It is a truth universally acknowledged (although not necessarily a biblical one) that whenever two or three clergy are gathered together, they shall tell funny funeral stories. Here is my favourite, and it really did happen.
I was taking a big British legion-type funeral at the crematorium, and as usual I had been briefed by the gang of old soldiers as to what I had to do. Just before the commendation they would line up with their colours, which they would then dip; a bugler would play the Last Post, the colours would be raised again, and I could proceed to the committal. What could possibly go wrong?
Then, just before the service was due to start, we received tragic news: the bugler had gone down with flu and wouldn’t be able to play. However, calamity was averted, as at the eleventh hour they had managed to get hold of a cassette (this was a few years ago) with a recording of the Last Post. This was given to the crem attendant, and the service proceeded smoothly, until we got to the end. The colours were dipped, and we waited in silence for the bugle to begin. We waited … and we waited … and waited … and waited … Finally I decided that enough was enough, indicated that the colours should be raised, and said the words of committal.
After the service the crem attendant came up to me with a very red face. ‘I’m sorry about the music!’ he said, with great and obviously genuine contrition.
‘What went wrong?’ I asked. ‘Did they give you a blank tape or something?’
‘No’ he confessed. ‘The tape was fine: I just piped it through to the wrong chapel.’
A couple of weeks later I was at our clergy chapter meeting, and true to form our Area Dean (the kind of leading priest in the area) began to tell a funny funeral story.
‘You’ll never guess what happened to me at the crem. I was just reading that passage from 1 Corinthians, about the trumpet sounding and the dead being raised, when out of nowhere this great trumpet began to play the Last Post!’
I had to own up.
Coming next week: a new feature on #fridayfun. Steve’s Random Icebreakers.
Run a Homegroup, Youth group or something? Fed up with the usual boring questions to get people going at the start of the evening? Then this selection of random icebreakers from my son’s ministry in Bournemouth might just give you some fresh inspiration. Look out for #stevesrandomicebreakers from next Friday.
Finding myself with a bit of time on my hands I’m happy to receive enquiries about speaking engagements, preaching, church weekends, conferences or whatever. Please get in touch via Twitter @revjohnleach