Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Such are the words of Paul in his letter to the Romans, as he describes ways we are to be loving of all of those around us, who walk with us in this life. In my days of working in Leadership Development, I became acquainted with all sorts of quotes, but one that stuck with me was one by Rudolph Guiliani in his book on leadership:

Weddings Optional, Funerals Mandatory

Basically, his advice was that when people are celebrating that it is important to let them know that you are happy for their good fortune, even if there are conflicts which prevent your physical presence. In the case of someone in mourning, though, not only is your empathy/sympathy important, but your physical presence is, as well. In Guiliani’s advice, your time and presence demonstrates to a mourner, far and above anything else, your love for them.

In the first century, when a loved one died, it was customary for them to be placed in a 2-chambered tomb. One chamber held the body of the deceased, and the other was for the close friends and family of the deceased to sit in mourning for a week after the death. In many cases, the burial chamber was sealed after three days (as was the case with Lazarus), due to the smell, but the mourner would still remain. This allowed time for news of the death to spread to the outlying communities, and for well-wishers to comfort those who were mourning.

Upon reaching the tomb, the comforters would weep with the grieved, and tear their clothes.

This is part of the image I believe Paul is painting in his advice for Christians.

Sadly, there are those who claim the Christian faith who have turned Paul’s advice on its head, out of a sense of Schadenfreude (taking pleasure in the misfortune of others), who mourn for those who rejoice and rejoice for those who mourn. If you want an example of an anti-Christ spirit of today, you need look no further when something like this happens.

What has become incredibly odious is the practice of using someone’s death as a political or religious platform – whether the death of soldiers overseas, a political figure, a religious leader (or the wife of a disgraced religious leader), or a famous actor. Such an occasion is NOT the time to score political points. Such an occasion is a time to demonstrate love.

Heath Ledger

Last night, I was heartened to find out that Chris Rosebrough was choosing to speak out againt the actions of some falsely acting in the name of Christ, specifically Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, in their plans to picket the funeral of actor Heath Ledger.  Why Ledger?  Because of a gay character he played in Brokeback Mountain (which I’ve not seen), and – most importantly – because his funeral will get lots of press coverage.

Here’s a video (HT: Chris R.) with Phelps’ own words:

YouTube Preview Image

Rosebrough writes:

Therefore, We’d like to ask you to pray AND find a way to combat this hate by sending messages that share Christ’s love with Heath Ledger’s family and loved ones. If we don’t take a stand against this type of hate done in the name of Christ then we will become silent accomplices to Westboro’s gross and inhuman sin.

I could not agree more, and I am doubly blessed that this was written by Chris R and that we agree on this matter.  I would hope that the message received by Ledger’s family about the love of Christ is not the one preached by Phelps and the WBC, but the one preached by Paul and affirmed by those truly demonstrating Jesus’ love…
If anyone has contact information of where to send condolences to Ledger’s family, please post it in the comments, as I couldn’t find any online.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 10:16 am and is filed under Church and Society, Commentary, Music and Art, Original Articles, Schadenfreude. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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8 Comments(+Add)

1   pastorboy
January 30th, 2008 at 10:39 am

Kudos to Chris L and Chris R for posting this. See, Christians CAN work together!

2   Chris Rosebrough
January 30th, 2008 at 11:44 am

Chris L,

You said it better than I.

3   merry    
January 30th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I’m not sure you’ll be able to send anything to Heath’s family directly, but you never know. I would suggest trying to find out who Heath’s managment was and try asking them to forward it to the Ledger family.

4   merry    
January 30th, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Here some contact information you can try. These are or at least once were Heath’s management companies.

Shanahan Management
PO Box 478
Kings Cross NSW 1340

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) Phone #: 424-288-2000
9830 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

I don’t really trust the internet for information, so I’m not sure if these adresses are up to date. You can try the phone number first if you want, but it’s a huge talent agency, so I’m not sure you’ll get anywhere!

Anyway, hope that helps. I’ll keep searching if I have time. :)

5   Chris Rosebrough
January 30th, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I had a very nice conversation with Heath Ledger’s publicist this morning and they’ve given us two ways to send our messages of condolences and love to Ledger’s family.

You can send mail to

Heath Ledger’s Family
C/O ID Public Relations
8409 Santa Monica Blvd.,
West Hollywood, CA 90069

or send emails to

Rachel Karten at

6   merry    
January 30th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Yay! Thank you, Chris R.

7   Joe C
January 30th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Wow Thanks Chris R

Think of the amazing witness God could use here if we all sent in mail offering our condolences and love from our God Jesus Christ!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Great stuff.


8   Chris L
January 30th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Thank you very much, Chris, and for your kind words, as well…

Grace and peace,