The funeral service is, in fact, a Christian worship service. Although thankfulness is to be expressed to God for the life and witness of the deceased, the focus of worship is upon God with comfort and consolation given to living. As such, the following is true.
THE CLOSING OF THE CASKET IN THE BEGINNING AS THE FINAL VIEWING
The proper object of the service is the worship of God and the consolation of the living. The focus is not the body of the deceased. As such, under the direction of the funeral home, the casket will close at the beginning of the worship service, and will not be reopened. With God’s help, the pastor, musicians, friends, and other worship participants will ensure sorrow is replaced with the praise and worship of God.
DISPOSITION OF THE BODY
Burial, cremation or body donation are options within the Christian tradition. A casket or urn need not necessarily be present at the funeral or memorial service and separate interment is an appropriate option. No body or cremains may be left in the church overnight. .
At times, it is difficult to plan the logistics of a funeral during the moments of emotional stress, therefore, you are encouraged to help all those who care for you by reviewing this material and discussing your preferences with family, friends, and the pastor. The information you provide will allow individuals the opportunity of making crucial decisions about funeral plans prior to the crisis of death and will relieve a portion of the family’s burden to plan logistical details. Please complete the information-gathering form by clicking here or call the church office to have a form mailed to you or pick one up. The form will be placed in your confidential file in the pastor’s office.
Asbury United Methodist Church is a faith-filled, caring congregation. Our Christian commitment is to be present for one another, in the name of Jesus, in every phase of life's journey: from baptism, confirmation, and Christian life, to the hope of Resurrection with Christ.
The central doctrine of the Christian faith is the Resurrection of Jesus. Because He Lives, our faith is present. Christians affirm their common faith in their attitude toward death and in their witness of faith during the time of death. This booklet is recommended for study and reference for each member of the congregation to enhance your theological understanding of and preparedness for death; to aid in your practical and personal preparations for death; to aid in your funeral, memorial, or graveside Christian worship service preparations; and to assist loved ones during the time of death. The material is based on the United Methodist Book of Worship and specific policies of Asbury United Methodist Church.
The sanctuary is the appropriate place for a Christian funeral or memorial service. Here is where we worship every Sunday, baptize our children, celebrate marriage, and gather at the Lord's Table. Here we are surrounded by symbols of our faith and reminders that we are surrounded by a long ancestral "cloud of witnesses," supported by both the love and grace of God.
Nonetheless, graveside, ocean, gardens, or other special places, still can be a location for the Christian funeral worship service, especially in cases when the body has been cremated.
If the deceased is a member in good standing or if the deceased is the immediate family member that lives in the same household of a member in good standing (contact the church if you are unsure), then the community center fee is waived and in addition, the church will provide a prepared meal to accommodate up to 75 people.
There is an additional cost to be determined if the meal needs to accommodate more than 75 people. Please inform the pastor if this is the case.
The repast meal will include the following:
In the event friends or family make an additional dish of food, they will be directed to be in contact with the bereaved family to have this dish delivered to home of the bereaved family. Our repast team has found it an additional hardship to attempt to manage specific dishes for so many people. And furthermore, since the family needs food after the day of the funeral, we have found it suitable to direct all additional food to the family for nourishment in the days after the funeral worship service.
The organist and/or audio specialist will provide suitable sacred music to be played prior to the beginning of service during the viewing of the body prior to the closing of the casket. Instrumentalists and vocalists may also be used through the family’s arrangement and coordination with the pastor.
Passages which have special meaning to the family or which were special to the deceased may be chosen in consultation with the pastor.
This is a prolonged section which may include testimonies in remembrance of the deceased, additional musical selections, reading of cards and obituary, and/or other poems, words, etc. that the family seems fit to include.
The sermon will always be focused on the worship of God. Praise and thanksgiving to God for how the deceased lived out God’s word will be offered.
The Lord’s Supper is suggested, but not required, as a response to funeral worship service. In receiving Holy Communion during the funeral worship service, we are reminded that Jesus holds the keys to life and death, and that through receiving his body and blood, we are truly though in mysterious ways, receiving the strength of God to continue our Christian journey in the midst of this present grief. Holy Communion will be administered through the dipping of bread or wafers into the cup of grape juice. (e.g. by intinction). United Methodist have an open table policy, and all persons present in the worship service are invited to receive God’s grace through communion.
NOTE: This is only a suggested order and elements to a Christian funeral worship service. As you discern and plan this service, let God’s creativity anoint your plans. The Christian worships service is a celebration and should be full of joy and hope; singing and laughter; memories and stories; and should provide an opportunity for those who are not saved to become saved.