AN AMAZING FACT: After his sister died in 1951, James Nelson Gernhart was outraged because relatives wanted to bury her with a low-budget funeral. At 75 and alone, “Old Jim,” as he was known, wanted to make sure this didn’t happen to him. He resolved that everybody in tiny Burlington, Colorado (population 2,200), would know that he was going out with more dignity. He would have his funeral before he died!
Some townsfolk didn’t think Old Jim should have his funeral when he wasn’t even dead. They refused to let him use the community center. Then the singers Jim had scheduled backed out. Undaunted, Old Jim rented the town armory and substituted records of his favorite hymns. In the next town he hired a pastor to officiate. Then he plunked down $3,600 of his savings for a solid copper casket—a lot of money back then. Using newspaper ads, Old Jim invited everyone in town to his funeral.
In spite of the objections, nearly half the town filed into the dimly lit room, sat solemnly down on folding chairs, and watched as a hearse rolled up to the door. Eighteen honorary pallbearers formed a double line while eight old friends carried in the casket. With a sad expression on his weather-beaten face, Old Jim walked behind the casket, hat in hand. The preacher began his text: “He that believeth in me though he be dead yet shall he live.” Old Jim beamed, and tears gathered in his eyes when the recorded strains of “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere” floated out over the armory. The service continued for the next 55 minutes. Finally, the piano played “Rock of Ages.” Old Jim wrote out a $100 check for the minister and marched cheerfully out. “Now I don’t care what they do with me when I die,” he said. “I’ve got myself fixed up real good.”
I know this may sound odd, but did you know the Bible recommends you conduct your own funeral? To break free of the slavery to sin, our old self must be crucified, and the “body of sin” must be “done away with.” In this way, the Bible says, “ … reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11).
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:6For he that is dead is freed from sin.Romans 6:7