The Queen’s Funerals

The first of Queen Elizabeth’s funerals was held in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. I watched the whole service and was grateful I was not officiating. One of the historic ministers of the church was John Knox, leader of the Scottish Reformed Church (Presbyterian.) The service was a simple and traditional Christian funeral with familiar Scriptures and music, and a brief message. The second funeral was in St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The state funeral will be at Westminster Abby in London, then on to Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel for the Committal Service. The Queen regularly attended these churches, and faith played a significant role in her daily life. Her death also marks a new beginning.

The new King Charles and I share the same birthday, but in different years. He has been “next-in-line” for 70 years, becoming the oldest person to ascend to the throne. We have not lived parallel lives.  I’m sometimes asked “How many people have you married?” I have learned not to give the right answer unless I really know the person asking the question. The right answer, of course, is one, but most people seem confused or slightly miffed at that answer. What they are asking is how many weddings have I officiated. That is a harder number to say.  The first wedding I ever performed was for my younger sister, Denise, in June of 1969. She and Bubba were married 36 years until his death in 2005. The hardest were the ones where I was also the father of the bride. With just a general sense of the weddings through the years, I have officiated around 250. Weddings mark a new beginning.

I have a more accurate number of the funerals. The very first funeral, where I was assisting, was in 1966 for an 18-month-old boy. He had gotten behind his 18-year-old uncle’s car. It is still one of the saddest funerals I have ever witnessed. Over the years I have saved notes and materials from most of the services. I have probably misplaced several of the services, but reviewing these notes, I have saved the stories of around 500 people who have touched and shaped my life through the years. 

Weddings and funerals are beginnings and endings. The people involved move from life before the wedding, or funeral, to the beginning of all that lies ahead. Endings and beginnings are rarely easy, no matter how many funerals may be involved.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate it all. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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