Funerals are very important occasions which give people an opportunity to express their grief, and to celebrate the life of someone they have loved and lost, and to commend their loved one to God.
They also allow the Priest taking the funeral service an opportunity to speak of the hope and promise of eternal life, which Christians believe we are promised through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is also an opportunity to seek the reassurance and comfort of a God who said, 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.' (Matthew 5:4)
The Church of England funeral service can be adapted to suit the simplest and most intimate of gatherings, a funeral can be a very small family affair with personally chosen music. But it can also be a large gathering with hundreds of mourners, or it can be a full Requiem Mass. All of these options are possible at St Bartholomew's.
A funeral can take place in our church or at the crematorium. The liturgy for funerals in Armley is taken from Common Worship.
The makeup of the service including hymns, songs, poems, or a eulogy etc. can be discussed when the Priest who will conduct your service visits to arrange final details.
Funeral services contain both sorrow and joy, as grief weaves alongside happy memories of a life well lived. But there are times when death can seem untimely and tragic. Sorrow then becomes the overwhelming emotion, particularly in the case of accidents or the death of a young person. The funerals of children can be particularly harrowing as we expect children to have their whole lives ahead of them. The Priest of St Bartholomew's will be happy to offer any support he is able to in the event of such a tragedy. This might include praying with you or for you and your family, or it may be a case sharing a cup of tea while you talk, whatever you need to do the clergy of the team will offer support in any way in which we are able..
On the other hand, there are also times when a funeral can only be a beautiful celebration of the long and happy life of a 'good and faithful servant', a Christian believer who has live as long full and happy life, having spread the love and light of Christ to their family, friends and community, in thought and word and deed.
Funerals services by their very nature cause all who attend to question life, death and what comes next. A Christian funeral service reminds us that Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again to show us the way to eternal life by following in His footsteps.
Jesus' said, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.' (John 3:16-17) This gift of grace, completely undeserved by any one of us, is ours to be as freely received, as it is freely given.
Naturally, this leads to thoughts about what heaven might be like, and we know little about it except that we are promised, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be His peoples, and God himself will be with them; He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4) This, with the promise of the restoration of creation through Christ's saving grace leads us to believe that those rare moments in which we glimpse something of God's glory in the beauty of the earth or one another, we are seeing a glimpse of heaven.
The Funeral Service
As the coffin enters church unless music is chosen, the service begins with some words of scripture that speak of the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead and the gift of eternal life.
As the funeral service continues there can be a Psalm which can be sung and there will be a Gospel or New Testament reading, this is designed to give comfort and hope to those who mourn. After the readings there will be a short address, which will say something about the deceased person's life and the hope, which the Christian faith offers. This may be followed by a family eulogy or some poetry which speaks of the deceased's life and faith.
Prayers for the deceased and for those who mourn will normally follow. Where the funeral is to be a Mass of Requiem the Eucharist will begin after this and those present who are confirmed or who normally receive Holy Communion in their own church may do so here.
NB: A Requiem Mass is the best possible way for anyone to be sent from this world to the next.
The committal is where the deceased is entrusted to God's safekeeping. It can be an intensely and emotional moment, marking the end of our earthly relationship with them. The Committal may take place in the Crematorium, in a cemetery or a churchyard. It is brief and the words most associated with funerals are said by the minister, 'earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.' Some people also opt for the ashes of a loved one to be buried at a later date.
Finally, the Priest will conclude the service by Blessing all of the people present.
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