This weeks offering is all about preacher "stuff".
First, some of you may be made to feel uncomfortable about parts of this week’s article.
Second, if you read this and find this turns out to be the case, read no further.
How many of you folks have heard or even said "oh my God"? The first time I used this phrase I was chastised by my mother. I was embarrassed and felt badly because I had offended her. It occurred at Mitchell A.F.B. in New York. I was in the third or fourth grade. I had to go to the base hospital for something and in the parking lot was a really cool hot rod. I said "OMG, will you look at that car". I had heard one of the "big kids" in the neighborhood use the phrase, so I did the same: Wrong thing to do.
Mom said those famous words "what did you just say"? I immediately knew this was not going to end well.
I hummed and mumbled something and that did not work out well. She told me that was not something she ever wanted me to say again. It was not acceptable in her world. I lived in mom’s world. If mom was not happy, I was not going to be happy. I never used that phrase again.
In my adolescent years in Sunday school I learned and studied the Ten Commandments and saw the "never use the Lord’s name in vain" commandment. OMG and GD were/are using the Lord’s name in vain. If it is in the Bible then it is serious. I encourage you to not use these two phrases in your vocabulary. When you use them you are hurting Him. You will be better for it. Find some other words to express your excitement or frustration.
The next issue on my rant list is about funerals. Have you planned yours yet? My good friend, Ross McSwain, writer for the San Angelo Standard Times gave me this idea at his funeral. Strange, huh? In good days Ross planned his entire funeral: from the music he wanted played during his viewing, to the scripture he wanted read and by whom, to who was going to preach and the scripture that was going to be offered. He had covered it all and had written copious notes, (imagine a writer leaving precise notes), explaining directions for each participant to follow. Ross was not a control freak, just very well organized. This may seem strange, but in reality it was a massive gift to his family. The family did not have to guess what Ross wanted at his funeral. He had planned it all for them.
Think about it this way. Your loved one just died and you have to go to the funeral home and pick out the casket, select music for the funeral, find the right scripture to read, and select the pallbearers for the funeral. Is that a daunting task? What are your mom’s or dad’s favorite hymns? Do you know? What about the scripture they might want read at their services? Who would they want to lead the service? Are you ready to handle this challenge?
A good friend of mine for over thirty-five years has already asked me to preside over his funeral. He is not planning on leaving any time soon, but he has his funeral already planned. It is a gift to his wife. She won't have to struggle with planning and making the final details for his funeral. He has selected the music he wants played before, during, and after the service. He has the scripture he wants me to preach on and he has his pallbearers already selected. Have you even thought about your
own funeral? What if the folks doing your service make you "roll over in your grave" at the things they might do at your funeral? Now is the time to do this.
My sister fought that idea with me and my parents. She said it was not anything she wanted to be part of. She said, "It was gross" to be doing these things when mom and dad were still alive. What better time? Let them tell us their ideas and not make us guess at what they might want at their service.
Seriously friends, now is the time to do the difficult things so others won't have to do them for us. Take a minute and write down your last wishes. Your family is not mind readers so they will not know what you wanted. Your funeral: your choices. Do it while you can offer your thoughts about what you really want, not what they think you might have wanted.
Professionally I cannot tell you how valuable this simple list is to those folks who have to process your death. Don't make them struggle with the "I wish we had talked about this" issues. Do it now, not later. Be Well, Gary K
Pastor Gary Karschner is the pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Miles and is a frequent contributor to the Runnels County Register.