I have attended more funerals in the last two years than I have in all the previous years of my life. (We have so many relatives and friends down here who are/were a bit older than us.)
And I have been fascinated with the content of the funeral services.
Although these funerals have been for a mix of believers and not-yet-believers, their themes have not been that much different.
In all cases, two points have come across quite strongly.
1. All those whose bodies we buried were expected to go to heaven and be re-united with their loved ones, who had likewise gone to heaven before them.
No mention of hell, or punishment, and certainly nothing about everlasting punishment.
It didn't matter who the deceased was, or who was conducting the service, no-one was even considered a possibility of missing out on heaven.
Universal salvation was the standard, unchallenged theme.
2. All were expected to have gone to heaven immediately. They were all "in a much better place now."
No mention of going to Hades, or to hell, or waiting for a resurrection, or any other delay or stopover on the way.
Immediate, conscious transition from here to heaven was a given.
When I questioned one Christian celebrant who had led the service for a not-yet-believer about these themes in his service, he said that he didn't care "which route anyone took to get to the post office."
I quietly marvelled at his inference that everyone was eventually getting to the post office, one way or the other.
And this from a man whose personal beliefs for such non-believers include everlasting punishment in hell after waiting somewhere for a damning appearance before a "just" God at the Great White Throne.
It seems that the standard church system message is taught and encouraged in church circles, but a more loving, gracious, comforting message is given to grieving relatives and friends at gravesides.
Which reminds me of the testimony I recently read of a Palliative Care Pastor in the United States. He said that the people who showed the most fear when approaching death were Christians, who feared they might not have done enough to avoid everlasting torment in hell.
( Wow, hasn't that statement a load of issues to deal with? )
So if you want to hear the best sermons preached, avoid church and attend funerals !!