No Laughing Matter

No Laughing Matter

It was Benjamin Franklin, I believe, who wrote in a 1789 letter that “Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”


It’s curious how people can joke about death. Being a pastor, I have done hundreds of funerals and I find that most people’s attitude towards death is based on their personal belief or lack of belief, in the hereafter.


Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a Doctor, Missionary, Philosopher and Musician. The expression “reverence for life” is the key to his personal philosophy. He studied theology but that wasn’t enough. He wanted to alleviate suffering, and accordingly studied medicine. Together with his wife, who was a nurse, he built and ran a hospital at the mission station in Gabon, a French colony at the time. This effort became an example to others. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. He said this about his life. “In case my life should end with cannibals, I hope they will write on my tombstone: ‘We have eaten Dr Schweitzer. He was good to the end.’


P.G. Wodehouse said this of his good friend A.B. Spottsworth. “It was confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that caused him to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn’t.” And comedians have had a field day with the subject. Steven Wright commented, “My uncle was a circus clown, and when he died, all his friends went to the funeral in one car.” Jay Leno noted that the inventor of Crest toothpaste passed away and four out of five dentists came to the funeral. And one comedian said that he wanted to die peacefully in his sleep like his grandfather, not like the passengers screaming in his car, as he drove over the cliff.


The bible has been my source of comfort since 1961, when at the age of 22, I stepped out of gang life and Jesus Christ changed my whole reason for living. But not everyone has the hope I’ve been blessed with.


It hurts when we hear that one of our winter shelter guests has died because they had to return to the streets after the five month shelter program has ended. All of us at Bread of Life long for the day when we can shelter our guests for a full year and get them off the street, with a job and a permanent roof over their head.



Pastor Alan