This past Tuesday, March 4, I performed my first funeral as pastor of the Mount Airy Charge. It has been something I expectedto eventually have to do, but have been dreading since I was first assigned. A member of St. Andrews UMC died late Saturday night. I had been to visit him numerous times since last July; in the hospital, at the rehab facility, and at home. While he had been through a lot and was very ill, when you would walk in the room you wouldn't get the impression that he was sick. He was the healthiest looking sick person I had ever seen.
When he died I didn't feel totally comfortable with the possibility of giving the eulogy. I sincerely prayed that God would get me through this somehow. I had gotten to know him somewhat, but didn't feel I was right one to do it. Fortunately they asked a former pastor of St. Andrews UMC to do that duty. That pastor had known him for over 40 years; they were friends and had hunted together many times. They had a history, that I lacked. He was just who was needed. A prayer answered. We also had the pastor of his son to take a part in the service. So we had a retired Methodist pastor, a Baptist pastor, and me doing various parts of the service. Oh, I had best not forget the pianist; Joanne played the piano.
The church was full. It is a good measure of a person when so many come to pay their respects. The Renan Volunteer Fire Department was there. He had been a member of the volunteer fire department for 40 years. After the funeral we went to the cemetery. The big red fire truck led the way with lights flashing. The Sheriff's Department met us at every intersection, led us through Altavista and out onto Route 29. They did a excellent job. We were concerned that it might start to rain, but it held off until after we were all done.
My concern was that I would get it right my first time for the family. When it was over I felt like I could breathe again. Everything went off as it should. No one dragged on too long or messed up their part. I really don't relish the opportunity to do another one any time soon, but I know God will get me through, just like He always does.