July 18, 2012

Death and a Funeral

A couple of days ago the mother of our Indonesian friend died, so Luke & I attended the funeral (Charlotte was sick so Amy stayed home along with Simon & Helena).

The death was around 12 midnight, and by 10:30am the road outside the family's home had a tent covering over top, chairs were in place, and the funeral service was already beginning. Friends, family, & it seemed like the entire surrounding neighbourhood dropped what they had going on that day and showed up. It is just expected that you show up on short notice in such a situation, that is just the way things are done here. Work can wait, it is the culture.

It was the first Muslim funeral and burial I have attended. The ceremony is filled with prayers & chants as members of the family hold the body on their shoulders with something similar to a large stretcher. Muslims do not use caskets, but they wrap the body in a white sheet, and it is (in this case) subsequently covered by a half circle of cloth material that keeps its shape from a wire frame underneath.

After the ceremony, those carrying the body walked about 3/4 km to the graveyard with everyone in procession behind. The family then lowered the body into the grave by hand, covered it with some wood framing and matting, and buried it. This is followed by more Muslim prayers and chants, which I think are all meant to intercede for the dead person's soul. From what I do know, in Islam it is believed the destination of a person's soul is not secure even after death. For days afterwards the family will pray for the "jiwa" or the "soul" of this lady.

An interesting and educational experience. But far more than that, my heart was heavy for the loss in this family, and also for the heaviness and burden that was still upon them for the soul of their mother, grandmother, friend, etc. It made my spirit tired to even imagine being a part of it. How to put into words how thankful I am for the solid, unmoving, unfailing, unending hope I have in Jesus Christ.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (esv)

Our fellow MAF friends did an awesome post on their experience at the funeral, if you'd like you can read it here.

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