On Sunday a man died.
He grew up in this church. The details of his being were shared yesterday during a meeting with his widow.
In an hour we will hold his life to the light of our attention through the worship we share at his funeral. We will unpack memories, gratitude, tinges of disappointments, angers and the sure sense that never will this man be fully known; not to himself and not to those who shared life with him. We will name the mundane facts of living and seek to name the mysteries and wonders of his being. There is so much we will never know about him.
And yet, we do believe that he is fully known by God; not only known, but known and fully loved.
Every funeral I facilitate brings me to the wondering about this art called living. How is it the telling of my life will go? What major plot lines will be teased out and shared and celebrated? What stumblings will those gathered need to name in order to practice honesty? What foibles will be fodder for good laughs (I have provided so MANY!) and what legacy will be named as being broadened because of my being?
What will the telling of my life mean?
For clergy the question comes around often. We are faced with the refining fire of mortality as a part of our vocational being. Dodging just isn’t possible when funerals are planned and unfolded on a regular basis.
Sitting for a time of story telling and sharing it in the context of worship is sacred gift and it is poignant and insistent reminder.
The day is coming when people will gather to hear a story with your name as lead.
What sort of telling will it be?