Complete Funeral Service
(including eulogy and grave-side service)
by Frank Schaefer (adapted from the United Methodist Book of Worship)
Greeting: We have gathered here this afternoon in God's presence as family and friends to remember the life of _______________ and to commend his/her soul into the gracious care of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss. May God grant us grace, that in pain we may find comfort, in sorrow hope, in death resurrection.
The Word of God tells us that:
Dying, Christ destroyed our death.
Rising, Christ restored our life.
As in baptism _____________ put on Christ
So in Christ may he be clothed with glory.
Here and now, we are God's children
What we shall be has not yet been revealed;
But we know that when Christ appears, we will be like him
For we shall see Christ as he is.
This is our Christian hope.
Listen to the Word of grace:
Jesus said, I am the resurrection and I am life.
Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet they shall live,
and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end
the first and the last.
I died and behold I am alive for evermore,
and I hold the keys of hell and death
because I live, you shall live also.
Let us pray
O God, who gave us birth, you are ever more ready to hear
than we are to pray.
You know our needs before we ask.
Give us now your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death,
we may see the light of eternity.
Speak to us once more your solemn message of life & death
Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.
And when our days here are accomplished,
enable us to die as those who go forth to live,
so that nothing in life or in death will separate us
from your great love in Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Let us now attend to the Words of Psalm 23 (or other Scripture)
[As an introduction you may want to read the obituary published in the local newspaper.]
[I usually proceed to share some aspects of the life of the deceased as shared by family members or from my own knowledge of the person].
We could tell and retell all of the wonderful aspects of ________ and his/her life. And its a good thing that we have these memories. They will be with us forever.
Yet, there is a more important aspect about _________'s life that I would like to emphasize--an aspect worthy of celebration: his/her faith.
At this time we are reminded of the fact that we all are mortal, we all have to die one day (they say its the most certain thing in life besides taxes). And that brings up those questions concerning the meaning of it all, doesn't it?
As I see it, there are three basic attitudes to live your life in light of eternity:
a) the attitude of : "I live only once. So Im going to live life to the "fullest." I want to get as much out of life as possible. And this attitude causes us to go about our lives hurting God, others, and, yes, in the end even ourselves.
b) the second attitude is that of Pascal's Wager. I don't know if the religious message of heaven and hell is true, but just in case it is, Im going to live according to the religious ways. Because if it is not true, then I will be oblivious of it, but if it's true, I'm gonna be glad I lived according to God's laws.
c) the third attitude is only possible if you have experienced God's grace and forgiveness. It creates in us a joy to be there for others, to love not because we get anything in return, but because we are full of love.
That's the attitude we should all strive for. What do I mean when I say let us celebrate ________'s faith. In the stories I've heard of him/her, the way s/he lived, and in the way s/he went on to be with the Lord, s/he was a living testimony of God's love and grace, and s/he has taken his/her seat among the one's who have gone before him/her in the faith. And it is so good to see that s/he died being surrounded by loved ones, just as s/he has surrounded others with his/her love.
Let us, in the face of the mystery of death, and given the testimony of ________s life of faith, let us therefore evaluate our own life. Let us be reminded of the things that are truly important. Things that survive into eternity: our faith in Jesus Christ, the love we share with others, the Word of God, etc. Let us live our lives so that testimonies abound at your and my funeral service--testimonies of the grace and goodness of God evidenced in your and my life. Amen
[Allow time for testimonials of family members or friends]
Let us pray:
God of us all, your love never ends.
When all else fails, you still are God.
We pray to you for one another in our need
and for all, anywhere, who mourn with us this day.
To those who doubt, give light;
To those who are weak, strength.
Keep true in us the love with which we hold one another
In all our ways we trust you.
Now to the One who is able to keep you from falling
and to make you stand without blemish
in the presence of God's glory with rejoicing
to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority now and forevermore. Amen.
At the Grave-Side
Jesus said: "Truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me, must follow me, and where I am, there my servant will be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Prayer of Committal:
Almighty God, into your hands, we commend your son/daughter ___________ in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This body we commit to the ground (to the elements/its resting place):
earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labors for their deeds follow them.
Lord, we thank you for those we love but see no more. Receive into your arms your servant _____________ and grant that increasing in knowledge and love of you, s/he may go from strength to strength in service to your heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us share in the Lords prayer together
After saying our finals fare-wells, let us go forth in the certain hope of being reunited with ____________ at the end of time. Go forth with Gods peace and may the Almighty bless you now and forevermore. Amen
Inspired Word Sermons
Frank Schaefer, for JavaCasa Resources and the Desperate Preacher's Site, 1999