Memorial Service

Today I helped lead a memorial service for a charter member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church.  I really don’t have a lot of experience leading them.  I assisted a bit when I served a church in Atlanta but as the newest Associate Pastor at the church, I never had an opportunity to lead one.

It was the same when I served as a volunteer chaplain at the retirement center in Atlanta.  I assisted in many but led only one.  I remember how difficult it was trying to lead a service for someone I didn’t know well.  After that one, I decided I didn’t want to lead any more and as a volunteer chaplain that was my prerogative although after leading that one, I doubt I would have been asked to lead another!

I haven’t worn my ministerial robe much since living in Atlanta seven years ago and I wore it today.  It’s sort of funny because while I thought the stole was a white one, I wasn’t sure so I checked it out with the Associate Pastor prior to the service.  Here I’ve been ordained for twenty years and I had to ask such a basic question!

It’s an example of one of the difficulties of having a brain injury and not being involved in the mainstream of life.  I know I’m not a “dumb” person but many of the things I do might be considered “dumb.”  For example, I haven’t led or been to a whole lot of traditional Presbyterian memorial services.  This afternoon I sat up in front where the worship leaders sit while the organist was playing the prelude.  The other two pastors came in with the family so they could be seated at the front.

It was a huge family so they filed in a long line up the aisle.  I think the “proper” thing to do is to stand while the family enters but I wasn’t sure so I decided to stand if everyone else stood.  Half-way through their entrance I realized that folks were going to follow my lead and since I didn’t stand, neither did they.  I figured it was sort of silly for me to stand half-way through their entrance so I stayed seated.

Afterward, my worrywart personality took over and I kicked myself for my mistake.  “How could I have been so ignorant” I thought.  I then remembered something my cognitive therapist told me.  It takes a lot of  neuron energy to agonize over something so unimportant and it will wear me out if I spend time doing this.  When I begin to do this, she suggested I just tell myself to stop.  So this is what I did.   And it worked.

Afterwards a family member commented on a story I had told about just sitting in silence with the person and how I think our society depends on words too much. With tears in her eyes she described her experience of doing just that. God did touch someone with my words so all my worrying was for naught.

It really was a moving service even if my worrywart personality got in the way.  I worried about what I planned to say.  I worried about how Mark would tie it all together when he lead the Homily.  I worried that I would get overstimulated.  All that worrying wore me out!  The funny thing is, God was there and it went fine.  Today was a gorgeous fall day so when I returned home, I sat outside with my dog Sparky.  This was the rest my brain needed. 

Hopefully, I’ll stop worrying about things so much.  Since I’m trying to be involved in more  now, I have to stop this or it isn’t going to work.  I’ll end up having to sleep for days after activities like I did when I was in Atlanta if I don’t stop wasting so much brain power.    

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