While I was at it, since more and more women I know are going back to wearing a head covering during church services, I made my funeral home church one that at least takes a stab at reintroducing the practice. Following is an excerpt from Decidedly Not Official pulled out specifically for my friends in the head covering resurgence. It's very much a side issue as far as the book's main story is concerned, but it was fun to weave it into the tale. (And, yes, for what it's worth, I wear a head covering.)
"When they got to the funeral home, they were pleasantly surprised to see the mix of people going in. It was, as Emma might describe it, the sort of gathering that could only be explained by Jesus. Old, young, well off, poor, tidy, sloppy, athletic, ill, variable ancestry; nothing to explain why that group would get together voluntarily unless they all loved Jesus, or were in the loving tow of somebody who loved Jesus. Richard finally dared to relax a bit. Churches like this were rare, but he'd liked most of them that he'd been to that were like this.
Durand's sports car wasn't in evidence. Neither was Jake's pickup. Emma, however, was ready to go in, so Richard swallowed what little nervousness was encouraging him to stay in the car, and hopped out to open her door and offer his arm.
Several people greeted them with waves or hellos even before they got inside, where they were welcomed warmly by still more people, but without that 'ooh, strangers!' overload that Richard hated but which had become all too popular in churches, at least to his knowledge.
When the pastor came to greet them, Emma said, "We're from out of town. Jake and Amber Halliday recommended this church to us while we were here."
"Oh, Jake and Amber. I wish they didn't live so far out. It makes it hard. But… oh, here they are!"
Points to Emma, Richard thought, for determining beyond all doubt that the pastor knows them, and likes to see them come in his door.
Before they could get all the greetings done with Jake and Amber, Durand walked in. With laser precision, he immediately determined who was pastor – a neat trick since the pastor was dressed neatly but in non-clerical garb, nearly a match of Richard's costume, in fact – and zoomed in on him.
"Hello, you are the minister, perhaps?" he said.
The pastor admitted to being the pastor.
"Ah, I am pleased to meet you, but we must clear something up. I am Catholic, so if you are communing today, I must politely decline. I do not wish for you to be offended, or to worry that I am suffering from unrepentant sin when I discreetly do not participate, but it is merely a matter of policy," Durand said, with no animosity, but with a not entirely invisible shield up.
The pastor didn't look the least daunted, which Richard put down in his favor.
"We observe the Lord's Supper every week," he said.
"Commendable. I commend you. Most Protestant churches do not. It is refreshing to find one which does," Durand said.
"And our rules, which I was just going to explain to these other first time visitors when you came in, and which I will review right before communion, are that we take communion very seriously around here. Our table is open to anyone who is a baptized believer, who is not holding onto persistent sin or under church discipline, and who recognizes that this is more than simply a symbol or a ceremony. We don't explain it the same way the Roman Catholic church does, but I assure you we don't think it's just a memory tool. The Bible has warnings about participating when you shouldn't, and we heed those warnings. Also, all women must cover their head during that portion of the service if they want to take communion. I can show you the Bible basis for that, if you like," he said, switching his focus to Emma.
"First Corinthians. Eleventh chapter. I'm good. I might even have a scarf in the car, if you don't have extras. Otherwise I'll sit it out this week," she said.
"We have extras," the pastor said, looking at her with relief and perhaps a bit of admiration. For a moment, Richard thought the pastor might even hug her.
Amber did run up and hug her. "Oh, I didn't think until just as we drove up, that we should have warned you. Oh, I'm so glad you don't mind. I don't even think about it, because I lived mostly in [foster] homes where when we went to church we always wore head coverings. And Jake and I have always attended churches like that. I simply forgot. I'm so glad you don't mind, because I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable, or, um, think we're weird, but I'll shut up now." She smiled and pretended to zip her lips.
"Churches where the women cover their heads I can understand. It's the ones that tie themselves into pretzels making excuses for ignoring Paul's instruction and church history that make me dizzy. But let's go in and find a seat, shall we? I like to pray before services," Emma said.
Amber cried and gave her another hug, led her to the scarf bin, and waited for Jake to come along and lead them in. As they waited, they donned their scarves, as did most of the women heading into the chapel. Apparently although the church only mandated covering during communion, most of the ladies were happy enough to cover for the whole service. Richard thought of his youth, when all women wore hats or veils to church, and wondered how it had become so odd to see women doing what had been so commonplace – in fact, expected – not all that long ago.
Durand commended the pastor on his church, and Richard on his choice of a wife and the apparent quality of his new friends, and escorted Richard up to catch up with the others.
The service was long, close to two hours, which was another fact Jake and Amber had forgotten to tell them. Although more informal than Richard was used to, it was meatier than the church in which he'd been raised. Durand sat away from them for the service, and looked sadder than usual – but, of course, attending a non-Catholic service was always a strain on him. Always had been. There was no reason that would ever change.
And yet. It didn't seem to be that sort of strain, necessarily. Richard decided to ask him after services what was wrong."
As a teaser for the book, I'd like to say that what was wrong was quite wrong indeed, and has nothing to do with the little church that met in the funeral home. Clicking on the image below will take you to the book on Amazon. It is also available at many other retailers, in trade paperback and in multiple ebook formats.