I have a funeral tomorrow. That isn’t all that unusual. I’ve conducted 23 funerals in the last 9 months. What is unusual is that someone finally told me the truth.

I met with the widower and the children earlier this week. We had a nice conversation while they got to know me, and I got to know them and the deceased. I have not really met them yet. This is no complaint, just an observation. The deceased was sick. That made the 2 of them be pretty stuck there in the house. And, I didn’t know she was sick. My Ouija Board is broken, and my Crystal Ball has had bad reception since they went to H.D.   So, like other folk in similar situations in this large congregation, they haven’t gotten a visit by me.

At one point the widower said, “nothing against you, because we didn’t know you then, but we asked Reverend so and so to do ‘mom’s’ funeral, but he said no.’   I said I understood.  They said they were glad I was there and would be doing the funeral.

My reaction was a bit of a flinch.  I didn’t flinch because of their request to my predecessor.  I flinched because I’ve been put in that situation where I  was asked to do a funeral, or a wedding, or some such pastoral act and I had to say no.  My heart ached for my colleague who served here for more than 20 years and had to say no to one of these folks.

Once, when I said no to a prior church member, they got quite angry.  I did not react to their anger, just sort of absorbed it I think.  Later I thought, I bet they have no idea how hard it was for me to say no, or how hard it was for me to step aside and let someone else take care of ‘my people.’

This is not an essay on mortality.  But it is a reflection on the fact that I believe the church will continue to exist long after I am gone.  One wise older lady once told me, ‘no matter how long you are here, Son, you’re a short-timer.’  I am thankful for members and colleagues that remind me that no  matter how long my tenure is, we are all ‘interims.’