December 23, 2006


One of the tasks that falls to us pastors is officiating at funerals. I had two this week, so I've been thinking a lot about funerals, and my role in them. Whenever possible, I meet with the family before the service, even if the one who died is someone familiar to me.

I do this to listen to their stories. These are the stories that don't appear in the newspaper obituary. Some of the stories are surprising, even to the family members. Some are humorous. Some haven't been told in many years.

All of them are full of meaning.

I am often complimented for the way I officiate at funerals. Many think it must be the most difficult part of ministry. The truth is that, for me, it's one of the easiest. I simply listen to the stories that are told, and then retell some of them. When heard in the context of the funeral service, the family members recognize that there is meaning there, and this helps them grieve.

My Christian faith is grounded in the stories of the Bible. These stories, filled with metaphor and allegory, are full of truth and meaning. But so too are the stories of our lives. There are many parallels, and meaning is deepened when one can see the connections.

I believe in stories; their power to heal, transform, and give meaning to life.


Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Merry Christmas Danny!

I agree, funerals/memorial services in most cases are not difficult. Generally I have found that the families are open to guidance and trust your guidance. There is little debate. The time can be sad, but the opportunities to minister are tremendous. Like many pastors I've discovered that there is more joy in a memorial service than a wedding!

Ted Fuller said...

We discovered the truth of your views on the values of storytelling in a memoir-writing group that began five years ago. After my wife and I completed our books, we continue meeting once a week, enjoying the friendship and, yes, the stories.
I think it would be neat if pastors established groups like this for older members.