The Funeral That Went Bad

February 11, 2010
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image The following article was emailed to me by one of our members. The article is by David Nichols, who is a mediodist minister, and writes his our blog titled “David’s Methodist Blog”.

David posted to following article to his blog following a funeral service he officiated. The funeral service sparked his memory of the first funeral service he officiated.

I would love to get your thoughts of this article and how David handled the situation. I am leaving my thoughts in the comment section below.

The Funeral That Went Bad

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We had a funeral at Bethel this week. One of our dear souls was laid to rest. All went well. A good crowd came to worship (nobody goes to funerals or weddings like they used to). And, at the last minute someone from the family came up to me to tell me: “Oh, by the way Steve will be reading something in the service.” I know I was short. I hate surprises, especially five minutes before the service. I had to run tell the orgainst and the funeral folks and the other pastors in the service. It’s not that I minded the reading; it turned out to be good. What I didn’t like was not being told about it much sooner.

Alright, I’ll admit it. I have just a little bit of a problem with control. It’s because I know that I’m responsible for everything that is said and done in worship in my church. I like to know ahead of time what is going to happen, who’s going to speak, etc. This always reminds me of the funeral that I had early in my ministry in my first appointment.

Another Methodist preacher and a Baptist preacher were also a part of the service for dear Mrs. Cherry, who by any standards was a tough ole gal. We marched in (the pastors) leading the family down the aisle. As I got closer to the altar I saw that the casket was open. I had a decision to make. Our Book of Worship has always forbidden worship with an open casket. We don’t worship the person or the body; we worship God. So, the casket has to be closed when the service begins.

I decided not to upset everybody at that moment and ignored it. So, we did the worship service and I started out to lead the procession to the graveside which was on church property. I got about halfway down the aisle and noticed that no one was following us.

I stopped and called the Funeral Director over to ask what was going on. He said the family was going to parade by the casket to say goodbye to Mamma. I said: “no they aren’t”. He said: “Yes, they are.” By this time the other preachers were saying: “sic him Dave.” The congregation was laughing as they watched me turn beet red. Finally the Director got the word and closed the casket and we started out.

On the way he told me that he was opening the casket when we got to the grave. I said: “No you aren’t. You’ll have to get passed me first.”

We did the service and I stood there to make sure she was buried without incident. Then I went over to the Funeral Director who was a Methodist. I said: “Don’t you know that the United Methodist church does not allow an open casket during worship.” He said that he didn’t know it. I told him that if he ever did anything like that to me, I would get him. (I don’t know what I meant here)

Turns out the family had shopped around until they found a Funeral Director who would promise them an open casket. Also, I wasn’t letting the family show off in church in front of the casket knowing that the children barely spoke to their mother.

Well, we got Mrs. Cherry buried, and the story of my funeral there lives until now. I told you I was into control. Well, I like to think of it as my way of trying to make sure that our worship is done with integrity and grace.

Source: David’s Methodist Blog

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