Saying "no" at Funerals and Being Hated for it, or, Why I love being a parish pastor

Every time someone in the congregation dies, there is this dread that immediately sets in for pastors (I would also add when someone gets married, but I’ve only had one wedding in 4 1/2 years, so…). What is the source of this dread? Self-centered people and musicians who think that church music is about performing for people. As I am talking on the phone to the funeral director or member of the family for the first time about funeral arrangements, I’m always relieved when we get through the conversation with no mention of “special music.” And believe me, I don’t bring it up if they don’t. But usually the conversation goes something like this: “Well, pastor, I guess that about covers it.” (I’m thinking, “Whew! Great!”). “Okay,” I say. “I guess we’ll see you on…” “Pastor? I forgot. There was one more thing” (I’m thinking, “Oh S_ _t”) “My nephew wants to sing something after the sermon.” “Oh really,” I say as I bash my head several times on my desk. “Great! I have some hymns that he can choose from.” “Uh, pastor, he plays in a band and has a song he wrote for his grandmother.” “I see,” I say calmly as I shove toothpicks up my fingernails. “Well, I need to discuss this music with him.” “Okay, pastor, he’ll be at the viewing tomorrow night.” “Wonderful,” I say in a cheerful tone, as I look around for a window to jump out of, only to realize that my office is in the basement of the church.

So we’re at the viewing tonight (this is real, by the way). I meet “the nephew.” I can tell immediately that he is about 35, plays in a church band at some mega non-denom church with Starbucks in the welcome center. But I’m prepared. I copied off the hymns for him to select from, and take the initiative. “Here are a couple of hym…” “Pastor Paul, or can I just call you Paul.” “Hi, yes, Pastor Beisel is fine.” “I have this song that I wrote for my grandfather when he died and I adapted it for my grandmother. It really means a lot to me. It’s about how she has her wings now, and, well, I just really think it would be nice.” “I’m sorry sir, I understand your desire to share this song with everyone, but I just don’t think it would be appropriate. We don’t believe that people become angels when they die.” And, as I expected, the irenic tone changed immediately to anger and hurt feelings. “Well, uh, I…this is terrible. Maybe I’ll just find someone else to do the funeral.” “I’m sorry sir, I really would love to have you sing, but it will have to be one of these hymns of my choosing.” So the guy comes back up a couple different times huffing and puffing, and making a scene in front of the whole family and friends. I finally make my exit, unable to stop shaking for the next half hour.

So, here is my commentary. Some people just cannot take “no” for an answer. I am unapologetically in charge of what goes on in the services of the church, and I do not have a problem telling people “no.” This makes people mad. Instead of humbly and respectfully approaching me to ask me if it would be okay if they sang something, they come expecting that they deserve the right to be there, no matter what anyone says. It is really quite childish actually. This is nothing but self-centeredness and pride. I have no patience for this kind of attitude. And this, supposedly coming from a “victorious Christian” pop singer. The problem is, I didn’t get the sense that he was going to back down. I think he might actually show up tomorrow with guitar in hand at the church, expecting to play it during the prelude or something. We’ll see. I used to be softer about this kind of thing with funerals and weddings. I listened to the naysayers (even amongst pastors who ought to know better) and gave in a couple of times to songs that probably weren’t heretical, but I didn’t think they were very good. “Oh, just let them have their songs. It’s not going to kill you to have a couple of schmaltzy songs in the service.” Right, it may not kill me, but it may demonstrate to those who come that our church is just like every other Protestant, wishy-washy, TBN following Church.

I don’t give in anymore. Actually, I’m more willing to be lenient if it is a member of the church who is making requests on behalf of their deceased loved one. But in this case, I know I am in the right, and will not budge. “He will make your forehead like flint of steel.”

Update on Funeral: There was a message from the funeral home on the church answering machine this morning saying that the family got together last night and decided to have the funeral at the funeral home, and “my services would not be needed.” This is the third time this has happened to me in the last two years. This is the third person of my congregations whom I have ministered to during the last years of their life that I have not gotten the privilege to bury because of unhappy family members. I wonder if this one will be accompanied by a four page, single-space letter from one of the family members explaining to me how much of a jerk I am. And Jesus said: “Rejoice in that day, and be exceedingly glad, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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31 Responses to Saying "no" at Funerals and Being Hated for it, or, Why I love being a parish pastor

  1. Chris Jones says:

    You are right on the money, Pr Beisel.

