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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Maybe the Kiwannis Club?

Today it was my turn to be the fussy priest.

Just a bit ago I got one of those phone calls... the sort that takes an unexpected twist.

A parishioner (a leader in one of my churches, and a Dear Soul) has had a death in her family. Naturally, we talked for a bit about the details, and how she and the others were doing-- a normal, pastoral conversation. She is saddened, but not devastated, as she was not especially close to the deceased. As we talked, I fully expected that she was leading up to asking me to officiate at a memorial service at the church.

I was half right. Her family wants to have a memorial of sorts... but they do not want me.

No, it's nothing personal. And they don't have another clergy person in mind. The thing is, they don't want any sort of clergy at all. Seems the dearly departed was not a believer of any recognizable sort. As the DS put it, "He'd read the Old Testament sometimes, but not the New-- and he wasn't Jewish, either." So there would be no religious component of any sort to what they wanted to do. Can they use the church? Not the parish hall, the nave (this is a little building, and those are the only two rooms we have. Worship upstairs, meet and eat downstairs).

I gave it some thought. . . and figured out how to say what my gut response had been:

I'm sorry, but that won't be possible.

If it were a matter of their preferring to have another priest or minister officiate, that would be one thing-- I am not unwilling to share for such an occasion, certainly. But lending worship space to a group which is intentionally avoiding any religious component to their memorial (other than the room's appearance, of course). . . I am not comfortable with the use of sacred space in that manner.

I think I was able to explain this to DS in a way that she could accept. At least, she did not seem upset.

May the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Blogger Dawgdays said...

You're not being fussy. You're being faithful to the church.

This reminds me of a story about a hollow church.

BTW, what happened to your sermon posts?

January 07, 2007 1:43 AM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Thanks, bro.

I have not been posting sermons of late, as I have not been writing them out. That is a process which takes longer than composing it; at the same time, the discipline of writing can be helpful for organization.

As things settle out here, I'd like to get back to doing that; we'll see how it goes.

January 07, 2007 6:09 PM  

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