This morning I attended my first-ever Hutterite funeral. It moved me. But first things first:
- Hutterite describes a group of pacifistic, separatist, German-speaking, religious dissenters from 16th-century Moravia (of the same Anabaptist rootstock as the Amish and Mennonite) who fled persecution and now live communally in agriculturally based, one-hundred-soul colonies clustered mostly throughout the prairies of western Canada and northwestern U.S. I am proud to call the Hutterites my neighbours and friends. (Here’s a set of photos and more info for the curious.)
- Funereal is not a typo but the adjective describing the character “appropriate” to a funeral–generally thought synonymous with words like morose, doleful, or bleak. The service I attended, with an estimated thousand mourners in attendance, honoured the financial manager of our local colony, an influential Hutterite leader. The character of his funeral was not “appropriate” by this definition.
- Joy (not gloom) was the attitude pervading the very black-clad gathering of cousins, brothers, offspring, and all manner of extended family who attended from sister colonies as far away as Peace River (fourteen hours’ drive). Tears flowed but joy abounded.
So, with definitions out of the way, I have a simple observation: Death brings hope.
Of course, this is anti-intuitive and I’m not making light of the sorrow experienced by those who will miss the face and voice and wise counsel of their beloved. But what I saw in that huge crowd of interconnected family (though the words of sermon and song were almost all unintelligible to me) was a founded belief that Christians know where we are going when this life is over.
The preacher’s brief English homily applied Scripture so beautifully, reminding us that blessing follows those who die “in the Lord” (which assumes a life having been lived “in the Lord”).
My Christian friends, in this new year (which has already begun dying), be filled with hope that our future is sure!