When I was in seminary preparing for ordained life, one thing that filled my fellow students and myself with fear when we considered our future ministries was the thought of leading memorial services. We were all worried that we would get something wrong and let a family down, or that our own emotions would get in the way and create a problem.
As it turned out, I had to face that fear rather quickly after I was commissioned as a Pastor in summer 2010. On my second day in the parsonage I received a phone call from the local Funeral Director, inviting me to lead a service for a family in the community. With some help from my friend and fellow Methodist minister in the community I wrote a service, the skeleton of which I have been using in similar situations since.
At each service, the very first words I speak are always words of Scripture – a reminder of the God’s unconditional grace and mercy. One of the passages I always read is this one:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
What a wonderful, comforting, hope-filled word, right? And it is not only for those who are grieving a loss. It is a word for all people; it’s a word for you!
Whatever is happening in your life right now – whether all is well, or you find yourself in distracting struggle – the foundational reality of our faith is this: God’s love and mercy are never ending, and God’s faithfulness is great. Always.
I’m looking forward to celebrating that goodness of God in worship this Sunday, when we continue our Lenten journey with The Lord’s Prayer. Make sure you join us for that. See you there!