In Ecclesiastes 7, Solomon offers us a really weird bit of wisdom. He lets his readers know that going to a funeral is more helpful to a person than attending a great celebration. Why?
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
Why is a funeral better than a party? At a funeral, those who attend are forced to consider the truth of our own mortality. Every person in the room at a funeral faces the fact that he or she will also someday pass from this life. Every person at a funeral is forced to take stock of things that they may or may not want to pay attention to in their normal lives.
On the contrary, a party is often a place where we ignore reality. Even the poorest of us pretend we have much at a party. We will whip up the best food. We will take time away from chores. We will forget about health issues and struggles for just a bit. At a party we relax and live in that moment alone.
There is nothing wrong with a party. We love a good celebration. But it is better for our souls to make sure that we do not forget to consider reality. It is better for our souls to remember that death stands before us all. It is better for our souls to consider how we can know for sure that there is something good awaiting us at the end of our 80 years or so.
The point is that a funeral makes us think about God. If it is done right, a funeral helps everybody in the room pay attention to what matters. A good funeral will offer comfort to a grieving family as it points people to the hope we have in Christ to live beyond our few years on this earth.