I have just taken a really poignant funeral for a family I have known for a while. One of those privileges that only comes along every once in a while. I got thinking on the way back in the car about funerals in general. This is meant to be a serious question, and not something to do with the family I was just working with. It is not meant to be flippant or disrespectful either.
I work hard at each and every funeral I take. I try to strike the right balance between the liturgical need (the various elements of the service which need to be addressed) and the families' emotional needs, and between the various requests for things in the service (poems or music etc) and trying to ensure that what is said or expressed has a suitability and dignity to it. I don't mind that - its part of the job.
In all the funerals I have done I think I could count the number of people on one hand for whom the funeral service or the care shown afterwards allowed them to feel comfortable to come to Church on a Sunday more than once. Generally, I would say, this has been something to do with people re-finding an earlier faith. They are more than welcome.
But I meet a lot of people for whom the "Church funeral" means that they do not come to Church. Sure, for one or two this is down to something the Vicar said or didn't let them do, but there are a huge number of people I come across for whom the memory of a particular person's funeral creates for them a barrier to coming regularly.
I am not so naive that I imagine many would come to Church because of the way I did a funeral, but it would be nice to be able to think that by hosting a service in Church we are not creating an emotional barrier to people coming back.
I don't know. What do you think?