What a small box can do

So, I went to conduct the funeral service for the still-born. His name was Ralph. The couple were not members of Mom's church, but had family members that were. Since I didn't know the family at all I went in as a complete outsider. From that perspective, it was a unique experience. Right now I cannot recall something like that where I had no relation, connection or previous exposure to a gathering. That meant I didn't say too much outside of the parts I had in the service and committal.

Of course, it was supposed to start at 9:00 am. No one showed up until 9:15, and we began at 9:25. That was something I had forgotten about. At first I was very annoyed. I've become all things to all people and most recently the people I'm with usually start things on time. My beloved Hispanics, however, tend to have a different time table for things.

All that kind of stuff went out the window as I watched the family enter in the church. The parents were obviously broken. There were family members wearing "in memory" t-shirts with the baby's picture on it. Most people just passed by me with a stare. I was somebody they didn't know brought in to lead them in their family's most difficult time. I wonder if I would have responded any different.

My composure was well until they brought in the coffin; it was about three feet long. That was a difficult moment for me.

The service went as well as it could have--obviously accounting for the circumstance. I rode with the funeral home director to the cemetery. We shared in conversation about several things. It's interesting some of the things that are discussed in those rides sometimes. He mentioned how in other times cemeteries were divided by race--Whites here, Blacks here and Mexicans here--and surprisingly, at least in Pearsall things were still kind of the same in that manner. He also mentioned an incident a few weeks ago at the graveside. Let's just say its kind of the same thing, but with a religious overtone.

Anyways, I completed the service and went home, and promised to never get angry with my kids again. That didn't last as long as I thought it would have. Despite these pains and our confusion and battles in this life, in this broken world God is good. It is the hope that generates from His promises that provides us all the ability to make sense of so much and to bear the rest.

May your day be better, your faith renewed, your spirits brought up and your life be blessed by His presence. Stay blessed...john

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