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Long, a homiletics professor and well-regarded preacher, argues that funerals have become spiritually impoverished and need revitalization. Providing a comprehensive review of the history, traditions and theology of Christian funerals, Long notes that recent decades have seen both growing comfort with cremation and an increased preference for disembodied memorial services offering closure. In defiance of this trend, Long argues that just as bodies are present for baptism and weddings, they should be present for funerals.
Long laments that eulogies celebrating individual lives often replace gospel preaching and advocates instead that liturgies emphasize a community's conveyance of a beloved's body to its final resting place, worshipping as they go. Delineating the purposes of a good funeral, Long urges clergy and congregations to embrace funerals as opportunities to act out one more time the great and hopeful drama of how the Christian life moves from death to life and from baptism to resurrection. This book promises to be a welcome theological resource and practical guide for pastors and others who care for the dying and officiate at Christian funerals.