Saturday, March 15, 2008

The highlight of a funeral

Yesterday I had the privilege to co-officiate a funeral for a much beloved member of our community. I must admit I still get quite nervous before I get up to speak at a funeral. Part of that has to do with infrequency with which I am asked to participate in funeral services. Although there have been several funeral since I came to my current church, our community also has the good fortune of having had several of the former ministers of our church retire in the area. So often, it happens that while I might be involved in giving pastoral care to the family- I am not always a part of the funeral service. Although, there have been exceptions of course, and this funeral was probably the sixth one of participated in.

Well, I was a bit nervous before the ceremony and I think this stems from the fact that funerals are so significant for those loved ones and friends that come to celebrate a life. It is very humbling to get to be a part of a family's journey in this way. Yesterday it was my task to give some opening words, read some scripture, talk about the purpose of why we gather, and then to read the woman's obituary. I had taken time to weave the details of her life together- going from the list of names that was provided to me on the "Clergymen's Record" that the funeral home gave me. The woman we honored yesterday had five grandson's, the smallest of which was probably about seven years old. As I read his name as one of the beloved grandchildren- he did a full on fist-pump and mouthed "yes!". I had to really keep it under control not to laugh out loud for joy. Probably me and the one or two others around the boy were the only ones who saw this- but it was delightful. Even in the midst of this "too hard to understand" event- there was joy in hearing his name called. There was joy in the fact that he had been significant in the life of his beloved grandmother. And isn't that what life is all about- taking joy in the fact that we are significant in someone else's life.

Well, as you can see, that enthusiastic seven year old fist pump was the highlight of the funeral for me.

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