Thursday, April 7, 2011

Webcam Funeral

Yesterday morning I shared in a first - an online funeral service from Cambridge UK for a dear friend of mine, John Whitmore. John was slightly younger than me, and had suffered (uncomplainingly) for five years with prostrate cancer. He and his wife Sally have been part of our circle of friends for over a quarter of a century.

At 8:15 Carol and I were sitting in front of the computer monitor, looking over the shoulders of the first five rows of family and friends in the crematorium chapel. As we heard the pastor welcome us, read Scripture and pray it was as though we were present. Really! It was extraordinary. We joined in the hymns (John loved to sing!) Carol and I had sent a testimony of thanks for John’s life, hard work, friendship and (what made everything else sense about him) his faith in Jesus Christ. Five friends (most of whom we knew) went to the front to make their own tributes and the pastor read out our words. In his concluding comments and the prayers that followed we were there, one with them.

At the end of the service, the camera allowed us to see the congregation streaming out and as we recognized other friends we exclaimed excitedly “Oh look, there’s Rachael, etc!” Later, Carol talked with Sally about the service and the impact it had made on us.

In all our concerns about how the internet can complicate life and have negative influence, occasions like this show its positive gift. If I had been in England, I would have been present in person. But this was the next best thing and we shall always be grateful.


dss said...

I had no idea that this is done and it would have made a great difference to me when my Uncle died some years ago and I could not be there. As it was, I missed being there tremendously. I'm glad you were able to participate in this way. It helps each of us to find God's peace about the death more easily to be able to participate in the memorial service and funeral service, even if it is at a distance.

Anonymous said...

So might this mean that there is a place for video-casting sermons? Might it mean that technology is to our day what the printing press was to former era? I'm grateful that you had the chance to share in this experience, if even from a distance. Might it mean that video-casting worship and sermons should be used in some situations? After all if Paul became all things that some might be saved, might we not use all things that preaching may be heard?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this model doesn't suggest something in regards to the future of preaching and Senior Pastor influence. Might it not be that a trend in the future is that the preacher will have less geographical influence and more digital influence?