Funeral Service Guidelines

Died in Christ

Our Condolences

God did not intend for us to die. Death is the result of sin, which our first parents Adam and Eve passed on to their descendants and which we know all too well because we sin and therefore deserve to die. But God in his mercy conquered sin and death by the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus as Savior have eternal life, even though they die. It is appropriate therefore when a loved one dies and enters the kingdom of heaven, that those who are still alive gather for a Christian funeral service to give thanks for the eternal life the deceased now enjoys and to receive comfort from Jesus through His Word.

Pre-Funeral Service Preparations

No one knows when death will come, but each of us can prepare for a funeral service before death arrives. At the end of this pamphlet is a form (“Information for My Funeral Service”) that can help guide in planning your funeral so that your loved ones can know what Jesus means to you and how they can receive comfort from His Word. Below are the guidelines for planning.

The Funeral Service

Since Jesus is the Lord of life and death, the service will reflect His teachings and the practices of His Church. The Funeral Service is intended for the burial of those who departed this life in the Christian faith. Whenever possible, the funeral service of baptized members should be conducted at the church. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Our Savior’s is a liturgical church, so we use the rite for Funeral Service in our hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (p. 278).
  2. Because the funeral rite focuses on the comfort Jesus gives in His Word, we discourage eulogies. Also, because of the emotional nature of a funeral service, it is often too difficult for family and friends to speak in public. Let the service be a time for you to receive comfort from Jesus as He speaks through our pastor. Personal messages of remembrance of the deceased are better shared at a luncheon or other gathering following the service.
  3. We usually do not celebrate Holy Communion at our funeral services.
  4. The pastor will have final say on all music to be used at the service and any special service requests, since he is our called shepherd of public worship and liturgy. The general principle of appropriate music at a funeral is the same for any service in church, namely the focus should be on what Jesus did and promises, and on Christian confidence, trust, and hope in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. The organist can offer you suggestions of appropriate, beautiful funeral music. The ceremonies and tributes of social or other societies have no place within the service. Civic and military ceremonies or tributes should be held after the service, normally following the committal.

The day of the funeral

  1. The service will usually take place as soon as practical. The service may take place day or night.
  2. We encourage viewing of the body before burial (or cremation) and that the body is present at the funeral. God has redeemed us both body and soul. The way we treat the body after death reflects our belief that on the Last Day God will reunite our same – but now glorified – body with our soul. Viewing the deceased one last time helps with the grieving process. Placement of the casket during the visitation may be in the narthex or in the front of the sanctuary in front of the Communion rail. The pastor can discuss with you the pros and cons of each option.
  3. Just before the service starts the casket is closed and a rite of placing a funeral pall over the casket takes place at the entrance to the sanctuary to begin the service. The pall represents the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers us at our Baptism. It is Christ’s righteousness that makes us members of God’s family and brings us into His Church. Family members place the pall over the casket as the words of Romans 6 are read. After the rite, the family follows the casket to the front of the sanctuary where it is placed near the Paschal Candle, the symbol of the resurrected Christ.
  4. You may place flowers in the chancel. The top of the altar is reserved for the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion. We neither require nor expect that you leave flowers for the church’s use. However, if you want to leave the flowers in the chancel for the regular divine services, we would be most happy to have them. We would acknowledge your generous donation in all services following the funeral.
  5. The congregation does not pay the organist and janitor for funeral services. It is customary to give the pastor an honorarium. The fees for the organist and janitor are:
    • Organist: $125; $25 extra to work with a soloist/ensemble
    • Janitor: $150

Death and the subsequent funeral can be an overwhelming experience for those who grieve the loss of a loved one. Preparing beforehand can help deal with the “sting of death” (1 Corinthians 15:56) and enable us to rejoice in God’s grace. Christ and his holy angels rejoice when another believer enters eternal life in God’s kingdom, as do your brothers and sisters in Christ at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

+ Revelation 21:4 +

Information for My Funeral Service

Because Jesus assures believers in Him eternal life, we can face the time when we die with hope. Aware of the fact that someday death will come, this form is intended to serve as a guide for my family as they plan my funeral service. The pastor and my family may feel free to use this information in any way they feel is appropriate. Because a funeral service is intended for gospel comfort for the living, the wishes of my family are to be considered along with my suggestions.

Name:

Date of Birth:

Place of Birth:

Date of Baptism:

Confirmation Verse:

Favorite Bible Verses/Stories:

Favorite Hymns:

Casket or urn at funeral service? (circle one)

Thoughts I would like shared with only my family at the time of my funeral:

Thoughts I would like shared with the congregation and others at the time of my funeral:

Other suggestions: