Often, Christians decide if they will attend a funeral or visitation based on the question: “Did I know the deceased?” This question gets answered in various ways: (1) I’m related to them somehow; (2) They were a friend of mine; (3) They are the near relative of a friend of mine.
I think a better question is: “Where they one of us?”
Have you noticed how law enforcement, fire fighters, and military show honor to their deceased? They come out in droves–especially if one of their own gave her life in the line of duty. These groups are far less interested in the question: “Do I know them?” than the question: “Where they one of us?”
So, if someone in your local church family dies, I suggest that you consider participating in their funeral rites. You’re doing far more than showing support for the immediate family of the deceased based on a personal relationship. You’re reinforcing corporate solidarity with your church family. You’re participating in an honor code that is tremendously dignifying–and a pathway to deep belonging. And you’re consoling yourself with the deeply comforting thought that your community will show up to honor you someday.