A funeral marks the close of a human life on earth. It is the opportunity for friends and family to express their grief, to give thanks for the life of someone at the end of their Journey in this world and to commend them into God's keeping.

 The Funeral service can be simple and quiet with only a few members of the family present or an occasion with music, hymns and a packed church. It may take place in a church or a crematorium chapel,

Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being, and, in particular, the person you love who has died.

Everyone has a right to a funeral in a church, whether or not they were a churchgoer. Ministers and Pastors see the taking of funerals as an important part of their work and will gladly give their time to talk to those who are facing loss, to be with them in their pain, and to help to arrange whatever kind of funeral service is most appropriate.

What happens in the Funeral service?

It may be helpful to look at the general order of events.

Entry of the coffin

Traditionally, the minister meets the coffin at the door of the church or crematorium, or at the graveyard gate, and leads the procession, saying some reassuring words from the Bible, such as:

Alternatively, the coffin may be brought into church some time before the service (sometimes on the day before), or the mourners may be seated first: these options avoid processing behind the coffin, which some find distressing, as well as giving time to pray quietly before the service.

Welcome and introduction

The minister welcomes those present, introduces the service and says a prayer. Then there might be a hymn, and a tribute spoken about the person who has died. This might be done by members of the family or friends, or by the minister using notes supplied by the family. Sometimes symbols of the person's life and faith are placed on or near the coffin as part of this.

Readings and sermon

People are invited to have a poem or some written comment on the persons life,There are bible readings telling of God's care and of the hope of eternal life. The sermon brings these great Christian beliefs about life beyond death into focus in the context of this particular death.

Commendation and Farewell

The minister stands by the coffin and, if appropriate, the mourners may gather round too. A period of silence leads into the prayer of commendation, in which the person who has died is entrusted to the love and mercy of God.

The Committal

If burial is to take place in the churchyard, or local cemetery, the word of committal takes place at the graveside. The mourners gather round the open grave into which the coffin is lowered.

Handfuls of earth may then be scattered on the coffin.

 If cremation is to follow a service in church, the words of committal may either be said in church before the hearse leaves or in the crematorium itself. The words may be accompanied by the coffin moving slowly out of sight, or the closing of a curtain to hide it from view.

 The committal can be a very emotional moment, but many who are suffering grief find that, even in their sadness, the words of prayer can lift them towards the experience of Christian hope in the knowledge of life beyond death.

© Cornerstone Baptist Church 2011