For all the snarky comments and prurient probing into the circumstances of her death, the celebration of Whitney Houston's life on Saturday was a tribute to her spiritual roots.
This was a church service, pure and simple.
It wasn't about the diva, but about the daughter, the cousin, the friend. We heard stories about Whitney, but we felt closer to Nippy, the girl who got her start in the choir stand and never really left gospel behind.
This was a home-going, not a funeral.
The phrase sounded awkward when TV commentators said it -- as if it were some exotic ritual or a way to blur the harsh lines of her death.
But it's more than a euphemistic distinction. It reflects a fundamental belief among black American Christians: Death is not an end, but a new beginning. A return home to a forgiving Father in heaven, where the weary are comforted and the troubled move beyond sin.
Get breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone. Text BREAKING to 52669. You will receive up to 30 msgs/mo. Msg&data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.
In my church, in my community, we season our mourning with celebration. We don't "die," we "pass" -- from this life to the next. From struggle to rest.
Whitney's service was a fitting tribute -- a reminder of both the power of faith and the pull of human weakness.
I cheered with the crowd in the sanctuary as the pallbearers hoisted her casket to their shoulders.
Then I turned the television off, as the commentary suddenly turned to the latest scandalous "revelations."
It doesn't matter now. Whitney's gone home.