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Today I Officiated a Funeral

Today I officiated a funeral.

I led my family through my Grandma Carol’s funeral.

It was the first funeral I presided over, so I had a mix of emotions going into it. I wanted to respect my family and her life. I wanted to give space for sorrow while also reminding them of hope. And I also wanted to do a good job. Many pastors and theologians I’ve read express that funerals are some of the best parts of their jobs. It is a privilege and a responsibility, not to be taken lightly, and gives us the opportunity to support people in their hardest moments.

More than that, it forces us to confront life and death, two things we all participate in without knowing when the first will end and the next begins. We are either living or we are dying, always. 

I like to write about the insignificant moments of each day and the importance we find in them when we are really focused on the present. Funerals demand that even more. Picking out an outfit to honor someone’s life requires more thought than choosing what to wear to work. Dirt looks different when it’s next to a casket than it does when planting a garden. Sitting in chairs under a tent outside here is an altogether separate experience than a weekend camping trip, even though the ingredients are the same. 

Insignificant moments become significant when we choose for them to. 

Or when they choose for us. 

This funeral was undoubtedly a significant moment. 

I’d like to share a portion of the service here. Although it is a detour from my regular writing, it is what I did today and that’s what this space is for. Whether you are grieving or not, I hope you will find some comfort in the following words. 

There is a passage of Scripture that is shared at nearly every funeral or end of life service, which is Psalm 23. It’s a passage of lament to which we can turn when we need comfort and peace the most. 

The author of this Psalm was David, who is mostly remembered as a King but really had a lot of struggles and difficulties in his life. As a boy, he was a shepherd who played a lot of music. Then he killed a giant to save his people, but his king wanted to kill him. He fought and won almost every battle, but the jealousy of the king led him to switch armies and fight against his own people before ultimately becoming king and growing a huge empire. 

Out of David’s chaotic life, he wrote some of the most relatable songs, which we call Psalms, because he understood the highs and lows of life. When we are confronted with death, we are forced to reflect on these highs and lows. Psalm 23 reminds that God does not abandon us in either. 

“The Lord is my shepherd;

    I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

    he leads me beside peaceful streams.

    He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

    bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk

    through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

    for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

    protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me

    in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

    My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

    all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord


Grandma Carol and I didn’t talk much about faith. When I inquired about her experience with Jesus, the general consensus was that she loved Him but had some issues with the church. Don’t we all! As a pastor who was fired from her congregation, I feel like I’m qualified to speak to that. Unfortunately, church people can sometimes be the most difficult to interact with. Like David who wrote the Psalm, they have intentions to fight for their people and fight for a godly cause, but also like David, can sometimes end up being on the other team fighting against themselves. 

This is where his words in Psalm 23 really transform into comfort for me. Even in the presence of our enemies, even in our darkest valleys, God is there. His goodness and unfailing love pursues us, in the highs and the lows. He is there protecting us, even among the evil of his own people. Just like David fought and killed many of his own people, the church sometimes does that, too. But no matter what side he was on, no matter the oppression he was facing from his own family, he needed God. I love that a man who was remembered as a King, who destroyed nations and conquered all his enemies wrote so candidly about his need for God. 

I wonder if this is what Grandma Carol felt? I’m not sure. What I do know is that even though she is no longer with us, her faith lives on in us today. Both the trust and the frustration, the joy and the pain of her faith permeates our own. She leaves a legacy of honesty regarding Jesus and the church, something that is seen in the story of David and all throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. This legacy is something that no matter where we are at in our lives – no matter the highs or the lows – we can remember that we are not alone. God is with us there, and Grandma felt these highs and lows too. Her faith and her honesty remind us that we don’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way to experience the love, hope, grace, peace, and comfort that a relationship with Jesus offers. 

Today I officiated a funeral. And I will never be the same.

Thanks for making this a part of your day!
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