Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A life remembered

Yesterday was my first day in my new job as a pastoral intern at a medium-sized, mainline church here in Denver. Mostly, I went to lot of meetings -- necessary, but not always fun. However, one of these meetings was a funeral planning meeting -- my first one ever. It doesn't exactly sound like a good time: meeting with a family whose loved one has just passed away, trying to get them to share memories of the deceased so you'll have enough information to give a eulogy. (To be clear here, I was mostly observing my supervising pastor: I'm not planning on conducting a funeral by myself in my first week on the job, nor am I licensed to do so.)

Contrary to my expectations, It turned out to be a sacred moment. It was a time for the family to share deeply their memories of their mother, both good and bad. It was a time of tears and pain, but also of celebration, smiles, and laughter. It was a healing and bonding moment. I must admit, I feel very priviledged to have been invited into that sacred space. I feel honored to have shared in the naked honesty of those lives. And I learned a great deal in those few, holy minutes.

2 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

I think doing funerals is probably one of the harder parts of being a minister (particularly if you didn't know the deceased), but also one of the better opportunities to really help people experience grace.

When my great aunt died, the funeral service was organized by a pastor that had never met her. But like you said, he really helped to create a sacred space. He helped our family accept our grief.

Then there was the minister than did Sarah's grandfather's service. He didn't really know Ray and seemingly invested almost no effort in learning anything after he was gone. His message at the service practically had an alter call in it. The funeral was good for the family, in spite of the minister.

So it sounds like you're learning good stuff.

9:44 AM  
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