The following form of service is offered to aid the person without previous experience to lay to rest a fellow disciple.
Forms of Service: Burial of the Dead
The person presiding at the funeral may read all or part of this service as the person deems appropriate.
The hope of Christianity is in Jesus' words: (the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verses 25 and 26) '"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.'"
The promise of Christianity to everyone who has lived is resurrection from death. The patriarch Job said, (chapter 19, verses 25 through 27) '"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold [him], and not [behold] another.'"
The reality of Christianity is found in the words of King David: (Psalm 39, verses 4 through 12) '"O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreaths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely [as a breath] they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my [sins]. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is mere breath! Selah Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.'"
The reality of Christianity is also found in this prayer of Moses: (Psalms 90, verses 1 through 13) "Lord, you have been our [refuge] in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, 'Return, O children of man!' For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end with a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or by reason of strength eighty; yet this span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!"
Glory be to the Father and to the Son; as it was in the days of Moses, so it is now, and so it will be until the end of this age, until the judgment of the saints is revealed upon the coming of the Son, the Messiah.
The Apostle Paul writes, (the 15th chapter of his first epistle to the saints at Corinth) "Now I remind you, brethren, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you…for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received; that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time…then he appeared to James, then to all of the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.…Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can you say there is no resurrection? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most [miserable]. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For 'God had put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when it says, 'all things are put in subjection,' it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him…that God may be all in all.
"But someone will ask. 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?' You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another of the stars, for star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable [as a kernel of wheat]; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body [a body of flesh]; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual [as night precedes day, and as darkness gives way to light]. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven [those who have been born from above]. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
"I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come the saying that is written; 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
The person presiding at this time may direct that a hymn be sung, followed by a prayer remembering the deceased. Then follows:
The Apostle Paul further writes, (from the 4th chapter of his second epistle if the Corinthians) "What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you."
And from the book to the Hebrews, we learn, "Just as it is appointed to man to die once, and after that comes the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once [as our sacrifice] to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him."
The prophet Isaiah said, "The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their righteousness."
The assurance of all of Scripture, the hope of humanity, the promise to those perishing, the reality that lives is resurrection from the grave. The angel who brought to the prophet Daniel what was written in the Book of Truth told Daniel that those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life. All of humanity will be resurrected, all will live again, all will have their judgments revealed. Jesus said, (the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John, verses 25 through 29) '"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.'" Let us, therefore, do good for as the Preacher said, "The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing," and they have no more ability to affect their reward. What is will be.
Mortal life is but breath, given and taken away. Every person is as a flower in a field, here today gone tomorrow. But the grave is as a cocoon where the worm that doesn't die awaits its change, awaits becoming like a butterfly. Let us again pray.
The person conducting the service shall close this portion of the service with a dismissal prayer followed by a hymn if the service is held anywhere other than at the graveside.
When the body is placed into the grave, the person conducting the service shall say,
Forasmuch as it has pleased Almighty God, in His wisdom, to take from this world our deceased brother (or sister), we therefore commit his (or her) body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, looking forward to the resurrection on the last day, the day of the second coming of Christ Jesus, that day when the judgment of disciples shall be revealed. All who have been born from above shall be remembered and shall be changed and shall be given their own glorious body.
The person conducting the service shall again offer a prayer that remembers the person and assures those in attendance that the person rests from all of his or her labors…a halting prayer said with meaning in a faltering voice is better heard by God than repetition of the Lord's payer, or any other previously written prayer and benediction.
Those in attendance shall sing a hymn and be dismissed.
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles,
a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."