30 January 2007

Pastoral parameters

So it has been a morning of phone-calling while trying to figure out what exactly is happening with this funeral I'm officiating tomorrow morning. This dear man who passed away has two sons -- one who lives in central Illinois and one who lives in Alabama. Both arrived in town last evening, met with the funeral director and scheduled a visitation for tonight and a funeral for tomorrow morning! I now have 25 CWF ladies who are freaking out because they have no time to get together donations for a funeral dinner. Ooooof.
The arrangements have been further complicated by the fact that this dear man's grandson is a Marine who has received permission to come home from Afghanistan for the funeral, but will likely miss the service itself. Hence the son from central Illinois who is the father of the marine asked his brother from Alabama to consider having a separate burial service on Thursday so that the marine could be part of something to honor his grandfather (who was also a Marine and the reason this young man is in the service in the first place). The son from Alabama has reluctantly agreed as he needed to return to Alabama as soon as possible. (It just seems to me that regardless of whether one drives 20 hours to get back to their hometown for their dad's funeral, the inconvenience of that act is trumped by the inconvenience of the person who has to fly in from halfway around the world and get out of a freaking WAR to get here. But that might just be me.)
So, I asked this family to try to schedule the burial anytime but between 1-3 on Thursday, as I have a pretty significant prenatal test that needs to be completed that day to determine whether we will be inducing this weekend. And guess when the burial was scheduled? Bet you can't....

yep -- 1 p.m.

But that's ok because the family had in mind the former pastor of our congregation who lives in the Quad Cities an hour from here. They didn't call him, of course, before arranging all of this and he is, predictably, I think, unavailable for the service. Phone calls to three other pastors have yielded naught in terms of a person able to cover the burial.
After calling my doctor who was willing to arrange for THREE people to come into work an hour earlier on Thursday so that I could have these tests at 7:30 a.m. and thus be done in time to do this burial, I decided to draw my line in the sand. I'm not doing the burial and will be going to my appointment at 1. The funeral director will find a pastor to officiate or I've offered to ask one of the elders in our congregation to do the service which I will prepare for them.
After a lot of phone calls and an equal or greater amount of prayer, I think this is ok. I hope this is ok. I struggle with guilt because I really did love this man who passed away. But on the other hand, I love my children and my husband and myself and I also need to attend to us. A pastor does get to draw some parameters, right?
Geez, I hope so.


revabi said...

What a bind.
I am sorry for the Marine.
And don't say its just like those people in Al. We are not all like that. i'll be thinking of you. Hope the testing goes okay.

more cows than people said...

yes, yes... we need to set parameters. i said a couple hard no's last friday, but it had to be done. glad you're keeping your appointment and trusting God to work it out.

you have posted A LOT since last i visited. you're being added to my bloglines- NOW!

thanks for your comment my way. i'll be regular from now on!

dawn c said...

Did you ask yourself what would the Vicar of Dibley do?! ;)

I say, DRAW AWAY!!!!! (Well done you!)

Psalmist said...

Poor dear! WHY do funeral directors commit pastors to schedules without first ASKING them??? I used to HATE that! I think that comes out of the old myth that the preacher just sits around at the office with nothing to do between Sunday and Sunday, so any time, any day ought to be fine.

And I agree with you about the whole 20 hour drive vs. emergency military leave from a foreign country. So often, a death brings out the best, most cooperative spirit in families...but NOT always!

Good for you, about keeping your appointment. You told folks you couldn't do it at a given time, and they went ahead and scheduled it for that exact time. Funerals ARE important, but the rest of the world does not suddenly cease to exist because of them. You've been through a lot carrying young mister Sir Littler, and you need to take good care of yourself.

So GOOD FOR YOU! I think your line is more than fair.

Oh, and congratulations, Auntie Apey! So glad your niece arrived safely and healthily and that your sister's doing well. Prayers being offered for (as we say down here) "all y'all."

April said...

Thanks, all! The service went well and was an honor to be part of. I love how God seems to take these very human failings on all of our parts in times of need and sets them into the pattern of holiness he is weaving.

And I think Vic Dib would have coped with chocolate. And I'm SOOOOOOO above that strategy! (or not) :)