What is your only comfort?

Urban God-talk for the church-o-phobic.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A death in the church family

One of the benefits of being a pastor in a small congregation is that you don't have too many congregants die in a short span of time. One of my friends had two people in his church die in the last three days. Our congregation has been incredibly fortunate to not have a death in our church family in a long time.

Until yesterday, when I found out that one of our faithful members had departed this life. He died peacefully at the age of 90. He had been in a nursing home for a long time, and had not been able to come to worship the entire time I have been at the church. Still, I know that he lived out a significant portion of his life within the life of our congregation. His death is a loss for me, even if the active part of his ministry had faded well before I came on the scene.

His sister informed us that there would be no funeral or visiting hours. To me, this felt like an additional blow - there would be no way to remember him publicly. A lot has changed within the life of our congregation so that most people did not know this saint of the church. Yet, there remains in me a desire to have us find a way to say goodbye and say the words of the funeral liturgy - even if we were unable to know him very well.

The consistory and I are working to figure out a way to remember him which would not go against his sister's wishes, but would allow the church to find a way to give witness to his life and ministry.

During his years in Queens, my father had the chance to say a liturgy at a burial service where he was the only person in attendance. The woman had requested in her will that she be buried with the liturgy of the Reformed Dutch Protestant Church. When he told me the story, I thought to myself that this is what church is about - showing up even when you're the only one. I'm glad there are more people in our congregation so that we can all show up, even if we didn't know this member personally.


Post a Comment

<< Home