    A funeral is not a private affair for the benefit of the bereaved family, nor is it a “memorial” of the departed, an occasion to talk about how great he was (or wasn’t, as the case may be). It is a worship service of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, in which the Church exercises her ministry of Word and Sacrament (well, I suppose requiem masses are rare in the Lutheran Church, but you know what I mean).

    Since it is the worship of the Church, you are in charge. You’re the shepherd. The man who wants so desperately to sing at the funeral would not bring his guitar and insert himself into your regular weekly Divine Service (at least, I hope not); why, then, does he think he can insert himself into the Church’s liturgy on any other occasion?

    I was honored to sing at my mother’s funeral; it was her dying wish. But she not only asked me to sing, she asked her priest to have me sing, and gave him the song she wanted (which was perfectly orthodox, BTW) for his blessing. I should have been uncomfortable, to say the least, to have participated in the liturgy without the priest’s blessing.

  2. OSC says:

    I concur. It’s a difficult yet vital thing that we maintain good theology throughout the worship of the church without pissing on the honest piety of the weaker Christian. It’s the second bit that makes it an art form.

    I’ve experienced this more in the wedding arena. I thank God (and CPH) for putting the wedding service in the pew edition of LSB. If only the funerary liturgies had been included as well, if only so that folks could read them.

    If he wants to sing in honor of his grandmother, he can do it just as well in the home for the family if it’s that important to him/them.

    I had one funeral several months ago where the family was set on having a memorial service type of thing. It was actually a really great experience for me. We talked, I walked through the funeral service with them and we were able to talk about the significance of it all. In the end they elected to do the funeral liturgy–in its entirety–and then afterward have the family and friends sharing time about the young man’s life. And you know what? The teens and twenty-somethings as well as the boomers and older folks were frankly amazed at the richness and power of the service–not the reminiscing afterward. Now that’s relevant worship.

  3. Favorite Apron says:

    I applaud you for sticking to your guns, Pastor. It brings respect back to the Pastoral Office.

    I think the dinner/party/wake afterwards is the perfect place for tributes to Grandma.

    Congrats on your new little one. : )

  4. Der Bettler says:

    The fact that you were shaking for half an hour afterward, as you said, should be an indication that you were not on a “power trip,” but were genuinely concerned about this and were convicted enough about it to override your instinct to make peace. I sincerely wish more pastors had the guts you do.

    I have an entire section of my will (as does my wife in hers) dedicated to the funeral rites, and it prohibits “special music” not approved by the pastor, eulogies, civil honors, non-Lutheran clergy, slideshows, and anything else that might promote heresy or detract from the assurance of the resurrection of the body or the assurance of eternal life. In fact, my pastor signed the will as a witness. My in-laws are Pentecostal and sentimental as the day is long — and I don’t want them messing with my last chance to proclaim Christ as my body is laid to await its resurrection.

    I attended the funeral of my wife’s great-grandmother a couple of years ago, and the presiding minister was one of those old-timey Baptist country ministers who felt that God’s mouthpieces should dress like John Wayne. After he said a few words about the deceased (and conspicuously none about Christ), he invited people to come up to the podium and give some kind words about her. Seven or eight came forward and shared fond personal memories and vague spiritual babble. When one of them said something to the effect of “if anyone deserved to go to heaven, she did,” my wife’s muscles tensened up and she began to sweat. Before I knew it, she was headed to the podium after the other person had walked back to her seat. My wife then proceeded to tell about how she did not deserve heaven at all, and neither did any of us, but it was by grace that God saved us through Christ, and only that would be our assurance. It’s sad that a man who had “preached” for sixty-plus years was shown up by a woman who had been a Christian less than five. But, I had to wonder, if that’s what the family wanted — the sentimental, sappy “memorial service” — why did they bother hiring a Christian pastor? Why did they need a pastor, if all they were going to do was show pictures and talk about Grandma’s cooking?

  5. Michelle says:

    Der Bettler- since wills are often not read until well after a funeral, you should make your wishes known otherwise- either in a prearrangement with a funeral home or by spreading your documented wishes widely among friends and family.

    Pastor- as a funeral director myself, I have to say I’m sorry to see this situation arose. It sounds like it was incredibly stressful for you and for the family. It’s a shame the family was so upset that they chose to forego a proper liturgy because of it.

    Although I respect your desire to stay true to the beliefs and guidelines of your church, is there no room to compromise? Could the song have been sung immediately before or after the liturgy instead of within it? Perhaps at the funeral home before procession to the church, or at the grave?

    Sticking to your guns is admirable, but I think it’s sad that it lead to so much drama and upheaval for you and the family.

