Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

May 13, 2009

Worst Funeral Ever?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Janice @ 11:56 pm

(This typeface is different because I wrote this and then pasted it in, rather than writing it here where it MAKES me use their typeface. Better? Worse?)

I went to a funeral last weekend. The brother of our best man died. I didn’t know him well, but he sounds like a wonderful man and a good friend. He had been in a car accident at the age of 19 and had been a quadriplegic for 34 years, but he beat the odds and was able to drive a car, take care of himself, and live a full life until cancer took him at 52.


I have been to a lot of funerals in my life. I believe I go to more funerals than the average person. I’ve been to some bad funerals. But this, sadly, will go down in my mind as the worst funeral I’ve ever been to.

Not the first part of it, though. An Irish priest from the hospital was the “master of ceremonies” and had been Russ’s chaplain at the hospital and I realized that this was the same chaplain that had been there for my dad two years ago. I had never met him, but Mackie and mother had talked about the cute Irish priest. After the service, I thought, I will go introduce myself and thank him for ministering to my dad.


Mark’s best friend and best man, Les, eulogized his brother Russ and did a beautiful job. Many other friends and loved ones and a nurse from the hospital all got up to say great things about Russ. The four other “boys” that had been with Russ the night of his accident and had all also been injured were there and one spoke about their lifelong friendship. I got a good feel for the kind of man Russ was.


When all the stories had been told in 45 minutes or so, the priest asked Les in an aside if he could have about five minutes to wrap things up. Certainly, said Les. The little Irish priest then proceeded to preach for 45 minutes. And it was the most disjointed, unrelatable, all-over-the-map, sermon I have ever heard in my life. He quoted songs, he quoted scripture, he told anecdotes, he warned us not to have regrets and then quickly backed up and said, “I’m not saying Russ had regrets, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t have regrets…” He told stories of his life, stories of his ministry, stories that made him look important, or that’s what it seemed to be trying to convey. He told us to send cards to Russ’s parents. He told us to bring food by and visit Russ’s parents. He told us to be kind to dogs (maybe I hallucinated that part, I was drifting in and out by now). I was not just bored with this sermon, I was angry. Angry that he would take this platform and preach to a captive audience. When he started talking about the rapture and Jesus coming again, I wanted to jump to my feet and shout, “Jesus, come take me now!!” And when he started to talk about the end of time and how the establishment of a state of Israel is a sign of end times, I was close to walking out the door.


He said, “Finally…” and “In closing…” a couple of times before he ever got near a conclusion, because something else would pop in his head and it had to come out. Finally, well, still not finally, he said a long prayer. Surely, it was almost over. No, he went on from there. And then, THEN, he said thank you for coming and ended… and stepped around from the microphone and talked some more. Meanwhile, thunder and lightning were crackling all around and I was praying for an electricity failure to put a stop to this or even for a tornado to take the roof off the place. Anything to make it stop.


When he did stop, I jumped up and got to the lobby in record time. Mark and his mother were close behind, but I believe they got caught a little in the stampede of everyone else that was breaking free and trying to escape. I certainly did not, at this point, want to go introduce myself to the priest; I might have been there all evening, too.


I know the priest had the best of intentions. I expect he doesn’t get to preach very often and didn’t quite know what to do with the opportunity. But now I am worrying about all the sick people that he may be subjecting to long captive sermons each and every day at that hospital. At least they have a “nurse call” button they can use, hopefully, to end it.

1 Comment »

  1. I think that’s what you call egomania, sorry folks. My Dad is a retired minister and he still does a lot of funerals, he talks for maybe 10-12 minutes. To the point, comfort the family and friends, read a poem or two. He’s told me that’s no time for a preacher to go on and on.

    Comment by Richard — May 14, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

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