I have had the pleasure of meeting with different groups of people today and realised even more what a privilege the ‘priestly’ part of this role is. It seems to me that it is a gift a bit like the reverse of Jon’s gift of faith that I linked to last week. This gift box is still open but the more I decide to venture into the gift box, the more I find to take out (rather than looking to add things in the cartoon) and if I have the guts to step out and use some of ‘items’ I am quite overawed at what God does.
One of those situations in which I am incredibly conscious what I have been entrusted with is with funerals. I have mentioned this before but I really am surprised by how much supporting people at such a special and rough time is nothing other than a privilege even though the experience can be quite painful. As I prepare for a funeral I remember funerals I have attended and surprised, I guess, by the pain that I still hold for myself in relation to my friend or family member that has died. That pain does not seem to get less – it seems to me that we just think about it less but when it comes to the front of our thoughts it has the same level of pain that it ever had. I wonder if my consciousness of this pain allows me to gain some empathy with the family I am dealing with.
For the week or so before the funeral and then for a few weeks after I pray for the families that I have had contact with and Adrian has suggested that I should contact them within 7 to 10 days to see how things are going. If I am honest when this was originally suggested it petrified me! I think I will always be nervous but I have, however, been surprised at the overwhelming positive reaction of those I have contacted a week or so after the funeral. The knowledge that when life all around them seems to move on and forget, that there is still a community holding them in prayer before God seems to be appreciated.
Today while out and about again I have found that breaking through the pain of personal awkwardness and embarrassment can be a good thing to do in opening me and others up to what God is doing behind the scenes. I guess this is the same for all of us – it can be awkward to ask how things are and we don’t need to ordained to ask it but I wonder what life would be like if we did not politely avoid the awkward moments? Not only can we support other people but I’m also finding that we experience something different of God as well.