As a pastor, it is a privilege to walk with people through every season of life, but recently – in the course of a single week – I found myself talking with three different families about three different funerals.
One of these families was the Wiggin family. As many of you know, our beloved Fran Wiggin – a saint of our church – died several weeks ago. Her sons and extended family are planning a memorial service (known in “churchy language” as a “Service of Witness to the Resurrection”) for Fran on Saturday, March 9, at 1 PM here at the church. Fran was so dear to so many of you. She was dear to me, too, having served on the Pastoral Nominating Committee that interviewed me and invited us to move to New Hampshire.
There are times when I am called upon to lead a funeral for someone who I knew well, like Fran. But there are also times when I just get called to do a service for someone I do not know at all. This past Friday, we held a Service of Witness to the Resurrection for a woman named Linda McCutcheon. I never met Linda, officially, but she was a longtime resident of Bedford and I’m sure there have been times over the past few years when Linda and I were in our Fellowship Hall at the same time, during a monthly meeting of the Bedford Women’s Club. By all accounts, Linda was a lovely woman who shared so much joy with others.
When I sit down to prepare a funeral service, I will always ask loved ones to share stories about the person who has died. These stories help to paint a picture of the person and help me to make the Service of Witness to the Resurrection more personal and less “fill-in-the-blank.” Thankfully, this method usually works pretty well.
I sometimes wonder about the stories that I get told about people who have died – whether these particular stories are the stories that the deceased person intended to be told about them. I’m sure that some of the stories – the ones that are told about them and the ones they had in mind for just such an occasion – will match up. But I’m also sure that there are parts of who each of us are that we don’t even think about but might stick out in someone else’s mind when they think of us. Hopefully, it’s just the good stuff that sticks out from our lives but there can also be great grace in the “warts-and-all” stories that are told about us.
What are the stories that you tell yourself about yourself? What are the stories you think people might tell about you when you are gone? I hope that a lot of these stories match up. But, you never know. . .
Whenever we hold a Service of Witness to the Resurrection, the most important thing for people to know is that we who are living and all who have died are part of God’s story – God’s eternal story. This is a story that begins and ends with God’s grace – a grace that runs through all of life. May we trust in the good news of this story that doesn’t end in death but goes on and on with a new beginning.
See you in church!
Grace and Peace,
Prepare for Worship
This Week: Permanent Perspective (Transfiguring Our Perceptions)
Read Mark 9:2-10
Read Psalm 27:1-4
Read or sing Hymn # 749 – “Come! Live in the Light!”