Wednesday, December 13, 2006


When I was in seminary, the line was that funerals were "better" than weddings. I don't remember hearing an actual person say it, but I know it was the common wisdom.

I have now officiated at a number of each. Because I require premarital counseling with me, I've spent a lot of time with couples. And because I usually don't know the deceased, I've spent a goodly amount of time with the bereaved. Here's what I know:
  • Engaged people lie. A lot. They lie to each other and they lie to me. Most of the time they don't realize they're doing it.
  • Bereaved people lie. They do it to protect the good memories, and so as to not affront anyone.
  • Engaged people are focused on the wedding day. The rest is too hard to contemplate, and a great unknown.
  • Bereaved people are focused on the funeral. The rest is too hard to contemplate, and they fear they do know it.

But everyone is relieved, for a moment, when the event is over. And God attends every wedding and funeral God is invited to.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman attended our worship service for the first time. She looked vaguely familiar, but since she was sitting with a woman I knew I figured I'd met her before. Turns out I'd performed her wedding a couple of years back, and that the marriage had broken up, for all the reasons I'd warned them about. She hadn't remembered that this was "my" church, and I hadn't remembered her. She came and left, lightly.

We held a funeral on Monday for a woman I had never met. Her husband is a sweet and good man, broken by the loss of his wife. He had the funeral at our church campus because he and his wife had been married there 20 years ago. The pastor at that time basically told him he needed to shape up and be a man to his wife. And he was, and he said goodbye to her Monday.

I can't say I prefer funerals, but I know that God is asked to attend them more often.

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