  6. Lawrence says:

    My Pastor has a policy, no non-liturgical music in church. Period. Everyone knows it. And, yeah, people do get upset.

  7. Pastor Beisel says:

    Lawrence, that’s pretty much my policy too.

    Michelle, I have found for the most part that funeral directors are part of the problem. They give the families the idea from the outset by the questions they ask them that the funeral service is something that is arranged by the funeral home and the family. When my father died, the first question the funeral director asked was, “What songs would you like at the funeral?” Of course, my brother, sister, and mom and I answered, “We will discuss that with the pastor.” Most people don’t know any better. So by the time they get to me, it is too late. I try to tell funeral directors ahead of time that they need to direct all questions about the service to me. But it is not their standard protocol it seems. The problem is that funeral directors are all about pleasing people and satisfying their desires. That’s all fine and good, until it comes to planning the service, because the church does not work that way. My job and the job of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel. It is also to guard the ears and hearts of people from false doctrine.

    As for compromise, I cannot imagine myself walking into someone’s office and demand that something be done my way. What do I know about computers, cars, or accounting? Why is it then that people think they can come into my workplace, my place of expertise, and expect me to compromise with them. Have they had eight years of theological and post-graduate training? Have they studied the history, theology, and biblical foundations of Worship? No. Just like I have not studied accounting, marketing, computers, or what have you. I don’t expect people who are not pastors, much less members of the church to know these things or understand them. But I do expect the same kind of courtesy shown toward me as I would show them. As the pastor in that place, I do know what is best. I know what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. I spend my time every week planning the worship of our church.

    For the sake of peoples’ weakness, yes, some times I have made allowances, but unlike the song that this person wanted to sing, it did not contain false doctrine. It was not heretical. The problem is, people particularly outside of the church (but also inside the church often) have no respect for my Office as pastor. The proper thing for this man to have done would have been to say, “Pastor, I know that I am not a member of your church and admit that I do not know how things are done there. Still, I have this song that I wrote, and I would love to share it with everyone. Is the church service the proper time or place to do this? If not, I completely understand, and I will go along with whatever you say. You’re the pastor, after all.”

  8. Pastor Beisel says:

    Why does the compromise always have to be on my end? That is the question. Why is the pastor the one expected to compromise and conform? Why can it not be expected of the people to compromise? I don’t understand this.

  9. Lincoln - BoW says:

    A couple of things:

    1. talking at teh viewinig is always bad.

    2. Funeral Directors don’t like to be told they aren’t in charge. nothing you can do will change this, except perhaps “gonig off” on them and saying, “If I am not at the planning session with the family, there will be no funeral at our church. Period.” I show up at them ini town here. In Chicago, I was never invited.

    3. If the family doesn’t want me to help with their grieving process, they can hold the body hostage – they can not stop me from doing a memorial service at my church for their loved one. (Then we can have communion – no family to ‘offend’ with our practice of closed communion.) Nor can they stop me from going to the cemetary and blessing the remains as they are placed into the grave. Or at least after they are.

    I only got one of those nice “letters” in my time in Chicago. None here though. In Chicago, the most respect I ever received at a funeral was for a lady who was formerly from an African American Baptist parish before becooming Lutheran. Her Baptist family had the funeral at the funeral home (the family all lived on the other side of town from us.) They changed everything about their service to match what the lutheran church did – closed casket, my music, it was actually amazing.

    Her fomer (Baptist) pastor did a “Eulogy” after the service. Of course, he did what I would do – he preached a short sermon. One of the best gospel sermons I’ve ever heard.

    You did no wrong. It was lose-lose. I annoyed every funeral director I worked w/ in Chicago. One thing that is helpful is “at my funeral I want…” sheets. Get them to say that they want it at the church. Then no matter what you say, the family feels like dirt if they move it. You can even preface things with, “I know they really wanted a funeral at the church…”

    By the way, the first paragraph – I’ve lived that one myself. Many a toothpick under the fingernail to show for it.



  10. Michelle says:

    I don’t think the compromise has to be solely on your end. This person wanted to sing a song *during* the service. Having him do it at the grave or before the service is compromise on both sides.

    As far as the role of the funeral director with the clergy…in my community, I tend to work with the same few churches on a consistent basis and have a pretty good understanding of how things vary from one parish to the next, and even between pastor and associate pastor. When I ask a family what hymns they want sung, I already know, for the most part, what is ok and what’s not. If there is anything that is the least bit questionable, then of course that should be discussed directly with whomever is presiding.

