Ancestor worship is a spiritual practice that attempts to keep the family together (in so many words). Many view the world of the afterlife as being connected to the world of life, so kinships remain intact. The key feature here is that death is birth into another life. Reincarnation can be included in this system as the family may consist of the unborn living, the living living and the living dead. Simply stated, life is not complete without the presence of those who have passed on. “Goodbye” at death is more of a “see-you-later.”
An observer described a funeral in Japan how, “family and friends remained with the corpse as they believe the spirit of the deceased is still nearby. Anyone is welcome to pay tribute and burn incense before the coffin. Buddhists believe that everyone who dies becomes a ‘hotoke’ (a god). All ancestors have become gods and have to be worshipped regularly.” (Wilma Visser, Newsletter, Japan Rural Mission, 8, No 1. Dec. 1986; p.4)
Ancestor worship is the concept of appeasing the gods as ancestors are viewed to maintain the welfare of the living, the idea that the dead play a significant role in the land of the living. This is why our society maintains a high interest (and reality TV) with ghosts.
The spiritual world is real and questions concerning the future life should be explored for the reason that mankind has a destiny to which every worldview responds. We are made with a sense of the eternal (like it or not) so we live with dissatisfaction, knowing there is more to come, most notable, a sense of justice.
Mankind likes to be in control of life and the idea of death shakes our resolve. Man wants to be his own god and our Creator God shows us this is impossible. Man wants power and fulfillment, not faith and trust in his Creator. Our Creator is directly involved in the affairs of mankind, and does not respond to manipulative bribes from the power of men. He is sovereign and responds to man out of His sovereignty, not out of coercion.
What other god shows love, integrity, grace and mercy out of his own holiness, righteousness and kindness? These are qualities not found in any other god. He is to be celebrated, not appeased; trusted, not manipulated; enjoyed, not feared.