Saturday, June 22, 2013

My 1st Methodist Funeral Experience

               I always thought that the first Methodist funeral I attended would be of a sweet old woman name Bethel, my denomination like all mainline denominations is made up of a lot of old people. I love old people; I always have so I have no problem with being in churches surrounded by people with gray hair. I did however have a problem when the first Methodist funeral I attended was for my friend Kim Kaiser who was nowhere near being old; she hadn't even gotten the chance to graduate from college yet.

               For those of you who don’t know me, I wear my emotions like the latest fashion trend, if I am sad I will cry loudly and openly, I feel no guilt or shame in being a person that shows how I feel, but when I got the news last Saturday that my friend Kim was killed in a collision I had no idea how to process the information. I sent out a text to 3 of my closest friends (Ned, Ty, and Bubba). I specifically didn't tell my mother for fear she would give me some Calvinist comfort about how this is all a part of God’s masterplan rubbish. Obviously, predestination brings comfort to some people, but I’m a pupil of John Wesley, my God doesn’t plan on killing 20-somethings in car accidents to bring Himself glory. Of the three friends I texted only one replied, Ned, and Ned went on to give me the exact answer that I didn't want to hear about how God was going to turn this experience into something good. I love Ned, I respect Ned and acknowledge that he is so much smarter than I am it is embarrassing, but I think/know that he is wrong. I don’t think God planned for my friend to die in the seat of her car on the way to pick up her cousin Hailey from a youth retreat, I don’t believe that God planned for her to die before we could go and see “Man of Steel” together, I don’t believe that God wants Hailey to feel overwhelming guilt for Kim’s death, that’s not the God that I know, the God that loves me and speaks to me and tells that I am created in His image.

               Fast-forward to the morning of Friday June 21st, I am in FUMC Denton acting as a greeter; I have yet to break-down emotionally. I directed traffic until I sat with my friends from the Denton Wesley then the slideshows start, and the tears come. I managed to stay relatively stable until her aunt and uncle came forward to tell family stories about her, and then my eyes became waterfalls. Then came Rev. Cammy Gaston and she gave a great sermon about hope, and resurrection, but what was really awesome was the prayer afterwards. The prayer basically told God everything I was thinking, it brought frustrations with the injustice of a 22-year-old dying in a car wreck, yet the trust in God being with us, our very present help in time of trouble. It was healing, and theologically sound, trusting in God yet not an easy answer like “God is in control”, it was what my spirit needed. After the service ended my friends from the Wesley and I wept like babies on one another, then went to the reception to tell stories about Kim to her family, because the family wanted to know how she had blessed us.

Lisa Gungor & myself
               Around 10PM on Friday Gungor’s twitter account mentioned that they would be screening their new DVD and they sent out a blanket invite. I called my friend Aubrey, and we hopped in her car and headed to Covenant Church in Carrolton to see this DVD. My heart was healed once more by the words of Michael Gungor as he talked about the beautiful balance of life and death. He spoke of how billions of new stars are being born, BILLIONS, and how humans are mortal and how we die, but that God isn't done, God is still creating. Then this beautiful chorus rose up “Holy, holy, holy Lord – the earth is yours and singing.” And another song stated “These bones cry out…only you can raise the dead, can lift my head up…” God has lifted my head up, through my friends, through music and impromptu DVD screenings, and through a random clerk at 7-11 giving me a Slurpee for free last night. Were these things predestined for me so that I could be blessed? I doubt it, but I know that they are still from God, the same God that causes the sun to shine on both the just and the unjust, has taken time out of His busy schedule to lift my head up.