Monday, June 18, 2012


I have attended three funeral services led by a particular church Minister. Two were stirring and provocative, the stuff that crushing crusading zeal must have been made of. The most recent service was toned down, it was milder by comparison to the others. There was the exclusion clause that I have come to expect in services; a variation of... you are only a member of the 'in-crowd' and get the esoteric religious benefits, if, you believe as the Minister believes.

 The recent sermon, based on the Twenty-Third Psalm, (King David's Psalm) required a leap of belief, one that I could not muster. I even leafed through the bible placed on the ledge in the pew to try and find anything that might imply the conclusion drawn and delivered by the Minister. To remind you, the Psalm as printed in current British bibles, begins, 'The Lord is my shepherd'.

The interpretation the Minister gave of "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of The Lord, forever", was...

If you, (us, the mourners) believe in Jesus Christ, who is 'The Lord', he will look after you, (us) in life and after death. 

There is a fundamental misinterpretation in my view, and also, another variation of the exclusion clause I mentioned. King David was not contemporary with Christ; his Psalm of praise, if sung at the time of David's own existence would be in a totally different time and religious context.


Vincent said...

Yes, of course - the 23rd Psalm belongs to all of us, to comfort us through its own words and associations, without the dubious benefit of someone else's interpretation.

But I've come across the same thing at weddings too. My nephew (an up-and-coming City lawyer) married into money at a ceremony in a village church whose parishioners are wealthy. the wedding guests were ferried across a picturesque bay for the reception, the whole thing was a magnificent display of opulence. As if to compensate for all this genuflection to Mammon, the vicar delivered a sermon that (for the broad Church of England) put the knife in, made everyone feel like a miserable sinner. This same vicar was sucking up to the newly-weds' family at the reception, filling himself with all the food and drink, smiling on all the excess. The contrast felt unclean but that's the way they do it!

ZACL said...

I understand exactly what you describe; these representatives of the church would even exclude other representatives of their ilk if they did not sport exactly the same kind of halo. These people are not useful exemplars, in my view. The story of the Good Samaritan keeps popping into my mind. Even the Samaritan would not be acceptable to them.

I have seen congregants embarrassed and apologising to visitors for these Ministers' stirring efforts to start religious war.

Your experiences and mine clearly demonstrate what is done, is not 'the way to do it'.