Putting the “Fun” Back in Funeral

I’m just kidding about the “fun” in the title.

Or perhaps not.

How many funerals have I done? Were they fun? Not one.

But were they tenderhearted, memorable, and—if not a Hollywood happy ending—a way to provide some solace for the living who eventually retreated from the freshly turned earth?

I hope so.

Several years before wearing my official ministerial robe, before a Bishop laid his hand on my head to bestow ordination, a seminary professor assigned me to Presbyterian Church in Southern California. A student pastor, I shadowed church staff to witness their work. I probably had to write a paper about my experiences. Thankfully, any paper I wrote was lost. However, decades later, I have a note from that church’s associate pastor. Near the semester’s end, he told me to wait in his office while he scribbled on a blank 3×5 card.

“Here,” Bob said (and his name was Bob), “This is what you’ll need for the funerals of folks you won’t know.”

He handed me the card.

“Trust me, Larry,” Bob continued, “you’ll do lots of funerals for people you’ve never met. Just keep this card in your Bible, and you’ll be ready for any of ‘em.” Continue reading →