Guidelines for Planning a Christian Funeral
Jesus said to her, "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.”
As you mourn the death of your loved one you can also take comfort in the wonderful grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who has conquered death by His death and by His rising again has opened to us the way of everlasting life. The following information is offered to assist you in making preparations for the funeral service of your loved one. May the Lord who promises to be with you always, sustain you by His Word and Spirit.
-The Pastors of Immanuel
Physical Death and Our Christian Hope
Jesus Christ our Lord died, was buried and is raised again. All those who die in Christ are buried with Him in certain hope of their own resurrection with Him.
When death occurs the body and the soul that God created are separated. At death, the soul of a Christian is immediately with Jesus Christ in paradise and the Christian’s body is laid to rest in anticipation of the Day of Resurrection. On the Day of our Lord’s return, our redeemed souls and our glorified bodies will be reunited in resurrection victory and the whole creation will be renewed according to God’s perfect design.
Bible Readings that Share our Christian Hope
Psalms 23, 27, 46, 121 John 3:16-21 John 10:27-30
2 Corinthians 1:3,4 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Romans 8:18-30
Romans 8:31-39 Isaiah 41:10 Isaiah 61:1-3
1 Peter 5:6-11 Revelation 7:9-12 Revelation 21:1-7
Additional passages and prayers are found at the end of this article.
Meeting with the Funeral Director
•The funeral director will guide you through many important decisions regarding funeral arrangements.
•If possible one of Immanuel’s pastors will join you for this initial meeting to facilitate the scheduling of the service and to answer any questions you may have about arrangements for the funeral service.
•Burial plots in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery are purchased through the funeral director.
Things to Remember
•Do not feel guilty about keeping costs down. You are not showing greater honor to your loved one by incurring a huge load of debt. The best choices for you and your family don’t have to be the most expensive ones.
•The words you place in the obituary and those on the prayer cards can be an opportunity to bear witness to the faith in Jesus Christ in which your loved one both lived and died.
The Funeral Service
A Christian funeral is a worship service that reflects our great hope in Jesus Christ. During the service, we give thanks to the person who has died as a person whom our Lord created and redeemed. We also receive comfort from God’s Word as we proclaim the death and life of Jesus Christ.
It is the privilege of every member of Immanuel to receive a Christian funeral from the church and burial in the church cemetery. (At the family’s discretion a funeral service may be conducted at the funeral home or graveside.)
•Since the funeral service is God’s opportunity to speak to us, eulogies, personal testimonials, and readings by friends and family are not incorporated into the service. (A time for personal reflections can be provided at the funeral home on the evening prior to the service or at the funeral luncheon.)
•The Order of the Funeral Service follows the liturgical tradition represented in our hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book.
•At the beginning of the service a white pall, representing Holy Baptism, is placed upon the casket as a visible reminder that the deceased and all of the baptized are covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
•The pastors are glad to incorporate special or meaningful Scripture passages in the service. Some families choose the Scripture readings for the funeral service but most families ask the pastor to choose the readings for the service.
•The singing of Christian hymns, especially Easter hymns is appropriate at the Christian funeral. The average funeral service includes three hymns. Again the family may have selections in mind or they may ask the pastor to choose appropriate songs. (Any of the songs in Lutheran Service Book or other approved songbooks of our Synod are fit for use at a Christian funeral. Other songs and hymns must be approved by the pastor.)
•An organist will be provided for the service. Soloists and instrumental music may be arranged by the family. Again, the pastor should approve any songs or music that is not already in common use within our congregation.
•The preacher for the funeral service is generally assigned by the pastors based on a rotating schedule and their availability. Requests for a specific preacher are honored if possible.
•A bulletin for the service will be prepared by the church office.
•A Committal service is conducted at the graveside, weather permitting. The committal service may also be conducted at the church.
•At the request of the family, the church will make preparations for a luncheon to be served following the funeral service. This service is provided by volunteers from the congregation. Please speak to the pastor or call the church office as soon as possible to request this service.
•Although it is difficult, the family is asked to indicate how many people they expect to attend the luncheon.
•Side items and desserts are donated by members of the congregation. The family is billed for the cost of paper supplies, main menu items, and other incidentals.
•At the family’s discretion, a donation may be offered to the hosting organization for their service.
•The pastors are available to assist you with your questions and concerns. If you are in need of pastoral care at any time, please contact the church office.
•Following the death of your loved one, the pastor may suggest that you receive a visit from a Stephen Minister to walk with you during the grieving process. You may also request such a visit.
•Non-members. Members of other congregations of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod may receive Christian burial from Immanuel’s sanctuary with the blessing of their home pastor. At the discretion of the pastor, Christian burial from the funeral home may be offered to non-members who were known to be of a Christian faith and life and who had received ministry from the pastors prior to their death.
John 10:27-28 [Jesus says] “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he died, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will stand upon the earth.
Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Matthew 28:20 [Jesus says] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Romans 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
Lord Jesus, You promise never to leave us or forsake us. Grant me Your comfort in this grievous loss, that entrusting all things to You I may know Your peace which passes human understanding. Amen
Lord Jesus Christ, since it has pleased You to take my dear one to Yourself, I pray that You would help me in my sorrow. Comfort me with the promise of everlasting life which You won for us all. Sustain me day by day through Your grace, and keep me close to Your heart until the day You carry me also to heaven. This I pray in Your holy name. Amen
Almighty and everlasting God, You are the consolation of the sorrowful and the strength of the weak. Hear my prayer, for I am in tribulation and distress, so that in all of my needs I may mark and receive Your abundant help and comfort, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty and most merciful God, You bring us through suffering and death with our Lord Jesus Christ to enter with Him into glory. Grant us grace at all times to acknowledge and accept Your holy and gracious will, to remain in true faith, and to find peace and joy in the resurrection of the dead and the glory of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Immanuel Lutheran Church
800 E Bay Street, Sebewaing, Michigan 48759
www.ilcmi.org + (989) 883-3050
Pastor Michael Boyer