    I have never tried to position myself as being equal to any priest or pastor in terms of theological knowledge, and I pity anyone- funeral director or otherwise- who does. However, just because I don’t understand why a fax machine works doesn’t mean that I can’t send a fax. I was born and raised Catholic, but I know enough to advise Jewish families against flowers.

    On the other hand, people walk in and tell me all the time how I should do my job. Some families have beautifully unique ways they’ve envisioned to honor their loved ones…others honestly startle me.

    Yes, there was certainly a better way this man could have posed his question, but you and I both know that we are often not ourselves during a time of grief. I just think it’s sad this couldn’t have come to a more amiable conclusion for all parties involved.

  11. Pastor Beisel says:

    Okay, let me take the edge off a bit, and say, that on my end I tried to be amiable. I offered two different hymns from which he could choose to sing. When that wasn’t good enough, I suggested that if he really wanted to perform the song for his family that the best time would be at a family gathering. I have on several occasions made similar suggestions to people and they usually realize that it is a much better idea. This time it didn’t work. His song, though he didn’t realize it, was inappropriate anywhere at any time because it contained false teaching. It didn’t matter if it was done outside of the church (which would have been rather cold today). There was no way in God’s green earth I was going to allow that to be sung, and I too regret that it turned out the way it did. But I’m sorry, this one was not my fault by any stretch of the imagination. Only a funeral director (no offense to you personally) would see blame on both ends.

  12. katie says:

    It is sad, indeed, Michelle.
    But it was sad way before the pastor ‘refused’ to compromise.
    Some things are not up for compromise. Some things are meant to be conceded: left to the experts and professionals. A funeral is not just the family’s occasion; it’s the church’s as well.
    For what it’s worth, weddings are only less painful because there’s rarely any grief aggravating the circumstances. But families expect just as much control over them as over funerals.
    For some reason, people expect the church, on those occasions at least, to be nothing more than a proper venue as opposed to the house of God, and for the pastor to behave like the mere paid employee they must have taken him to be all along.

  13. Pastor Beisel says:

    Look, I’m making a big deal out of this because it happens all too frequently. And I’m tired of having my right as a pastor to bury my members unceremoniously denied me by families who have no connection to the church (only the deceased was a member). I’m irked. I’ll get over it. ACtually I already am. I’m only sad that I didn’t get to proclaim the comforting words of Jesus to them, most of whom were unbelievers.

    My beef is not with funeral directors. It wasn’t their fault on this occasion. In fact, it had nothing to do with them. This was about a childish, self-centered musician, who couldn’t take no for an answer. If there was a way to avoid this, believe me, I would have looked for it. This was out of my hands. My feeling is that there is way too much compromising going on in the church today already. Many pastors refuse to be pastors. They take the easy way out. I took the hard way this time, and paid the price, but the alternative would have compromised the Gospel, which is much more important than me. I’m more afraid of God than I am of men.

  14. Past Elder says:

    You are right on, Pastor, and bravo for sticking to it.

    I had been Lutheran for just short of a year when my wife died. The pastor explained that his main purpose was to proclaim to those present, many of whom probably only show up in a church for a wedding or a funeral, the faith by which my wife was now in heaven.

    It was magnificent. The funeral sermon left no doubt, as I’ve put it elsewhere on the blogoshpere, that the only dead people present were those who did not trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life with God.

    She had that faith, or so it seems to me. There isn’t any number of songs or eulogies I could compose that would be as fitting a tribute to her as to have a pastor exercise his office to proclaim that faith, in his sermon and the entire order of service, to those present.

  15. Lawrence says:

    The compromise isn’t supposed to be at your end. The fact that people don’t understand this is the very heart of the problem. And there is no body to tell them differently unless you do.

    This is also probably why the number of church weddings is going down.

    Wandering off on a Tangent:

    I have not yet had to deal with making funeral arrangements, but when I married it was understood up front that we would have a traditional Lutheran Service wedding. Some people thought it silly, but letting the pastor arrange the service made for a very formal and respectful environment, as well as making overall arrangements much simpler for us.

    We didn’t have communion because of all the non-Lutheran guests, but the pastor did kneels us at the Alter for blessings. Our Lutheran guests knew what to expect, but it was a really powerful example for the other guests that we where taking the religious aspects of this marriage thing serious.

    The real point was that the service wasn’t solely about us. Which after many trials is about the only reason we are still married. The fact that we both vowed before God and everybody, and both asked for His blessings, is often the singular common event that keeps us focused when our stubborn human nature gets in our way.

