Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Isaiah 26:19
Gathering in convention at London, Ontario, Canadian funeral directors have noticed times are changing.
For example, 50 years ago less than five percent of all Canadians were cremated. Today that figure is almost 60 percent. Apparently, there are a number of reasons for the change. The biggest of those reasons is price. Cremation is about one fourth the cost of a traditional burial. Other reasons cremation is happening with greater frequency are cultural beliefs and because it is supposed to do less damage to the environment.
And if a person doesn't like having a large urn filled with cremains, there are alternatives to that. For example, Remembrance Diamonds Corporation will take an individual's ashes, subject them to high heat and pressure, and make them into a diamond. Another company, DNA Memorial, can take an individual's DNA and place it into a pendant. Then there's Skytree Smith of Glen Williams Glass who can take some of a person's ashes and transform them into colorful jewelry, vases or paper weights. The alternatives for disposing of a body or its ashes are almost endless.
The ideas are endless, but not always acceptable. When I've shared these ideas with some of my friends, the reactions have been mixed. Some folks said, "Wow! That's really neat. What was the name of that company?" Others have said, "Yuck! That's sick." Quite possibly you would agree with them or have an opinion that fits somewhere in between.
But what does God think? What does God want?
It needs to be said that Christians have customarily and traditionally buried the bodies of loved ones. Even so, in Scripture God says nothing that prohibits cremation or turning them into diamonds, pendants or paperweights.
On the other hand, God does care about the condition of a person's soul before they die. So Judgment Day might be a blessed time -- rather than the beginning of eternal punishment -- is why He sent His Son into this world. Jesus fulfilled the Law, rejected temptation, and defeated death so, when our bodies and souls come together, we will go to heaven as forgiven children of faith.
And, if you will allow me to say so, knowing that I am going to see my Lord and my loved ones in heaven is a joy that transcends funerals, cremations, and is longer-lasting than a diamond.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that -- because of Jesus' death and third-day rising -- the day will come when our dead shall live. Their bodies shall rise, and those who dwell in the dust will awake and sing for joy. For that day and that joy I give thanks to Jesus, my Savior. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries