Tag Archives: funeral

Glesga Funeral Fight


…….. and all because the organist played the tune “Orlington” to accompany the 23rd Psalm, instead of “Crimond” as had been requested.

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There were two funerals close together. They finished at the same time. One funeral released doves. The other funeral had a salute with several guns.  You can guess what happened…..


A Trinidadian minister writes:

The sister of deceased asked to have the casket reopened after the funeral service and before the burial. I assume for additional grieving. She bends over the deceased for a long while and comes up with…a bra! She said, ”No one should have to sped eternity in a bra.”


A Rod Stewart fan’s wife, Margaret – known as “Maggie” – passed away. It was the obvious choice for music at her funeral: Rod the Mod’s famous song, “Maggie Mae”  Unfortunately, towards the end of the song there are the words, “Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face”  oops!




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The Traffic Warden’s Funeral

As the coffin was being lowered into the grave at a traffic warden’s funeral, a voice from inside the casket could be heard – Screaming at the top of his voice, the “dead” traffic warden shouted “I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m not dead!! Let me out!  Please let me out!”

The Minister smiled, leaned forward, and expressionlessly muttered, “Too late, pal, I’ve already done the paperwork”

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Bean and Gone

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One Lewis congregation gets even smaller – Lesley Riddoch’s Blog (12 March 2015)







Angus and elma


By Lesley Riddoch

A month ago I wrote about the sad death of Angus Morrison from Valtos on Uig. I first met tall, softly-spoken Angus Kenneth (to use his Sunday name) and his twinkling wife Elma in 2007, when Maxwell MacLeod and I stayed at their B&B on the lovely, remote west coast of Lewis near the border with Harris. We were recording material for a Radio Scotland programme, On the Bike and later I wrote a book about the experience, Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides. Max and I planned to stay for just one night but eventually stayed for three — such was the warmth, humour and support offered by the Morrisons to their noisy, demanding guests. I went back to stay with the couple several times in the years that followed – hauling initially doubtful family members to share the delights of long walks and swims on nearby Uig beach, the Gala Day and a ceilidh at the local hall. Most of all I loved the Morrisons’ insatiable appetite for stories. No matter what time of day and night, Angus and Elma lit up at the prospect of hearing well-told yarns about the day past and had a fount of stories about their own long lives on the Western Isles. Angus died suddenly in Raigmore Hospital on February 1st after complications following surgery. He was 70. That was shocking enough for Elma and their children Christina, Angus , Donald Calum and Cathie Margaret who were all with Angus during the final days at Raigmore. But more unexpected difficulties lay ahead.

Once home, Elma contacted an elder at her church – the Free Presbyterian Church at Miavaig, Uig — to arrange the funeral. Elma had been an adherent for 47 years (attending church but not taking communion) – Angus for 70. The Church currently has no minister – there are only two Ministers covering four Free Presbyterian congregations on Lewis. So Elma asked if Angus’ cousin and retired Church of Scotland Minister, Rev Willie Macleod from Barvas could conduct the funeral. The couple had agreed that if Rev Macleod was alive when either of them passed on, Willie would be the man to officiate. He had known four generations of Angus’ family. Indeed, Willie remembered meeting Angus’ great grandmother when he was just a lad of five. Anyway, the elder said the Rev Macleod would be made welcome and Elma relaxed. But later that evening Reverend Allan MacColl from Ness called – Uig’s interim moderator. His message was abrupt. He was sorry but couldn’t allow the family to use a Church of Scotland minister to preach. Elma explained the family connection and the agreement between the couple and said the Rev MacLeod was “a gracious, godly man” Allan would doubtless enjoy meeting. The Minister replied that the Free Presbyterian church couldn’t allow a Church of Scotland Minister to preach on their premises because of the Kirk’s support for gays and lesbians. Elma pointed out the funeral was a private family affair and that the church was – after all — only bricks and mortar. The Rev MacColl held firm. He asked if Elma would still come to hear him preach. Elma replied; “You’ll never see me again inside a Free Presbyterian Church” to which the Reverend said, “You will come and listen.” She hung up.
Elma’s next call was to the local Church of Scotland who told her she was welcome to use their church. So Angus’ funeral was finally held in Uigean Church of Scotland, Miavaig on February 6th with the church full to overflowing. Elma reckons there were almost 300 people present including the twelve-strong congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church. The turnout wasn’t surprising since Angus was well known in fishing circles across the islands as part-owner and skipper of the “Sovereign.” It was by all accounts a marvellous, knowing and intimate service led by Rev Willie Macleod. The night before, another long-standing family friend and Free Church Minister — Rev Kenny I. Macleod from Stornoway – led prayers at the wake. It was also held in the Miavaig Kirk. None of the Ministers or elders from the Free Presbyterian Church has since been in touch — in stark contrast to Elma’s neighbours, friends, family – and new congregation members at the Church of Scotland.

I knew nothing about all this until I went up to visit Elma in Uig last week. You’d think a grieving widow might want to avoid any further friction – instead Elma wants other islanders to know how the Free Presbyterian Church handled the worst hours of her life. She told me; “I went to church twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays — health permitting. I looked after the building for the past 12 years. I did the hoovering, dusting and cleaning – and that was all fine. But this – is just a slap in the face. No Christian names are used at a Free Presbyterian funeral. Angus would have been called ‘the deceased’ throughout — and I’d be ‘the widow.’ There’s no warmth, no compassion in their services.”

It seems Free Presbyterian numbers on Lewis have been dwindling since the former Lord Advocate, Lord Mackay of Clashfern was suspended as an elder for attending the Roman Catholic funeral masses of fellow judges. But Elma has been torn between competing loyalties even more harshly. She has lost a wonderful husband and life partner. Did Elma have to lose her church too?

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A tale of two suits (via “Tickl’d)


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January 3, 2015 · 11:05

Torn and Restored

extract from “Huffpost”
When a friend and fellow mortician died a decade ago, Teddy Lee received an unusual request. By most measures, the widow said, it was to be a standard Christian service, complete with prayers and promises of life after death. Except for one thing.

Would Lee, asked the widow, put on a little show?

Lee, who is also a magician, gladly obliged. On the day of the service, he stood in front of the mourners gathered in a Bronx sanctuary, held up a few pages of the New York Daily News, and then tore them methodically into pieces as he told a story of life and death.

“God breathes life into your body, and then you go through complications over the last years and last days,” he said.

“Lawrence’s lymphatic system broke down.” Rip. “His cardiovascular system broke down.” Rip. “His brain broke down.” Rip. “He died.” Rip.

“But the Lord restores his soul,” Lee said, paraphrasing Psalm 23:3. “He’ll guide him along the right paths.” Lee clenched the scraps of paper in one fist. Then, he opened his hand and unfolded that same newspaper restored to its original pristine form.

It was “Torn and Restored,” a classic beginner’s magic trick done in countless talent shows and festivals — repurposed for death.

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Life after Death

Life after Death

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June 22, 2014 · 09:45

Trumpets in the Morning

Lawrence Lipton’s poem Trumpets in the Morning leans on the Jewish legend that the Satan misses something of life in heaven. Reb Yussel heads for the synagogue as usual but on this occasion the unusual happened. His shadow ran ahead of him up the steps, shows itself on the wall and then turns into a majestic prince with garments to match and an offer of much knowledge—even knowledge of the future. Reb knows it is the proud Satan who was banished after a failed coup against God—so they say—but he treats him with respect. Yussel doesn’t want to know about the future; instead he asks the proud one who has so much knowledge:

What is it you miss more than all else

Of heaven’s bliss?

The Satan pondered long.

Bowed down his head, then sighed and said:

“Trumpets in the morning,” and then was gone.



Sir Winston Churchill arranged his own funeral, so certain was he of the eternal dimension to life.

