I Don’t Feel That Funny

One of my favorite television shows is, or was, Modern Family. It makes me laugh, and that’s especially important on Wednesday evenings when I return home after a church meeting.

Last night, though, I may have come to the end of my love of Modern Family. It was “Part 2” of the big Mitch and Cam wedding– the event we’ve all been waiting for. Like most of America, I was wondering what kind of ridiculousness, along with a bit of sentimentality, would accompany the big day.

I got a little nervous last week,  during “Part 1,” when we learned that Mitch and Cam’s old friend, Sal, played by Elizabeth Banks, would be officiating at the wedding. Granted, they didn’t exactly ask her. She just stepped in, thinking that they were about to ask her. Never mind that she appeared to be about ten months pregnant.

So often these days, it feels like the officiant of television and movie weddings is a clownish figure. Perhaps we can blame The Princess Bride for that. But, when we’ve encountered Sal in the past, she’s been the hard-drinking, promiscuous, fun-loving former close buddy of Mitch and Cam, reminding them of their rowdier youth before they settled down and adopted a daughter.  So, it was bad enough that she was officiating at Mitch and Cam’s wedding.  But, then it just got worse.

Of course, Sal went into labor just as the first attempt at a wedding service was getting underway (there were about four attempts to get the job done).  And, this is where my heart just sank, because who came to the rescue?  There was the goofy but lovable, Phil Dunphy, ready to jump in to save the day, finally able to use his recently purchased “ordination,” purchased for $35.00 on the internet.

Really?  Is my vocation and my profession really just a big joke?  Do pastors really make such a good punchline?

Would we find it just as funny if there was the need for a physician, who had purchased her or his license online?

I realize that Modern Family is trying to be humorous, but I’m tired of pastors serving as the go-to punchline.  I’m frustrated that ordination is cast as no harder than clicking a button and submitting a small payment.

Some of us take ordination very seriously.  We also take marriage very seriously.  Yes, there is humor, and sometimes we are the ones being funny, whether that’s our intention or not.  But, properly trained and educated pastors are not cartoonish, nor are the rites we perform ridiculous.

Pastors help us navigate some of the most profound moments of our lives, from baptisms and naming ceremonies at the start, to weddings somewhere in the middle, to dying, death, and funerals at the end.  Sometimes, we don’t do the job well.  But, most of the time, I would hazard a guess, we do.  We help bring language and ritual, sacredness and holiness, to life’s most profound moments.

Could we get a little respect, please?

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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