It was a cold, wet and muddy day that reminded me of Seattle. The feeling at the cemetery was somber, but also awkward. I'm a little bit out of sorts about the whole thing, disillusioned and angry. A therapist undoubtedly would tell me to not trouble myself about the entire situation since the only person I can change is myself. This is something I've learned first-hand since I grew up in a family that has seen a great deal of suffering and death. I know that people don't always make good choices, they do crazy things when confronted by tough circumstances, but there is a point when pragmatism comes right up against human decency and sensibility.
As I stood graveside I had a smattering of different feelings.
There were less than 15 people at graveside for the service, including the pastor and the funeral home representatives. As I got out of the car, I was greeted by the pastor who was dressed in a black suit and priest's collar. I knew he wasn't a priest and had reminded myself repeatedly of that. I don't think I've ever addressed a "man of the cloth" before that hasn't been a priest. But, as I shook his hand, I just instinctively said, "Nice to meet you, Fath...." I didn't correct myself, figuring that would just draw more attention to the slip.
As we stood in the slight rain, the pastor started the short service, which began, "In the name of the Father..." Of course, I instinctively blessed myself, as did my husband and son, which caused everyone else to follow suit and they blessed themselves too. I think it jarred the pastor because, as my husband told me years ago and also reminded me shortly after the service, Lutherans (along with most other Protestant groups) do not make the sign of the cross. It was amusing that my husband's family has become so secular that they didn't even know this wasn't a Lutheran thing to do.
As the pastor did the readings and his homily, my mind was wondering why he was standing there graveside. I have a difficult time understanding how a person who has read the bible can be Protestant, especially an educated pastor or minister. Scales on their eyes. As the pastor began his short homily, I found myself disagreeing with so much of what he said. According to him, God, upon her baptism, had claimed my husband's grandmother as His own and He would never leave her, implying that if you are baptized you cannot lose your salvation. Absolutely true about God's fidelity, but only partially complete. The entire Old Testament tells how God repeatedly gave the Israelites another chance and made covenants with them. God was always faithful to the covenants, it was the Israelites that broke the covenants and turned their back on God. Then he went on to say that my husband's grandmother was in Heaven. Not just maybe, or probably, but that she was seeing God face-to-face. Why do we even need the New Testament if Jesus' death, resulting in our subsequent salvation, is the period at the end of the sentence? What more could we possibly add to that?
Martin Luther has given people a way to rationalize bad behavior. Gone are the charitable acts of mercy, like visiting the sick and home bound. Instead, you can bring flowers to the grave and wipe your hands of it. Stand graveside and cry, but never have given the person a second thought when they were alive. My nephews and sister-in-law didn't even attend the service. They had tennis and hockey, to which my mother-in-law replied that she understood. What did she understand? The secular notion that gives people a pass to be self-absorbed? Even if you neglect acts of human kindness you're still going to Heaven, so why trouble yourself.
Hopefully, I will make it to Purgatory one day. I also hope Martin Luther is there just so I can smack him upside the head. The additional time spent in Purgatory would be well worth it. Heck, I might even kick him in the shins too.
I need some serious mid-week input from you...
4 hours ago