  16. Pastor Daniel Skillman says:

    Fr. Paul,
    I just wanted to let you know that the stance you took is the correct one. I support you and admire you for it.

    Imagine if you had upset the only wealthy family in your congregation, the one with connections to the District Office. I wonder if your calling would be in question right now if that were the case.

    Isn’t that sad that I wonder that? Isn’t it sad that we’ve been given cause to wonder that?

    In Christ
    Fr. Skillman

  17. Past Elder says:

    Amen Lawrence! It was the same for us at the beginning of our life to-gether as at the end — a Lutheran service right out of the book.

    And I wasn’t even Lutheran then! My wife was LCMS and we were married in an LCMS service by an LCMS pastor, with my full agreement. At the time I thought Christianity was a real nice idea but couldn’t possibly be true, since given the total mess in the churches his promise that the gates of hell should not prevail he couldn’t make good on therefore he wasn’t all he was claimed to be — Messiah, Saviour. But even then, I knew that marriage isn’t just about the couple, it’s a contract with society and a promise before God, so, at the time LCMS being the one church I respected for pulling back from the abyss (though now I’d say not as far as I might have hoped!) of the post Vatican II mess, I agreed to the whole thing, the real deal.

    Abd that’s the thing — weddings and funerals aren’t just about the couple or the deceased, and churches aren’t there to cater to us at life’s big moments. It’s really the same mindset that plagues even our regular services — is it about me, what I feel, what I do, or is it about what God has done for us in Jesus, the service of God to us in Word and Sacrament.

    I’m not a trained pastor or theologian, so pardon me if it has unintended ramifications, but I don’t even call it “worship” any more. It’s God’s service which he gives us in Word and Sacrament. It’s about what he is doing, not me/us. I think our lack of clarity on that, or functional disbelief in the Sacrament part, that leads us to “worship” as if we’re, well, worshipping instead of being served by God.

  18. Michelle says:

    You wrote, :“I’m tired of having my right as a pastor to bury my members unceremoniously denied me by families who have no connection to the church (only the deceased was a member).”

    I guess this is where you and I differ most. I’m often told by others, and sometimes feel myself, that being a funeral director is a type of ministry, in the sense that we provide comfort and support in a way that many people are ill-equiped and not disposed to do. Of course, I serve people of a million different persuasions, and never claimed to be an expert in their beliefs.

    However, regardless of whether I’m serving my own family, my neighbor, or a complete stranger, I never look at what I do as my right. It is a privelege that I am blessed and honored to have.

  19. Pastor Beisel says:

    Perhaps “right” is not the right word to use.

    You do play a very important role in this, no doubt about it. This post is not meant to undercut that at all. In my opinion, though, it is not the funeral director’s responsibility to help families arrange a funeral service when that service is being conducted by the pastor of the deceased in the church of which that person was a member. Just as it is not my responsibility to help the grieving family choose headstones. Each of us has a role, a part to play, with differing responsibilities. My responsibility, my duty (officium) includes planning and conducting the service, proclaiming God’s Word to the mourners, giving them spiritual guidance and counsel, and so forth. Of course, I would not say that a funeral director cannot offer his/her own support, comfort, encouragement from God’s Word as well. I’m just saying that, though it may be meant as such, it is not helpful when the funeral directors begin discussing things that pertain to the service itself (like music, songs, etc.).

  20. Lawrence says:

    What is sad is not that you didn’t get to bury your parishioner, but that you where denied the opportunity to witness to your parishioner’s family.

    They really have no idea what your parisioner’s faith and beliefs stand for.

    The family made the funeral about what they wanted, at the expense of the significance of the parishioners Faith Life.

  21. Kirken says:

    I came across your blog from another. I feel like I am getting myself into a bind.

    My DH is going in to become a LLC pastor here in Canada and I am in the process of becoming a Funeral Director.

    The bind that I am talking about is that I believe the same as you do and in some ways my studies say the same thing. But then my studies say that it is about the person and that they need to be remembered, memorialized. I don’t belive this but I have to take it.

    In my studies there was parts to do with the different churches and their beliefs. The Lutheran Church was not represented very well and things that were important were missing. I let my instructor know about these things.

    There was one thing that really caught my attention and really disturbed me. The statement read that if a funeral were performed in a funeral home by a Lutheran Minister then the litergical reading would most likely be omited. This is absolutely abserd. A Lutheran Funeral Service is the same regardless of where it is performed. And to have ministers that leave out the word of God something is terribly wrong.

