At a person’s death, the church shares the grief of those who mourn and remembers the brevity of life on earth. At the funeral we give voice to sorrow, thank God for our loved one, and entrust this companion of ours into the hands of God. Trusting in God’s promise in baptism that we are claimed by Christ forever, we rest in the sure hope of the resurrection. When the church gathers to mark the end of life, Christ crucified and risen is the witness of worship and strength of mutual consolation, and the hope of healing.
For pastoral care and to help in planning, the pastor should be notified immediately upon the death of a member of the congregation. No plans for the funeral should be made apart from consultation with the pastor and appropriate parish staff. When possible, it is a good idea to plan the funeral liturgy well before the death of a Christian to avoid planning during a time of grieving. Such planning offers an occasion for the pastor to talk seriously about the Christian hope of the resurrection of the dead through Jesus Christ.
Christians will strive to keep the gospel hope of the resurrection at the center of all observances associated with the death of a Christian. Because the church understands the Burial of the Dead to be a service of worship to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, it does not allow social or fraternal societies to introduce rites or ceremonies into its liturgy. These ceremonies should not be mingled with the church’s worship of God either in the church building or in any other setting (such as a funeral home, mortuary, or at the graveside). Military honors and fraternal tributes and rites should be kept separate from the funeral and committal services of the church.
When we gather for a funeral service, we gather to remember and celebrate the life of our loved one we now entrust to God. However, our primary gathering centers on remembering and celebrating the life we have received through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.
There are many great and wonderful hymns and scripture verses to consider as you think about the service. To assist you in your planning/thinking, we’ve included a few options below. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, and you are welcome to bring other hymns and scripture verses than those listed here.
Suggested Scripture Verses
As you consider what you would like to include in the service, please hold the following in mind:
- If you would like a family member or friend to speak at the service, that would be welcomed. However, we would ask that they write down what they will say ahead of time, so that they can be sure to stick to those stories and ideas that they wished to focus on.
- As a general policy, we do not use recorded music in worship. If you would like to play a piece of music that was special to your loved one, the visitation service or the reception following the service would be wonderful places to include this.
- Solos and soloists are wonderful additions to the service. However, it’s a good idea to include at least two hymns for the congregation to sing. By joining in the songs of praise, they are invited into the service in a more intimate way, finding voice for their own grief and sorrow – as well as their own proclamation of faith in God’s gift.
- It is appropriate to celebrate the Lord’s Supper at the service. Though this is not often done, there is no better expression of our trust in the gift God gave us in Jesus to save us.
- Flowers are a wonderful expression of people’s love and care for the deceased. However, there are many opportunities for lasting gifts to the church. Memorial gifts may be made to the ALC Foundation, as well as to individual ministries within the church. The church office keeps a list of possible gifts. Please note, we record all memorial gifts in our memorial gift book, but will not attach a memorial gift plaque to the gift.