This morning I traveled to Salem, MO, to officiate a funeral for a wonderful gentleman in our congregation, Mr. Tom Brown. As it so happens, this is the second time I've traveled to Salem to officiate a funeral, even though I've never been a pastor nor lived near Salem. Seven or eight years ago a family in my last church made a similar request of me -- would I be willing to travel to Salem, maybe 25 miles or so from Rolla and not near our church, for their loved one's funeral? In both cases, I was glad to help.
Following the funeral and grave site, after I led in a final, closing prayer, the funeral home director came forward for what is usually a "this concludes our services," or some such comment. Instead, he surprised me by saying, "He done right by y'all, didn't he? I think I could listen to him." He was, of course, offering his reflection on my words at the funeral and grave site.
Leaving aside how much easier a long, well-lived life like Tom's makes it on his pastor, it just struck me as odd that the director felt comfortable granting a commentary. Do the local pastor's receive similar reviews? If so, how would one feel if he or she received none (I'm going to assume he would be polite enough not to offer a negative review -- out-loud anyway :) ).
Regardless, it did make me smile. Small-town life is certainly different than city life. However off-guard he may have caught me, I suppose every pastor hopes those complimentary words he spoke are true: We are given the privilege of trying to "do right" by our families. Or at least the closest we can.
Grace and peace,
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