Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Friend Dies

A couple of years ago, I was in the room (I've done this hundreds of times) at the hospital where one of my members, an older man, was dying. His three daughters where there. They were in their mid to late fifties and, you would think, experienced a lot of life. But, in that moment they were frantic, asking questions about their dad's every noise and move.

I wanted to say: "Just be quiet and watch. This is a holy moment. Watch, listen, God is here. But, it occurred to me that these three women, mature you could say, had never experienced death. It seemed weird to me. By the time I was 13 I had experienced the deaths of at least three relatives. One was my grandfather, who was in effect my father.

Today I attended the death of a friend who was ten years older than I. He was one of my preachers when I was a district superintendent in Rock Hill, SC. I moved him my last year and he came down with cancer. After receiving a liver transplant, he died. It just didn't work this time.

The service was a great celebration of his life. We sang, and cried, and prayed, and then we left the church. I was a Pall Bearer. I've been one several times. It's an honor and a privilege. It's also a daunting task.

My friend was heavy in life and heavy, now, in death. We lifted his casket to the hearse, and then to the grave. We Pall Bearers, all pastors, walked alongside that casket like little soldiers escorting someone to the dance, the last dance.

My tears were over his loss. He was a good man, a loving father, an effective United Methodist Pastor. We will miss him.

I go to funerals all the time. Sometimes I go to the funeral of someone who was a close friend. Today I went to carry my friend the last yard to his resting place. As scripture says: "And their works do follow them..."

When a pastor dies, other United Methodist pastors, are honorary Pall Bearers. We are part of this great line of witnesses. What a great fellowship it is.


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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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