The date which we fear as last is but the Birthday of Eternity. Lucius Annaeus Seneca
When we celebrate a Funeral . . . . .
Why choose a Christian Funeral for your loved one?
As Christians, we believe that there really is life beyond death: that death is not the end of a person’s life. There are many references to this in the bible, but perhaps the most telling can be found in the Gospel of St John 14. 1-6. Because here we see proof of that great Christian hope: that there really is life beyond death, when Jesus emphasises the fact that the people of God will enter into the fullness of his kingdom, as they pass from this life into Eternal Life.
“Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me. For In my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again: and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. But Thomas said to him: Lord we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to Thomas: I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by me!”
In this passage we can see that Jesus is giving us the assurance: as I said earlier, that death is not the end of a person’s life. We were not created by God just to live here on earth, for however long that might be, and then return to the earth. Because of his tremendous love for each of us, Almighty God has far greater plans for us. His intention is that we should eventually pass from this life into Eternal Life, where we will dwell in the nearer presence of our loving heavenly Father: and will meet once again with those we have loved, but lost, as we leave the pain and suffering of this world behind us. I imagine the process will be something like this. “Just as our birth, was the physical means by which we were able to pass from the womb, into this life: so our death will be the physical means by which we can pass from this life, into Eternal Life! And just as when we were born, there was a whole group of people who we call family waiting for our arrival: so it will be when we die. There will be a whole group of people whom we love, who we call family, who have gone before us and can’t wait to see us again. And where they are, in our Fathers house (or Kingdom) there will be no more pain or suffering: no more death, only Eternal Life.”
When we celebrate a Christian Funeral:
Therefore when we celebrate a Christian funeral, the service is full of hope. It’s full of that great Christian hope that there really is life beyond death. But the service is also full of love, because God so loved the world and everything he created (including each of us) that he sent his Son, to the end that all who believe in him should not die, but have Eternal Life. And this includes you and me, and every one that you love. In a Christian funeral we celebrate the life of the person who has now passed on: and we celebrate their life because they were very important to us: they might have even greatly shaped the person that we ourselves have become today, and we give thanks to God for that, as we commend them into his loving care.
St Paul, in his letter to the Romans wrote: (Rom8.38-39) “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in the whole of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Once again in Psalm 23 which is very popular in funerals, because again, it assures each of us that as we pass through the valley of the shadow of death we won’t be afraid, because we know that Jesus our good shepherd has promised to be there with us, and show us the way.
“The Lord is my shepherd:
Therefore can I lack nothing.
He will make me lie down in green pastures:
And lead me beside still waters.
He will refresh my soul:
And guide me in right pathways for his name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil:
For you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the face of those who trouble me:
You have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
Surely your goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life:
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED ABOUT FUNERALS
What if I am not a Christian? This would not prevent us from taking the funeral if this was the request from your family and those arranging the funeral details. Our God is a God of second chances, and the bible tells us very clearly that his intention is that everyone come to him and be saved. Of course the service we would take would be Christian based.
What if I haven’t been to Church for a long time? Again this is not a problem, as far as the funeral is concerned. We are always here to minister to the needs of our people, and members of the Community who are in need. Especially at times when they are grieving for the loss of a loved one.
Does the service need to be held in Church? No, funeral services can be held either in the church, at the grave side in a cemetery, or at a crematorium. Wherever the deceased has indicated a preference for: or the family would feel most comfortable.
What about a fee for services? Yes there is a fee associated with funeral services, and these will be explained when you meet with the Funeral Director to arrange the service.
Can I pre-arrange my funeral while I am still able to? Yes, in fact we would recommend that if possible you do this to ensure that the service that is held: is the type of service you would be happy with. If you plan to do this I would suggest that you contact both the church and the Funeral Director that you plan to use at the time. The Priest will be more than happy to discuss all the details of the actual service with you beforehand and even select the readings and music you would prefer to have included. Poetry and everyday songs can also be used during the service if they are meaningful to the deceased.
Can the Church arrange catering for afterwards if the service is held there? Yes, we do have a small group of ladies who can arrange catering if required at the Church, and they provide a wonderful spread of finger foods.
Should children be allowed to attend a funeral? Most definitely. But it is wise to explain what will happen and what they might see beforehand if possible. They might even have a lot of questions during the service, and it is best that you answer them simply and honestly, as quietly as possibly so as not to disturb those around you. Children are not looking for detailed information when asking questions: but they do need to be given honest answers. Some parents have even brought them into the church or funeral facility beforehand, so that they can actually see it and feel more comfortable on the day. Our priests would even be happy to meet with you and the children and explain what will take place.
If you need more information, please contact the Church Office on 08 9535 6152 for details.