I had the privilege of leading a funeral today. Not an unusual thing for a Baptist minister to do. It certainly doesn't get any easier with the passing of time. Maybe it's something to with not wanting to get things wrong, maybe it's to do with a sense of one's own inadequacies, I don't know.
Today was an interesting mix of many things. We had Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and another piece of music drawn from the 50's. We sang There is a Green Hill, and Make me a channel of your peace. We read and prayed and as usual I looked out across the faces and wondered just how much sense we were actually making of death and grief and loss. not a lot I suspect.
Everyone is always so appreciative of what you do at a funeral, at least to your face! But do they ever get what you're trying to say. I wonder. I don't blame them. If I blame anyone, I blame myself for failing to make it clear.
But it must be hard when you've lost a friend or a family member and you have no faith context in which to try to make sense of it all. The words that are so familiar to churched people must sound very strange to the unchurched ear.
I guess in the end, doing funerals reminds me of the significance and importance of the mission into which we have been commissioned. For if we don't help, someone else will, and they might hear a different story. A story that doesn't carry the hope that our story carries.
It reminds me too that sometimes we get so caught up in the petty things of church life that we forget what's really important.