I have just heard a news report that doesn’t surprise me. Apparently we are running out of space in cemeteries. I have often wondered about that when driving past cemeteries and graveyards. We have a finite amount of space and an increasing need for it.
When I was younger I used to think that cemeteries were creepy places. Most of us tend to avoid them or ignore them because they remind us of our mortality or of loved ones who have died. But I have realised that they are also special places that cherish memories and honour people. They are places of sadness and loss but also provide a touching place with the eternal.
I have had the same experience with funerals. When I was training at the vicar factory aka Spurgeon’s College I dreaded the idea of taking a funeral. I tried not to think about it but when I did I wondered if I would be able to cope with the sadness. I thought that they would be overwhelmingly desperate occasions and did not want to take any.
But when I started in my first church my wonderful colleague, friend, mentor and Senior Minister, David, showed me what a privilege it is to take a funeral service. He explained how the Minister’s role is to be a touching place with the eternal for grieving relatives and friends. He taught me the value of leading a service that enables people to say ‘goodbye’ in a positive way. He helped me to realise that it is one of the most profound services that we are asked to lead – enabling people to grieve and celebrate the life and memory of someone precious.
I hope and pray that I am able to serve people in that way. And I hope and pray that whatever solutions the government come up with about the cemetery space shortage will also have the same outcome.
Be blessed, be a blessing.