  22. Pastor Beisel says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Lutheran church is not represented well. It rarely ever is. Be a funeral director. It is a good occupation. You don’t have to swallow everything that you read in textbooks. Take the best and leave the rest.

    The times that I have had to do a funeral service at the funeral parlor I have just done the exact same service, preached a sermon, read the lessons, even used a hymn. The difference between a funeral director and a pastor is that a funeral director’s main goal is to honor the wishes of the deceased and of the mourners. I will gladly honor their wishes, so long as those wishes are congruent with the service that I am providing, namely, a proper Christian burial, sanctified by God’s Word and prayer, and the proclamation of the Gospel. I will consider the requests of the prior requests of the deceased, but I make it clear that I make no guarantees.

  23. OSC says:

    If I may make a slight correction to what I commented above (though it seems unimportant enough to what’s been commented further), I meant that I wished the whole funeral liturgy were printed in the pew edition of the LSB–from commendation of the dying to the committal. As I said, it’s unimportant for the discussion as it’s progressed so I’ll bow out once again. Thanks for indulging me.

  24. Rev. Benjamin Mayes says:

    You’re right, Pr. Beisel. The thing that bothers me most is that the relationship of this deceased person to the congregation, Church, and pastor is treated as nothing. The unbelieving family claims the only relationship that counts. They treat the funeral as if it was for them alone.

    In Grand Rapids, the funeral directors were very sensitive regarding the customs of the various churches. As far as I know, we rarely ever had a problem with funeral directors. Maybe competition is the key. In GR, the funeral homes strove to please the pastors and fit seamlessly into the congregations customs and rituals, knowing where most of their referrals would come from. In a small town, on the other hand, I imagine the funeral director doesn’t have to care what a pastor thinks.

  25. Kirken says:

    In my studies I have come across some things that I am not to happy about and some that I’m happy to see them put in the study notes. It says that we should consider what the Minister has to say on the music and customs, but yet it talks about how we are to have an eulogy read by someone. They promote the funeral as memorilizing the dead. My thoughts are, if you are at my funeral you know who I am so why talk about my life. They are not going to mention anything bad regardless what type of person you are so why bother. But that is just my opinion.

  26. Scott says:

    Pr. Beisel,

    I am sorry this happened to you. I can only imagine what it is like to have ripped away from you the privilege to lay to rest your former charge here on earth.

    Did you have a sermon prepared? I would like to see it. Maybe on your blog?

    With the Tools and aid of your Master, you have shepherded this one through the veil. Now The Good Shepherd has completed what was begun.

    Well done.
    Peace be with you.

  27. Pastor Beisel says:


    Thanks for the words of support and encouragement. It is frustrating more than anything else. I am still, even after almost five years in the ministry, having my naive preconceived notions of what ministry would be like dashed. I really thought when I got out of the seminary that people would love to hear good theology. What the seminary should do is say to each student: okay, now you’ve got this great theology, don’t expect anyone to appreciate it. I guess they did do that to some extent, but the idealism of a fresh sem grad is hard to get rid of.

  28. Jim says:


  29. Past Elder says:

    I didn’t know you were that new in the OHM! Relating this to an earlier thread, the one about the unfortunate tendency to underrate new sem grads, the faithful pastor that preaching the magnificant sermon at my wife’s funeral in November was earlier the same year wondering where his first call would take him. If not knowing any better that to do what he was called to do and be faithful to the message he was taught is idealism, then I hope none of you lose it! I’ll take faithfulness over “experience” any day.

  30. Hot Cup Lutheran says:

    This remidns me very strongly of the Gospel from last Sunday… “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven…” (Lk 6:22-23a)

    Put your feet up – grab a latte – remember your call.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Hey Paul:

    I know what this situation is like too. Only mine didn’t need a letter, and the family hadn’t even discussed much with the funeral home yet. They just flat out told me that they didn’t want me seeing their mom before she died, or serving her funeral. They got a Methodist lay minister to do the funeral, who met her once or twice (since all “Christian denominations” are the same). Then they barred me from coming into the nursing home to see her.

    What was the issue, you ask? The family wanted to know if they could read cute poems at the service. I suggested that they could read poems at the lunch where they would be more suited. They hated that suggestion, and demanded to know who my “boss” was so they could “report”. When I told them that I don’t have a boss, it’s like they just wanted to hiss.

    I hope and pray that God can change these stubborn hearts, but I am reminded by the psalm that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved” – and that also goes for the opinions of this world too.

    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Fullerton, NE

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