At his own direction, the great hymns of the Church were played and the beautiful liturgy of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer used……

….. and then, and Churchill had planned this too: a lone bugler, located at the very top of the dome of St.Paul’s, began to play “taps”: the international signal for the ending of the day.

As the last note floated over the congregation, another bugler – also at Churchill’s direction – located directly across from the first bugler – began to play Reveille.

That’s Easter – God’s triumphal trumpet blasting out the stirring strains of new life – life lived in Resurrection glory – here and hereafter!
















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Fred Phelps: Let’s Picket His Funeral…With Love (from “The Gay Christian”) by Brandon Wallace


Fred Phelps, organizer and leader of the hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church, is reported on his death bed at the moment. It is news that is quickly spreading throughout social media, with flagrant tweets and Facebook statuses that are somewhat amusing, yet slightly disheartening.

Let me begin by saying that I am, obviously, not a fan of Fred Phelps nor the WBC. I believe they are vile, bitter, and downright dangerously cultish. They have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

However, it is moments like this that I have to re-evaluate where I stand, theologically. You see, I believe Christ has grace for people like Fred Phelps as much as he has grace for me. Even though I’m not quite sure I believe in a literal hell of eternal burning, I do believe there is a hell that we put ourselves into, even after death, until we can break free of certain chains and mentalities (racism, sexism, homophobia) that keep us in injustice – and I hope that Phelps does not stay there long. I wish hell upon no one, because I want all souls to encounter the true love that God has to offer.


As I read some of the tweets, I realize that we are not going to get anywhere as a society until we begin to truly return hate with love. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so famously put it: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” There are many people calling for picketing of Phelps funeral, as it is Phelps himself that became famous when he picketed the funeral of Matthew Sheppard in 1998, and has been picketing funerals ever since. But how would this help things at all? It would only be a small, self-serving act of vengeance that would only continue to raise the hate level of those that are still in attendance at WBC.

One fact I found quite interesting is that Nate Phelps, Fred’s son that left the church many years ago and is now an LGBT advocate, said that Fred was “excommunicated in August of 2013.” Why was Fred excommunicated? At this point we can only speculate, as the WBC has not released this information at all. One can only hope that Fred woke up one morning and said, “Wait a second…I was wrong.” While this is quite a stretch of the imagination, it is not entirely impossible. Maybe he was actuallyreading Scripture one day, and realized he was on the wrong side. I like to think that he was flipping through John and ran across the verse in Chapter 13 that says, “Your love for one another will prove that you are my disciples.” Then, as he read it, he thought, “Oh, crap!”

But nonetheless, the fact is, Fred was kicked out for some unknown reason, and is now lying on his deathbed, with no one around him. He is dying alone, facing the consequences of decades of hate. I only pray that as he embarks on eternity, he is able to let go of the hate and bigotry that has kept him tied down for so long. I pray that he is able to let go, not only of the hate and bigotry, but of the things that ultimately led him there in the first place. Why did he hate homosexuals so much? Only Fred probably knows that. I hope he is able to let go of that, too.

My final prayer is that people do show up to his funeral as a show of pageantry. I hope they show up with large, decorated signs and billboards. I hope they line the streets leading to the funeral home, and I hope that they make sure they are seen. Finally, I hope every one of those billboards and signs read, “We forgive you.”

Maybe that little sign of love will do something to the remaining members of WBC, and show them that a life filled with hate is really no life at all, but that a life filled with love is the only way to live. I strongly believe that true Christianity – and what I mean by that is simply people following Christ in doing exactly what Christ wanted us to do – is simply having love for everyone, even your enemies, and fighting for justice throughout the world (1 John 3:23, Micah 6:8, John 13:35).

So, Fred, may you be released from the bondage of hate and bigotry, and may God prepare your heart and soul for eternity. Maybe one day in the ever after, I can look you in the eyes and say this to you face-to-face: I forgive you. May you also be able to forgive yourself.



George Takei: “I take no solace or joy in this man’s passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding “God Hates Freds” signs, tempting as it may be.
He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.”

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