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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Comedy of Errors (not about the play) (08/18/11)

TITLE: The Last Laugh
By J Soriano


Funerals. Who looks forward to them? For me, conducting funeral services for the dearly departed was not something that necessarily excited me; especially if I didn’t know the person while they were living. Yet as a local Christian minister I was often called upon in the community to do just that. What was I to do? Deny a grieving family their request at such a volatile time? I couldn’t.

A member of my congregation had such a request. His grandmother passed away and although she, as well as the rest of his family were members of another church, they wanted me to officiate “Granny’s” final services. I knew nothing of her. I’ve never met her or the other family members, just the grandson who put in the request.

A week before the scheduled event I had a chance to meet his aunt; the woman in charge. I gingerly tried to persuade her to seek their home church Pastor to do the service. After all, he was thoroughly familiar with them and in my opinion, would be more personable. My attempts proved unfruitful. I was to be the one. That was the only time I’ve seen or met any other family member.

Leading up to the service I gathered as much information as I could from the only source I knew; the grandson in my congregation.

On the day of the funeral I was caught up in traffic and made it to the mortuary 20 minutes before the service was to begin. Rushing out of my car, I proceeded to the chapel. I looked for a familiar face and found none. The crowd was abundant with family and friends inside and out. I decided to seek out the funeral director. I introduced myself and informed him that I would be officiating today. He replied, “Oh good you’re here. I’ll be right back with the necessary paperwork.”

Having nothing else to do, and having many strange eyes upon me, I proceeded to the front to pay my respects. There was one family member there silently weeping. Although I didn’t know him, I wrapped both my hands around his, gave a gentle squeeze, and offered my condolences. I then approached the coffin. “So this is Granny.” It was the first-time I’ve seen her. She had exceptionally long hair. Perhaps I could reference it in my remarks. I stood alone and said a silent prayer. I then left the casket and waited for the funeral director to return. A few people came and asked if I was the minister and then thanked me for being there.

It’s now 10 minutes before we start. The pews were being filled. I anxiously wondered where the funeral director was. I soon caught a glimpse of him speaking to a group of people who are staring my way. He walks over and politely asks me again who I was and my purpose for being there. I hastily gave him the information while trying to remain patient. He then informs me that I was at the wrong funeral! Granny’s viewing is at chapel #2.

I am now red with sweat beads dripping down my face. As I dash out to the right funeral, my cell phone rings. It’s Granny’s grandson, “Pastor, everyone is being seated and we’re almost ready to begin. Do you need more time in prayer?!“

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This article has been read 240 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Author Unknown08/25/11
I was glad it wasn't a surprise, granny's not dead story- I was a little worried :).

It's a cute story. And it rings true. My dad is a pastor and has been called upon for some strange funerals.

It's a good story- not too much backstory, gets right into the heart of the story.

The only thing I'd caution you on- the red ink stuff- is the filtering- which means instead of seeing things first hand through your character's eyes, we're one more step removed because we have a narrator. If you pull us in a little tighter, then it livens up the story a little (which sounds like a pun for a funeral story, sorry).

It's another way to Show vs. Tell. And you should know, it's something I struggle with. (Probably evident in my current challenge entry, too.)

Good work. (thumbs-up)
James Robbins08/25/11
It is very difficult to show or tell such a multi-layered story in 750 words.

I'd love to read it again in a longer version to see how you would develop the characters - even your own.

Fun story.
Janice Fitzpatrick08/25/11
Ha! This is great and I could see how embarrassing it would be. At least the minister didn't begin talking about the wrong person-that would have even been more embarrassing.:) Nice job! Being a people person it's hard for me to red ink in my comments but I wold say I agree with the previous comments. I'm learning myself how to show and not tell as much-although it depends on the type of story one is writing too. Blessings!
Jenna Dawn08/25/11
Nice story. I started to wonder if the minister was at the wrong funeral just a little bit before he figured it out. And when the thought came to mind mind, my eyes grew big and I thought, "Oh no!"

I've been involved in several funerals, having sung at many. And my dad is a pastor, so I relate on that level as well. I could easily put myself in the MC's position of being in the middle of all these strangers and not feeling very confident about officiating for something you've never met.

You switched from past tense to present a couple of times, so be careful about that. It did seem like it could have be a little livelier and with more showing, as others mentioned. Maybe more dialogue.

However, it was a nice story and I enjoyed it.
C D Swanson 08/26/11
I thought this story was right on "target for the topic" at hand...Certainly, a comedy of errors, as the Pastor made his "mad dash into the night" after discovering the error!

I was pulled into the story, and perhaps I am a "strange person,"( I have been called worse LOL)- but I never seem to notice the past tense, or first person stuff, I simply enjoy the story.

Sort of like when a person is speaking in a "one to one" conversation... it is "natural," as if the reader and the author are having a conversation.

Nice job! I enjoyed it. Keep writing, and may God Bless you always~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/27/11
This is a great story and I love the title.

I did notice you switched tense. You were using present then slipped into past and back into present again.

I loved the MC. He seemed very real to me and I chuckled throughout. Nice job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/07/11
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level 1!