Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Makes A Good Funeral?

Fr. Chris shares some insights from Dr. Tom Long at his personal blog.

As members of the Church, having been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is appropriate that all Christian persons be buried from the Church. As we believe in the resurrection of Christ, so we also believe that our bodies will participate in His resurrection at the Last Day. These concepts are foundational to our identity as Christians, and we affirm them when we recite the Creeds of the Church in worship. As members of the body of Christ, it is most important that the Burial Office be a service of public worship, and that it be read within the context of the Holy Eucharist. To do so is a powerful symbol of our being joined to the whole Church, both the living and the dead.

As the Prayer Book states (BCP 507), the Burial Office is an Easter liturgy which finds its meaning in our Lord's victory over death and the grave. In this liturgy, we celebrate the life and ministry of our deceased sister or brother. And, we look forward in an eschatological way to reunion with those who are dead, and with Christ himself, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

Even so, our joy in the passing of a loved one into the larger life in Christ neither can nor should preclude a natural outpouring of grief. Whenever we have become separated from one whom we love, grief over that loss is a good, healthy and God-given emotional response. Indeed, one purpose of the funeral rite is to aid in the facilitation of such grief by clearly showing the finality of death until the time of resurrection. How an individual experiences grief in no way provides a measure of that person's faith, Christian hope or love for the deceased.

We will be remembering loved ones - those living with us and those living face-to-face with God - in a special Veterans Day service at 7PM. I hope you can all join us.

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