One of my relatives passed away a few months ago. A minister who was pastor to several family members was called to the hospital. He prayed and offered words of comfort to the family.
This pastor was also asked to eulogize the deceased. He agreed, but stated that he did not like to perform funerals for people he did not know.
During the service, there was a time alloted for friends and family to share memories of the dearly departed. After 4 people spoke the minister announced that it was time for the eulogy. We still today hear from individuals who regret not being able to share a memory.
In my opinion, it would have been more comforting to the family to hear how their loved one touched lives, instead of listening to a sermon from a preacher who did not know him. And did not even want to officiate at the service. Protocol however, dictated otherwise.
My husband and I recently attended a funeral for one of his childhood friends. The Wake was one hour prior to the actual service. When the time came to transition from Wake to Funeral service, 5 or 6 ministers marched from the back of the funeral home.
They proceeded down the aisle and onto the pulpit. I wondered why, as the family was already in the building these ministers were not also inside, comforting the family and greeting friends. Again the answer is protocol.
It is customary to call a preacher to the home or hospital after someone has died. Even in the wee hours of the morning. And during most funerals I have attended, the officiating minister will ask clergy in the audience to stand and or come sit on the pulpit.
I have also heard people express how they are comforted by seeing the pulpit filled with preachers during a funeral. Why I wonder does a minister’s presence carry more weight than other mourners?
My grandmother and others of her generation often expressed distress when someone died and did not have a church home or their own pastor to do final rites. Truthfully however, a funeral service can be conducted any way the family chooses. I have a cousin who is not a preacher. She eulogized a family friend few years ago.
Over the years I have encountered many people who were angry with a preacher who did not call, visit or attend the funeral of a loved one. How did we get to a place within the Christian body where the actions of a minister carry more weight than others during a time of sorrow?
In the last verses of Mark chapter 16, and Matthew chapter 28, Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel. My oldest son and I are licensed/ordained gospel ministers. We are at times asked to officiate or take part in a funeral service when asked. And we do follow protocol.
Still I can’t help but wonder; How did we get to this place in Christian society where those licensed to preach the gospel are expected to, and ostracized if they don’t call visit or comfort the grieving and eulogize the dead?
I don’t know how any of this began. I have not found this order of service for final rites in any of the Gospels. I am sure however it will continue, unless of course more people have the courage to break protocol.