One of the things that frequently comes my way as a pastor is the performing of funerals. It’s kinda amazing what the Lord has done; when I was a young man I’d avoid going to them at all because of the feeling that it left me with. But soon after I was in the ministry I got my first request to do one. I immediately thought, “There’s no way!” Even though I said yes, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I found that the Lord had given me grace to do it and I made it through the first one. Since that time I’ve done right at 350 more funerals. It’s always an honor to be asked to do a service but it carries with it a good size load of stress. But I figure, compared to the grieving family….I’ve got the easy part.
I recently got a call from the funeral home to do a service. I didn’t recognize the name of the woman but I said yes, anyway. I was sure that I’d know someone in the family but after reading the obituary I, again, didn’t recognize anyone. I met with the family the next day to plan the service and I was sure I’d know at least one of them. Nope, didn’t know any of them, either. It was apparent that the family didn’t have many resources; the cardboard casket was just more evidence of that. On the day of the funeral, I asked the funeral director if he knew this family, to which he said, “No”. I told him that I didn’t know them either, to which he replied, “Well, they know you!” and “They specifically asked for you!”
I can’t explain in words how that made me feel. It’s one thing to be ‘known’ in the company of the ‘elite’, and I guess I have a few acquaintances in that small crowd. But it’s a totally different thing to be ‘known’ in the community of the downtrodden! I can’t remember when anything left me feeling more honored than that!