Ministry

Songbird’s Funeral Tips for Ministers

* A family that cannot meet with you until the day of the funeral doesn’t get why you want to meet with them.

*If you have a hair appointment on the day of the funeral, and you
decide to ask the hairdresser to blow your hair nice and straight so
that you will look appropriately serious for the funeral instead of
having fun Friday date night ringlets, remember this will take at least
an extra 20 minutes, causing you to have to race to your meeting.

* But do take a minute to tame your bangs, because your hairdresser probably likes them bigger than you do.

* A call from the grandson of the deceased left on the voicemail two
hours before you are to meet with the family sometimes means they are
not going to meet with you at all.

* If you get dressed early in the day, because you think you’re meeting with the family, be careful not to spill on your outfit.

* If you get out of the car at the funeral home and notice to your
horror that there is a grease spot on your skirt, just put on your
vestments right there in the parking lot and breeze in as if nothing
unusual has happened.

* Do not stop to wonder why your denomination doesn’t go in for clericals or to wish you had a uniform of some kind to make life easier. Plenty of time to think about that tomorrow.

* If the late start time of 7 p.m. means you are worn out by your day
and forgot lipstick, just remember your hair looks fabulous. And lick
your lips.

* Do your utmost to remain neutral when you hear the guy leading the
Eastern Star ladies refer to them as a herd of cattle and the need for
dogs to round them up to rehearse. Determine to reflect later on their
need to have a man lead them in and out of the room.

* When you discover that the Eastern Star ceremony has several of the
scriptural elements you are likely to use in a funeral, don’t panic.
Even though they go first, it’s possible to stick with what you have
and forge ahead. You probably read the texts *much* better than they
do.

* When the Eastern Star ladies get to the part about the flowers
representing the beauty of God’s creation, or something like that, do
not get the giggles over the Carnations of Colors Nature Never Knew
being placed by the urn.

* And when you finally get to the lectern, even though someone else has
already spoken the words you use at the beginning of your service, take
a deep breath and smile and invite them in to celebrate a life with
you. "Hear the words of Jesus Christ…" Hear them yourself. Love the
friends of the 95-year-old you wish you had visited a few more times.
And love her family, too.

* After the service, show the family a clipping of Grandmother you found in the church’s history files. Hang around. They didn’t know it would help to talk to you ahead of time, but they need you now.

* Marvel at the emotion of teenaged great-grandsons.

* Smile when a granddaughter-in-law says the service was filled with hope.

* Drive home thinking this went better than you expected. Thanks, God!

12 thoughts on “Songbird’s Funeral Tips for Ministers”

  1. Beautiful.
    I do NOT like those Eastern Star funeral rites. To me, anyhow, they seem incredibly corny and shallow.
    But I am sure there are people to whom this ritual brings comfort. I suppose.
    At my aunt’s funeral, the Eastern Star bit was last. And when it was finished, we all stood around feeling …spiritually hungry. Like we’d just had a fluffy meal of air.
    My cousin stepped up to his mother’s grave and choked out a benediction: “May the Lord bless and keep us. May the good Lord make his face to shine upon us…”
    He couldn’t finish. So we all finished it together.
    Even if we did mess up the Eastern Star ritual.

  2. I, too, will be saving your tips. Haven’t had any Easter Star rituals yet….
    BTW, wearing clericals doesn’t save you from spills,etc. And do you know how lint-y you get when you wear all black?

  3. Well said.
    I don’t get those secret societies at all but I know even other pastors who are diligently protective of all that they are.
    Back to the point though, I appreciated your funeral pointers and that you are the kind of pastor that is willing to be there even when people don’t realize they need you.
    Well done.

  4. Please keep in mind the Eastern Star Service is performed at the request of the deceased in prior funeral arrangements, or by a family member who knew the deceased was a member and knew the deceased would probably appreciate it. The service is generally performed by members of the Chapter to whom the deceased belonged, and may have known him/her very well.

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