December 23, 2010

The House of Mourning

"It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,"
 (Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV)

In the last two weeks I have come across this passage of scripture without intending to.  The first time was during a movie called, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.  It is a Christian movie that my wife found on Netflix.  Here is a bit about it from the movie's website:

Best buddies Dustin (Jansen Panettiere), Albert (Frankie Ryan Manriquez), and Mark (Allen Isaacson) are twelve year old boys looking forward to a summer of fun in 1970.  When Dustin mows the lawn of seventy-five year old Jonathan Sperry (Gavin MacLeod), a man he has seen at church, a unique friendship develops.
What happens the rest of this summer is something Dustin and his friends will never forget!
The movie is not being released on DVD until May 4th.  It was a really good movie, but I am only mentioning it because one of the characters, Mr. Sperry, uses this passage in a teaching moment with the neighborhood boys.

The second time I encountered this verse was on Tuesday.  I had dedicated myself to trying to read some of Spurgeon's sermons over Christmas break.  The next sermon on the list was using this passage.  Spurgeon asks the question though, is it really possible to say that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting?  Sure, there are those sinful houses of feasting that leave a person empty and the house of mourning would be better than that.  But what about those good houses of feasting?  Those joy-filled family feasts that my mind rests so easily upon around this time of the year.  Or those times when my soul is feasting upon the joy that comes from the felt presence of the Lord.  Is the house of mourning really better than those?

The Preacher, referring to King Solomon, tells us why this house of mourning is better:

"...for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart."
 (Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV)
Do you see his reasons?  This is the end of all mankind, and if the living will really take it to heart, there will be a much greater benefit than you might find in even the best of the houses of feasting.

I am reminded of this again today as my brother-in-law and his family head out to the funeral services of his grandmother.  From all accounts she was a woman of great faith.  We are praying today that God will use this house of mourning in the lives of the family.  Maybe they will take it to heart.