FUNERALS / MEMORIALS

‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8: 38-39)

Christians believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ give them hope and cause for thanksgiving in the face of death.  In this faith, we entrust those who have died to the love, mercy and care of God.  In other words, God’s love has the final word.  This is not to say that we do not mourn when someone dies, but we also have hope.

A Funeral Service is the chance to say goodbye to a person’s earthly body, give thanks to God for their lives, commend them to God’s care and pray for those who mourn.  A Memorial Service normally happens after the committal of the body (either by cremation or burial) and takes the form of a service of remembering and thanksgiving.  We offer the church for families to use for funerals or memorials.

To arrange a funeral, please speak with your funeral director; they will normally get in contact with the minister.  The minister will then meet with the family of the deceased to plan the funeral or memorial in detail. 

 

Below are some thoughts from Rev Kim for when planning a funeral service.

Introduction

A Christian funeral service is made up of various elements: prayers, at least one reading from the Bible, tributes (sometimes known as the eulogy), commendation and committal.  If the family wish, there can also be hymns, music chosen for coming into and leaving the chapel, and perhaps some other ‘action’, such as placing flowers on the coffin.

This section is intended to help guide your thinking and planning, and includes suggested Bible readings and hymns.  However, the suggestions below are by no means exhaustive.  When choosing Bible readings and hymns you may wish to consider ones which reflect the character of the person who has died; or maybe choices might have particular relevance – for example, a hymn sung at a wedding.

Music to enter and leave the chapel

This is not compulsory, but it is often chosen to reflect the character of the person who is being mourned.  Some folk choose music they enjoyed – perhaps the first dance at a wedding or song they enjoyed singing.  However, some choose more personal things – I have heard RAF marches, National Anthems and the Match of the Day theme tune.  If you do not want to choose anything in particular, but would like music, the musician on duty will play something appropriate.

It is helpful to let those making the practical arrangements for the funeral (minister and funeral directors) know your choice about a week in advance.

Eulogy and tributes

This is an opportunity to remember the deceased; perhaps give a little bit of history about their life, but more importantly reflecting on the impact they had on the mourners. It is a time for sharing memories and giving thanks. 

It may be that a family member or friend wishes to say something at the funeral.  It is a good idea to write down your thoughts in advance; in that way, you have something to prompt you, or the minister or another relative or friend can read it on their behalf if you are unable to on the day.

Sometimes the family feel that they cannot get up and speak in front of people, so choose to write a tribute which a friend or the minister reads on their behalf. 

Sometimes people find poems or passages they find helpful which may be included in the tributes.  This can be a helpful way to include children and young people, who often respond by writing a poem especially for the occasion. 

In other circumstances, the minister will prepare the eulogy from the information the family give them.  The minister will also give a short reflection on ‘where is God in this’.

In all cases, discuss this with the minister leading the service.  It is worth bearing in mind that services (especially if held at a crematorium) are given a set amount of time; if there are to be more than one tribute, it might be that hymns will need to be short, or just one hymn.

Other ‘actions’

Families may find it helpful to have a particular ‘action’ to say goodbye during the funeral service.  In some cases they may lay flowers on the coffin; or they may place a picture on the coffin.  This can be a good way of including children or young people.  If you would like to do this, talk with the minister so that they know to include this in the service.

If family or friends would like to be one of the pall-bearers for the coffin, please discuss this with the funeral director.

Suggested Bible readings for funerals

If you have chosen to have a Christian funeral service, it is usual to have one or two readings from the Bible (or more if you wish).  Bible passages can be looked up at www.biblegateway.com.  There are different translations of the Bible – most commonly used are New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), New International Version (NIV or TNIV) or the King James Authorised.  If you have a preference for the version used, please let the minister know. Here are some readings commonly chosen for funerals.

Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd)

Psalm 121 (I lift my eyes to the hills)

Psalm 131 (I have stilled and quietened my soul)

Isaiah 43: 1-3a, 5-7, 13, 15, 18-19, 25 (Behold, I am doing a new thing)

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15 (For everything its season)

John 14: 1-6, 27 (In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places)

Romans 8: 28, 31-35, 37-39 (Nothing will separate us from the love of God)

1 John 4: 7-18 (My dear friends, let us love one another)

Revelation 21: 1-7 (I saw a new heaven and a new earth)

Suggested hymns for funerals

Abide with me (Henry Francis Lyte)

All praise to our redeeming God (Charles Wesley)

All things bright and beautiful (Cecil Frances Alexander)

Alleluia, sing to Jesus (William Chatterton Dix)

Amazing grace (Traditional)

Be thou my vision (Anon)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine (Fanny Crosby)

Dear Lord and Father of mankind (John Greenleaf Whittier)

Eternal Father, strong to save (William Whiting)

Great is thy faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah (Peter Williams)

I know that my redeemer lives (Samuel Medley)

Immortal, invisible, God only wise (Walter Chalmers Smith)

In heavenly love abiding (Anna Laetitia Waring)

Lord of all hopefulness (Jan Struther)

Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided (Timothy Dudley-Smith)

Love divine, all loves excelling (Charles Wesley)

Make me a channel of your peace (Sebastian Temple; St Francis of Assisi)

O God, our help in ages past (Issac Watts)

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder (How great thou art) (Stuart K Hine)

O love that wilt not let me go (George Matheson)

O perfect love (Dorothy Frances Gurney)

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross (George Bennard)

One more step along the world I go (Sydney Carter)

Praise my soul the King of heaven (Henry Francis Lyte)

The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended (John Ellerton)

The King of love my shepherd is (Henry Williams Baker)

The Lord’s my shepherd (Crimmond)

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son (Edmund L Budry)

To God be the glory (Frances Jane van Alstyne)

When we walk with the Lord (Trust and Obey) (John H Sammis)

Will your anchor hold (Priscillia Jane Owens)