Death is a part of living; thoughtful Christians acknowledge this and prepare for it. For the Christian, the time to prepare for one’s own death is when one is sound of body and mind. Planning ahead allows family and friends to deal with their own grief at the time of death, and will lighten the burden of the many details to come.

The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, not 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.” This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn. –Book of Common Prayer pg. 507

Christian burial is marked by three characteristics. First and foremost, it is an act of worship wherein we glorify God for the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Second, it is a time when members of the Body of Christ gather to comfort one another and to offer mutual assurance of God’s abiding love. Third, it is a liturgy of celebration whereby we give thanks for a deceased loved one and commend that person to the care of Almighty God.

The funeral service is an act of corporate worship, rather than a private affair. It is a time to celebrate, commemorate and give thanks for the life of the departed. A funeral is appropriately set in a church within the context of a Holy Eucharist Service.

Parish clergy regard death and funerals as an important part of their work. They care about your family, are eager to offer comfort, and are always available to help you understand God’s love. The Christian funeral generally includes two or three lessons from the Old Testament, the Epistle or from the Gospels. The Bible readings tell of God’s care and of the hope of eternal life.

Some churches have a columbarium to hold cremated ashes. A columbarium is a structure provided for the placement of the ashes of the dead and can be either an interior or exterior structure. Ashes are placed in niches within the columbarium and are marked with a memorial plaque.

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