BY LUKE HEIM
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH PASTOR
September 10, 2009 “Funeral Crasher.”
I was the youth pastor of a small church in Colorado. The minister at the time was bi-vocational. He worked at the power plant full time and then preached on Sundays. A sister of a member of our church died. She called Pastor Dean to ask if he would be willing to do the service downtown at the mortuary. He agreed, and then said, let him know when it was so he could make arrangements to get off work. Of course, the member of our church forgot to inform Pastor Dean of the date and time of the funeral. The next think I know, the church phone rings. “Pastor Luke, what are you doing right now?” “Nothing I said, what do you need?” “Well, Pastor Dean is unable to perform the funeral for my sister. We were wondering if you’d be available.” “Oh, well, I have never performed a funeral, but I’m sure I could do it.” “Great. We’re all sitting here at the mortuary, so whenever you can get here that would be wonderful.”
The next 20 minutes were a blur. I remember going home to get on a suit, asking my wife to look up a basic order of service and some funeral scriptures, and racing downtown to the mortuary. The first thing I remember was the place packed with about 200 hearing “In the Garden” for the 10th time. They rushed me over to the family to say a quick prayer. I asked a few basic questions to help know at least the name of the deceased and with knees knocking, walked up to the podium to lead the welcome and prayer. I remember soaking in everything I could during the service: the hymns, the slide show, the eulogy, and the sharing time in order to piece together some scripture and a short message. Feeling a sign of relief after the closing prayer, the member of our church thanked me, and with a sheepish grin said, “Now are you ready for the graveside?”
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be a funeral crasher. To barge into a room full of strangers and lead them with compassion in their grief was truly miraculous. Jesus did this too, you know. In Luke 7:11-17, the city of Nain is leaving town to bury the son of a widow. As Jesus enters, he crashes the funeral procession. With compassion, he places his hands on the boy and brings him back to life. Most of us don’t crash funerals, because it’s none of our business. But Jesus does. Compassion means going out of our way where we have no business being and showing big time love. Maybe it’s time to bust up some places you’re not supposed to be today and show big time love. If a scared, 30-year-old youth pastor could rise to the occasion, you can too.