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Friday, June 3, 2011

MY FIRST FUNERAL



Photo courtesy of Photo Bucket

I remember the first funeral service I performed.  As it happened I was serving as the Christian Education Director of our church, and occasionally I would speak at a service. The pastor did all the marrying and burying but he and his family were off on vacation.

A member of the congregation died and I was called on to officiate at the service whereupon I called the pastor and informed him what had happened. I hated to interrupt his vacation but thought he would want to return and handle the service.

Much to my surprise he said for me to go ahead and handle it and to get another young man who was just starting out to preach to help me. After talking to this young minister I found he was less prepared than I was for he had never conducted a service either.

I decided that it was up to me to do most of the planning and visiting the family and the other things necessary for the service.

I had visited the man shortly before he died and found him to be gruff and coarse toward his wife but I thought it was because he wasn’t feeling well.

A few days later he was gone and I went over to try to give some comfort to the wife and family and found everyone was in high spirits and making plans for the future. Then some of the ladies began to tell me what a mean so and so he was and they were glad he was finally gone. Afterward I was told how he dominated his wife and demeaned her in every way. I found it hard to find anyone who had anything good to say about him.

Given that backdrop this other preacher and I prepared for the service. The time had came and I felt like here’s goes nothing.

The other minister started out with the particulars of where he was born, how old, and a few other pertinent things like songs and prayer. Then it came my time. There was tenseness in the air that you could feel. It was like get this thing over with as soon as possible.

I searched for some kind words for he wasn’t going to get any from anyone else.

The best I can say is that I did a respectable job within a reasonable length of time and then it was over. No grave side service, just over.

The ladies of the church prepared a nice meal for everyone and the wife and her friends were celebrating and making more plans.

As I watched the goings on, I thought of a song I heard as a kid, some of the words are;

“I'll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you!
I'll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you!
When you’re dead in your grave,
Maybe then you will behave.
I'll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you!”

I stood there with some strange emotions for the wife and her friends were really glad this man was gone.

It was as if the wife were shouting, “Free at last, free at last, thank GOD ALMIGHTY, I’m free at last.

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