Funerals Can Sometimes Bring Out An Interesting Story
In the past 33 years I have done many funerals. Each of them have been heartbreaking but I have experienced some interesting events because of them. When someone loses a loved one this is a very difficult time and many times people don't understand all the Pastor goes through in the course of conducting a funeral. I want to share a couple of things that happened to me because it might help you in the future when you see a minister conducting a funeral.
Many times because funerals happen when we least expect it we don't understand what happens when a minister is asked to conduct a funeral. First off, we do our very best to accommodate the wishes of the immediate family. Don't think the minster made a mess just because everything doesn't go the way you think it should. Many times the family ask us to do things that many find offensive. Also sometimes the minister is called a few hours before the funeral and not given very much time to prepare.
I remember a funeral I had in my early ministry that I will not forget. The funeral home called me and they had a family from Texas that had a loved one who was in a nursing home that went home to be with the Lord. They didn't have a Pastor or minister in the area and so they directed them to me.
They came to my office and I talked with them at length. They told me that they wanted a short message that gave the clear gospel message. Following the message they ask me to extend an invitation to anyone who wanted to pray the sinners' prayer to raise their hand and I would pray with them. I was not in the habit of doing this at a funeral but it was their personal request. The other request they made was there was not to be any graveside service, so they ask me to read the 23rd Psalm before I closed in prayer at the end of the service.
Because there was not any graveside service the funeral director ask me to help him put the casket in the hearse. We were personal friends and so this didn't seem out of the ordinary to me. As we were pushing the casket into the hearse, it slid a little off the rollers so the funeral director ask me to open the side door and push it back. I did and everything was fine and I left.
Several days later I got a call from someone whom I did not know. They began to ramble on how that was the worse funeral they ever attended and that I would never do a funeral for one of their loved ones. They were upset that there was no graveside service, they were offended by the invitation, and they said that they saw me push the lid down on the casket. Before I could answer any of their questions they hung up. This experience was very hurtful to me.
About a month later I got a call from this lady again and her Pastor had resigned and she did not have a Pastor. Her mother was sick and only had a few months to live. She invited me to her house and asked me to bring my guitar. Her mother knew me and she wanted me to come over and play my guitar for her. I went over and played for her mother and before I left she wanted to talk to me. She allowed me to explain what happened at the funeral I had for the family from Texas. When I told her that I did just what the family requested she was embarrassed. Then she ask about me pushing the casket lid down when we were loading the casket. Because she didn't have a clear view she just assumed that was what happened. Again when I explained what happen she was embarrassed again. She ask me to do her mother's funeral and I did. Sometimes everything doesn't appear like we think. My suggestion is if you think you saw something that shouldn't have happened, go to the people who are involved and talk to them. It will save a great deal of embarrassment later on.