Within the first year that I came to Central Baptist Church, I was invited to do a funeral service for a non-member of the church. (About half of the funeral services I perform are for people who are not connected to the church). I was scheduled for a service at 11:30 AM. As I approached the funeral parlor I saw that the hearse was pulling out of the driveway accompanied by a long entourage. I panicked. I started to sweat and feel embarrassed. I almost wanted to run home without going inside. I decided to go in and apologize. The funeral director welcomed me and then I observed that there were three funeral services scheduled for that day. I was preaching at number two and I was early.
Now it would be good if that was my worst mistake. However, a few years later, I had to do a site service and I wrote it on my calendar, but on the wrong day. By the time I was found (visiting a parishioner), the funeral director felt that he had waited too long and did the service himself.
Sometimes mistakes are made at weddings. One of the reasons for doing wedding rehearsals is to make sure that the wedding is running as the bride and the groom wish it to go. This gives an opportunity for people to make suggestions on rehearsal night and then avoid interference on the wedding day. One wedding’s processional seemed to falter from the beginning. I quickly found out that the reason for the rearrangement in the order down the aisle was that the limo driver took over. The biggest fear of every pastor is confusing names, especially if they do more than one wedding on that particular day. That is the reason why many pastors read the wedding service even though they have done it so many times.
On other occasions, the mistakes are made by certain verses referenced by a pastor. The proverbial one is the verse that a pastor wrote to a couple recently returned from their honeymoon. He meant to write 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” The only problem was that he left out the Roman numeral in front of John. The new bridegroom volunteered to read John 4:18 to his wife, which says, “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have, is not your husband.” There was some explanation to be given simply because of a number that was left out.
I have found out that God’s people are gracious and forgiving about mistakes made publicly at funerals, weddings, and graduations. They forgive because they know that we should forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. Yet, I must confess that from time to time I hear that sad comment, “I will never forgive so and so for what they did on my special day. They ruined my day!”
Public figures make public mistakes and, when we make those mistakes, we need to apologize immediately in the hope that we will find public forgiveness from the individuals who we have faulted.