I was shocked to read Rev Johnston Mackay suggesting that "non-believers" should not recieve a christian funeral
This is based on one experience he had in Ardossan where he is Clerk to the Presbytery, which is kind of secretary to the gathering of ministers and elders who hold power in that area. Apparently he took a funeral where people made noise and didn't pay attention. This, I have to say, is not a new experience. It is simply the reality of folk struggling to cope with grief and death. It is not a reason for the church not offering to service their needs. In fact, it is all the more reason for the church to reach out to serve their needs.
In 7 years in the parish I conducted over 400 funerals, once doing 10 in 7 days and more than once doing 3 in one day. I have seen many folk act in bizarre ways around funerals. Trying to jump in the grave, answer phones in the middle of a service, hanging onto the coffin and refusing to let go, collapsing in the service, laughing out loud at things that weren't funny, drinking cheap fizzy wine at 9 am just to get them through, asking for the wildest of music, getting into fights. I even had a stabbing at the purvey and much more. I know many of my colleagues could tell of even more outlandish happenings
Thats what happens because grief is tough. But the church should not walk away from folk because grief is tough and they are struggling. Its the job of the church to stick with folk at these times, no matter their belief and whether or not those folk would ever darken a church door. Its called sacrificial service and should be the hallmark of the Christian Community.
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