confessions of a pastor: weddings and funerals

anybody who’s been in the ministry more than about two weeks has funny stories about weddings and funerals.  they are simply best source for human stupidity on display.  my experiences are not unique, nor are they particularly entertaining.  nevertheless, in keeping with my promise to give my faithful readers (both of you) a candid peek behind the pastoral curtain (kinda’ like the iron curtain, but more clandestine), i am today throwing this area of my life open to scrutiny and criticism.

occasionally, i wish i’d kept track of how many weddings i’ve performed.  i did not, though, and now i’m glad i didn’t because the sheer volume would depress me.  some of my colleagues, men of utmost character all, are very discriminating when it comes to performing marriages.  they set high standards, and then get deeply involved with relatively few couples.  i, however, am easily engaged.  i don’t do weddings for the money (frankly, i’d starve), but i have performed weddings for people i barely knew.  i’ve done weddings in living rooms and corporate offices and apartment clubhouses.  i’ve married business tycoons to their secretaries and soldiers to their weeping sweethearts the evening before they shipped out.  my record for flimsiest union is two weeks, but several have stayed married for many years and appear as though they will stay married until the end.

i didn’t set out to marry anyone who asked and, although it may not sound like it, i don’t (i do occasionally turn couples down).  but with everything i do, i try to think redemptively.  of the many couples i’ve married because they didn’t have a pastor, i made friends with most of them and have designs on adding them to the kingdom.  in fact, i have two families in my church that i met in just that way.  weddings are happy, social gatherings that make amazing opportunities for the gospel.  in fact, i think jesus liked weddings.  i always try to stay for the reception and get to know people.  i do leave, though, before i put a damper on the revelry.

i did one outdoor wedding where the wedding party was drunk before i got there.  that one was interesting.

frankly, i prefer funerals to weddings.  i’m usually dealing with an older crowd, and most of my jokes don’t work as well, but at funerals people seem to be very open to consider spiritual things.    one thing weddings and funerals have in common is dreadful music.  until recently, a happy country song had not been composed, so all cowboy

weddings used songs that were terribly inappropriate (i.e.: “the dance”).  in one of my weddings, the couple walked out to “dirty dancing” (i love the part that says, “this could be love because i’ve had the time of my life”).  let someone sing a hymn at a funeral and they will invariably sing all five verses…and maybe write one of their own.  i recently officiated at a funeral where the hippie son wanted “stairway to heaven” played for his mom.  it’s not that ”stairway to heaven” is a terrible song, but it is soooo  loooooonnnnggg.  and the part where robert plant is screaming, “yaa-aah…yaa-aah” while jimmy page is shredding on a solo is a little tedious.

i’ve never fainted at a wedding like the preachers on america’s funniest home videos.  i’ve never seen the bottom fall out of a casket, but i’ve heard of it.  i’ve never fallen into an open grave, but i once worked with a guy who has.  that would be scary funny.  but i have done funerals for teenagers who committed suicide.  and i’ve done funerals for infants.  and i’ve buried a young bride who drowned on her honeymoon.  dying is a part of life, but it still sucks.  and grief is incredibly painful.  but jesus is very, very faithful and he is more compassionate than i can describe.

and if you’ve had a wedding and you’re now wishing for a funeral, jesus can help you, too


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