Last week, with many others I attended the funeral service of Fr John Lamani. It always comes as a shock when someone you know dies.
John was only six months older than I am. I do not expect to die in the next six months, and I am equally sure that John did not expect to die at the age of 66.
It is yet another timely reminder of our mortality. Unless Jesus returns first, we will all die. We may not know of the day of our death, but we can be certain of it coming. It is a sobering thought, isn’t it? The question is; will you be ready?
I was not especially close to John Lamani, though we knew each other well enough. I suppose in some sense we had somewhat of a mutual indebtedness.
As the owner of the Solomon Star, John was indebted to me for providing this weekly column – something I have done since 2005.
I on the other hand, was indebted to him, for allowing me to offer my weekly thoughts on the many and various topics that I have written about over the years.
However, rather than a mutual indebtedness, I would rather want to think about it as a mutual support. John had a love for getting the news out.
I have a love for getting ‘the good news’ out. As a fellow Christian, and even a fellow minister of the gospel, we could support each other in this way, and I am grateful for the many years that we have been able to work together.
With many others, I too offer my sincere condolences to Catherine and the rest of the immediate and extended family.
I have prayed, and do pray, that God would graciously grant them comfort, grace and strength in this time of sorrow and trial.
Mind you, even though Christians mourn like all other people, we do not mourn in the same way. We mourn, but we retain our hope. We mourn because of the immediate sorrow and loss, but we know that we shall meet each other again in the resurrection. For Christians, it is never ‘goodbye,’ but instead it is; ‘see you later.’
I have been to many funeral services, and have conducted many too, but I do not think that I have been to a funeral service where there were so many eulogies.
As well as the eulogy by his fellow priest, Fr. Fred Seda, there were many from the media fraternity throughout the Pacific that were read out by Walter Nalangu.
Just in case you do now know what a ‘eulogy’ is, let me define it. The word comes from the Greek language, and literally means “a good word.”
It is a high recommendation, or when you say something really good about someone or something.
Technically, it is not restricted to funerals. I suppose we have gotten into some traditions to say some good things about the person who has just died.
I imagine that we do that because it would be very rude to say bad things about a person who has just died, even if those things were very true.
Even for the worst of people, something good will be said about them at their funeral service. But this was certainly not true for John Lamani.
The many good things that were said about him were genuine and true. He had a passion for things true and godly. Any Christian does.
As I listened to all the eulogies, I thought to myself that it was a pity John was no longer here to listen to what is being said about him.
When my grandfather died, he requested that no flowers be brought. I looked at the many flowers and wreaths, and they looked beautiful, but John could not enjoy them.
Flowers are for the living to enjoy. I think eulogies should be the same. Maybe it is time to start saying a few eulogies to the people around you: your family; the people you work with; the people you play with or go to school with.
How long since you have said a good word to your husband or wife, your son or mother? How long since you have commended someone not only for something positive they have done, but just for who they are? Let’s start a new trend.
Let’s start saying good things about people to their own faces, so that they will hear it and rejoice. I did it the other day, and it really brought a deep smile of joy to a young 20 year old.
Actually, we would not be starting a new trend at all. God has been doing it since time began. He created us in his image, and he keeps on telling us that he loves us.
He reminds us we are special and unique, and precious to him. He holds his arms open so that we might run into them and be embraced in his love.
By Rev. Kevin Rietveld