Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Joyful Celebration

Some might call it a funeral, but the family and friends of Daniel Parker are choosing to call today a joyful celebration of his life! Yesterday over 1,000 people descended on our home church for the visitation. Most had to wait in line well over an hour. Many came devastated by the loss of this vibrant young man, but left encouraged by the sheer joy and peace radiating from his family. His blood family and his church family. They are following the biblical mandate in I Peter 3:
In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
What a testimony for Christ! 

A few months ago Daniel's younger brother wrote a song. Nothing unusual about that because Matthew is always writing songs. But this song was different. This song is about heaven. And this song will be played at the funeral today. It's a beautiful song and I hope you'll take time to listen to it. (Since I just linked it three times, there's no excuse not to!)

I wonder if Daniel had listened to Matthew's song when he wrote: "My goal for the next week, or two, or maybe lifetime, or even forever, is to uncover and realize more and more how much He loves me." (italics mine)

The sanctuary in our home church holds about 300. I'm pretty sure they'll be setting up overflow chairs throughout the rest of the building. The family has asked people to pray especially that those who do not know God would listen carefully to His saving message of grace today. Do I hear an amen?!

We've been able to keep up with what has happened via facebook, e-mails, and phone calls over the internet. The Daysman writes that the new social media has changed the way we grieve with its influence on the younger generation. He referenced an article in the New York Times about how "Facebook already hosts thousands of memorialized accounts of deceased users so their friends and family can continue to post photos and comments."  

We've read a number of comments and tributes to Daniel on facebook this week, including a beautiful post by his dad. We've enjoyed looking through the photo album his friends spontaneously put together, sending any photos they had to Michael who put them all together. My little corner of the blogosphere usually generates a fraction of the hits it received over the past few days after I linked to facebook and scores of other people re-posted the link. I had more visitors stop by to read the post about Daniel than I had the whole previous month. 

It makes me wonder: Have you been affected differently by the loss of a loved one since the onset of online social media?


rita said...

Once again, you made me cry, but that's good.
The song is beautiful and so meaningful, like he knew. The Spirit of God knew.
His Dad's post, the family's response, is powerful.
And to think that the celebration going on today is NOTHING compared to that of Heaven!
I rejoice to see how Facebook, a tool, is being used for GOOD and GOD'S GLORY. Sometimes we make too much of the evil uses of modern technology.
In my recent experience, I followed the Caring Bridge blog of a grieving husband as he walked through the valley of death with his wife (my former department's administrative assistant at IWU), waiting to go to her 'final home'. It was so glorifying to God and taught us all how to go through illness and death.
Another blog I follow is that of a grieving father (OM Ships' acquaintance) as he shares the ups and downs of life after the loss of his only son, a 19 yr. old about to go off to college to major in worship music who died in his sleep one night. No known cause has been determined. God took him.

sara said...

the song is so beautiful!!! And his dad's words just so special. praying for this family today...and you.

Betty said...

The song is very beautiful! I´m glad you linked to it and I took the time to listen. It blessed me.
We have some friends in Canada who´s son died last year. There were similar posts on his facebook profile and it is still open to share any memories. I think it´s a great way to communicate with each other. It sure does speak to young people.

Mari said...

Praying for the family and friends today. Now I'm off to listen to the song.

Mari said...

I'm back - that song is awesome. It made me cry.

skoots1mom said...

you are soooo right...
multiple blessings...
BS&K and I got our 'feetsies' done today along with sitting in the massaging was WONDERFUL!
I believe it may take me a month to recover from all of this.
Having to stay in my prayers to keep away the anxieties of dd leaving in August...just doesn't seem possible. I'll be grieving for a while then, I'm sure.

Hope this finds you snuggling in to your cooler weather...we've been in the 80's this week and expecting thunderstorms tomorrow with highs in the 90's.