Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Reason #28: He's a Wonderful Funeral Officiant!

I know preachers are supposed to do weddings and funerals; that's all part of their job description. Like the old preacher's joke says, "I can hatch 'em, match 'em, and dispatch 'em!" But, my DH truly has a gift when it comes to funeral officiating.

We had a funeral on Saturday that included FIVE ministers, one Bible college student, and various family members participating in the program. It took a well-organized, diplomatic person to plan and direct that ceremony.

Even if each minister took only five minutes (that would be a miracle!) it would take twenty-five minutes to complete the ceremony. Add to that a poem, two video presentations, three hymns, and several comments from the congregation--it could take up to three hours!

The memorial service started out well, beginning (on time!) with a slide presentation. Each pastor spoke briefly, sharing a scripture or two, and eulogizing the beloved departed one. Interspersed with the speakers, a congregational hymn was sung, and a poem was read. The service was flowing smoothly along, until ... a dear elderly lady was invited to the microphone to share memories of her time as a Bible student under the discipleship of the memorialized professor. As she began to share her memories, more memories surfaced, and more stories were shared. Five minutes passed, then ten, then twenty. It became more about her own life story than about the history of the one who had passed away.

Surely you have been subjected to a similar discomfort as a tortured member of a captive audience, when the speaker went on endlessly, oblivious to the anguished body language of the "bored-to-tears" listeners. You could probably identify with those who suffered in silence, stifling yawns, and suppressing the urge to get up and leave. So, too, you would relate to the shock and relief that passed through the crowd, when my DH sprang into action!

DH had prepared for this very "snag" in the program, by coming down from the platform, and sitting on the front row, very near the place where the microphone stood. He offered the dear lady that microphone to speak from, rather than allowing her to "take the pulpit" and hoped that would assure brevity to her remarks. When it became apparent that nothing was going to work, he very tactfully and lovingly intervened. A cell phone rang in the audience, catching the speaker off guard, and taking advantage of the brief lull, my DH rose from the pew, grabbed the woman in a half-hug, and addressed the audience with the words: "Aren't you thankful for what God has done in this woman's life?" (He used her name, of course, but I shan't.) "Let's all give the Lord praise for what He has done." And the crowd clapped, a little too enthusiastically but nonetheless, with praise!

Escorting her to the front pew, he sat her down, and then took his place back up on the platform. Immediately, in unison, three of the other ministers whispered, "Good job!" as he sat down, and one of them said, "I could never have done that!" in tones of wonderment and awe.

A second slide presentation was shown, another minister spoke, and then DH offered some closing comments. Before he gave the benediction, he announced that a microphone would be set up in the fellowship hall for those who wished to add their comments, and a video recorder would permanently memorialize their tributes.

I think my DH met the expectations of the scripture verse: Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:40 KJV) I also think he exceeded the expectations of the family and friends, in paying tribute to their loved one, by honoring him with a truly wonderful memorial service.

--And that's just one of the many reasons why I love my husband!