Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Weekend That Will Be

This weekend is going to be busy. And it will be a weekend that will bring bittersweet feelings as we move from one event to the next.

On Saturday, I will be officiating a funeral. You may or may not remember something that I wrote way back in May about a wedding that I officiated. The bride had been undergoing treatments for lung cancer, and there had been no license involved that day so that the groom wouldn't have to deal with insurance issues later on. I can remember the look on her face that day when she'd seen Coffeeson for the first time...she'd teared up, she was so overjoyed to finally meet him.

A few weeks ago, things took a turn for the worst. A hospital bed had been moved into her house, and she pretty well had been relegated to it. I visited her last week, and even though she'd been so worn out that she frequently dozed off, she'd been happy to see me. I was content to sit on a chair at the end of her bed, her dog resting its head on my lap while the rest of its body sprawled out next to hers.

When I finally stood to take my leave, I read her a verse from Romans 8: "I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." It was the best that I could come up with...some passage about heavenly rewards or resurrection seemed too...I don't know the word I'm looking for. "Easy," perhaps. It's sometimes easy to talk about the life to come in the face of pain and uncertainty...too easy, I might say. So to read something about God's love being inseparable from her no matter what seemed a slightly better alternative.

She also requested a picture of Coffeeson the next time I came. I told her that I would make sure to find a good one. Now, I won't be able to. All of 34 years old, she died on Friday morning. By far, it will be the youngest person for whom I've officiated, and probably one of the most emotional for me, too.

And then on Sunday, Coffeeson will be baptized. There will be about 40 extra people in worship that morning, as both of our families and a few friends descend upon this little church on the hill. A good seminary friend will travel out to officiate, but I still have...uh...get to preach.

Let me tell you a few things about the prospect of preaching to such a large familiar group.

First, the denominational makeup of this group is something to note: UCC, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Roman Catholic, Missouri Synod Lutheran, Evangelical, and Barely Interested. There will be two other UCC pastors besides me and a UCC youth worker, and a Campus Crusade staffperson.

The more daunting thing for me personally is that I know them so well. Friends and family have come to hear me preach before, but they haven't all been here at once like this.

It's also supposed to rain. We were planning on playing that New Ohio Pastime known as cornhole, and cooking out. I guess we'll just have to organize the most amazingly-sized game of Catchphrase instead.

Like I said...quite a weekend lined up. There'll also be the Utah game, which I suppose I'll have to sneak away to update myself on. Or maybe I won't want to. I suppose I'll know by halftime.


Remus said...

I like how you use "organised" in the same sentence as "Catchphrase." This is gonna be intense.

Gene said...

I saw you changed your banner, way to get in the spirit! It's been an awfully long offseason in the Husker state, I'm sure it's the same with UMICH fans.

Jeff Nelson said...

Not just a long offseason, but a long four years or so. Especially as a U-M fan living in That State Down South.

Anonymous said...

I think you should put a picture of Coffeeson in her casket. I think it would be a nice gesture.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the funeral you'll be officiating. That is one (of many) aspects of your job I would be absolutely horrible at, but the people that can do it well are invaluable....I think you're probably one of those people. On a lighter note, best wishes for the baptism on Sunday, sorry that girl and I couldn't make it!

-That guy from Chicago

Don Niederfrank said...

What a privilege this call is, to be asked to be as compassionate, intelligent, hard-working and faithful to Christ as you can be.

And in a quarter century you will be so glad to retire!

Hey, where are the pictures on this blog?