I was recently asked to join the lovely Emily Jeffery of BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey on her Sunday Breakfast radio programme, reviewing the papers and giving a ’60 second sermon’.
Now, I review papers and chat quite regularly on Allison Ferns’ afternoon show on the same station, so I was quite comfortable doing that. But the 60 second sermon? That was new to me.
‘I know’, I thought, ‘I’ll listen in to what other people have done for theirs to give me a feel for it.’ Sensible, eh?
Fast forward about an hour and I’d listened to wisdom from the sermon-givers of many previous weeks. Silly really, because when I was coaching people about writing for their websites, one of the very first things I told them absolutely not to do was to read other people’s sites before they began.
So, as my old self would have predicted, I sat there, paralysed in the bright light of other people’s wisdom and creativity. My inner doubt gremlin was further fed by the fact that most of them had been rabbis, imams, archdeacons and the like. Not, in short, the ramblings of an independent celebrant.
Emily was wonderful and reassured me that she valued a range of backgrounds and voices on her show, and so I found myself getting up at an unholy hour on a Sunday morning to go to the Brighton studio, look through the papers, have a chat about what celebrants do and give a sermon on the radio.
And it was a lot of fun in the end!
You can listen to our conversation here:
My ‘thought for the day’ 60 second sermon:
When conducting a funeral, my priority is that the whole ceremony – not just the eulogy – truly reflects the person who has passed away. Their personality, their beliefs, their interests and their history. One of the first steps towards this is to create a mind map of everything that their loved ones have told me during our meeting together.
I end up filling a side of A4 with information about the person’s life, which may include big things like their relationships and their career for example, as well as anecdotes, little things they always said or their funny habits.
To have the summary of someone’s life on one side of A4 is a truly humbling experience, however long they have lived. And it’s certainly something that I find puts my own life into perspective – it’s amazing how quick the journey is from stressed to thankful.
So today I’d like to invite you to think about what you would like written on YOUR side of A4 when your time comes (hopefully many years into the future). What will it say about who you have been, what you have done and what you’ve stood for?
And, once you have an idea of what you would like your side of A4 to say, compare it to how you’re living your life right now – today, this week, this year so far.
Life is precious and short, as the Shoreham victims’ families* – and anyone else who has experienced a bereavement – will tell you. Don’t wait to become who you really are.
* It was the first anniversary of the Shoreham Airshow crash, hence this reference.