From Interim Pastor Michael Meranda

Recently, I was privileged to lead the funeral service for Marge Shoemaker at Living Lord.  Pastors are privileged to conduct funerals.  The person who has died is sacred in that they were created in the image of God.  Forgiven sinners, they (and we) blessed creation as they lived in the light of God’s calling.  The eternal God has taken them thru the gate of death to where they now see God face to face, accompanied by all the saints in light.

My first funeral would have been Fall of 1978.  I was a vicar at a multi-staff congregation in Salem, Oregon.  Edna H. was the parishioner who had died.  She had no family.  Her only acquaintances were the congregation members who remembered and visited her.  The funeral service was at a local funeral parlor.  For some reason, to this day I still recall preaching the text from John, “no one shall snatch them from my Father’s hand.”  Sometimes life is precarious and interrupted.  Yet we are still held here in God’s hands.  Our destiny is in God’s hands.

There have been several tragic funerals in my span as a pastor.  When a child is still born or dies in utero or dies shortly after birth, that death and funeral exact a HUGE emotional toll.  I’ve had to conduct funerals a few times for young people who have taken their own life.  The guilt and emotional burden family members bear is staggering.  The person who died did not experience the love and presence of God in life.  We trust, now face to face with God, the person understands how deeply loved and forgiven they are, have always been, and always will be.

Most funerals provide an amazing opportunity, an opportunity to share a life story.  Life stories are sacred.  They tell how God claims us, fashions us, forms us, and sends us to serve this good creation.  As well as proclaiming the Gospel, a funeral sermon also stewards the life story of the one who has died.  We see the story of their life in the context of this particular time in history among these particular people. When we learn and tell the good things they were given and did, we indirectly thank God who is the source of all that good.

I’m not sure what will happen at my funeral.  It will be in a liturgical, Lutheran setting, I am sure.  My body will have been donated to science.  My cremains will be present at the liturgy.  I know where I will be.  I will be in the presence of God– beholding God face to face.  That status will not be my accomplishment.  That status will be yet another gift of God poured out into what had been my life.

It did not take too long after ordination until I realized one of the best liturgies in the Lutheran hymnal (back then the old Green Book – LBW is the funeral liturgy).  The baptismal identity of the person is affirmed.  The assembly is invited in to worship the God who is the source of the person’s life.  Prayers commend us to lively living with God.  The liturgical “farewell” is spoken over the person in the words of commendation.  Since 1964, Living Lord Lutheran Church has been a beautiful place to celebrate good funeral liturgies.  I know you will continue in this faithful calling for years to come.  As I said, it truly is a privilege to have conducted a funeral liturgy among you – here in this space, here among these people.


Wednesday Bible Study…Beginning in September, Pastor Meranda will lead a Bible Study at 10:30 am in the Activity Room every Wednesday.  All are welcome!


Interim Pastor Meranda’s Office Hours…Interim Pastor Michael Meranda will be in the office on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.  If you need to reach him at times other than on Wednesdays, please call his home phone of 440-998-7321.