Needed beforehand: assurance of eternal life connected with faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the one who paid fully the judgment for our sins and credits us with His righteousness when we trust Him as Savior and Lord. See Romans 3:21-26.
Purposes of this service:
…to look up and seek strength and comfort from our Lord
…to look back and give thanks for a life to be celebrated
…to look inside our own hearts and spirits to find strength and comfort.
DECISIONS ABOUT PARTICIPANTS
1. Director. The one who makes decisions about timing for each and quantity of items. This married partner or child or good friend or pastor should know what the departed and the family want so there is not unnecessary debate or time spent planning.
2. Music: who will sing what song if there is to be a solo … lead worship songs…accompany on instruments.
3. Testimonials of remembrance: who will speak about the life. (Very important to limit to an appropriate number and to hold them to a time limit. People who do not speak a lot do not know what three minutes is, or even five :-). Usually two -four is the maximum for assurance of attention and timing.
4. Main Scripture devotional-homily: usually the pastor or someone accustomed to this. It is good for the departed to have discussed ideas and emphases about this when possible.
5. Scripture reading: Usually one or two about comfort or resurrection hope. Often a good place to have children who can or grandchildren, so they can have a part. It is good for the departed you have selected scripture he or she desires to point to hope and comfort from our Lord.
6. Responsive reading: one that is written using verses especially embraced by the departed one or giving an emphasis… This is a great way to involve the audience.
DECISIONS ABOUT PLACE
1. Location: Think through the advantages of a church setting because of the connection with worship and the cross and the resurrection. Obviously the chapel of a funeral home is easier as to arrangements and the convenience for the funeral director.
2. Burial setting: Some prefer to have the graveside service for family and close friends only, and this can be before the public memorial-celebration of life.
3. Gathering meal: Often there is a fellowship meal after the service to mix people and to help those traveling. This is a good time to have short spontaneous remembrance stories if someone can emcee this in a good way.
1. Time: Why not the best time when the most can be there? Without being so long for the family. The rhythm used to be day of death…then usually one or two days in between…day of calling hours or visitation…funeral-celebration the next day. In recent years because of weather or Covid or distance of family, the time between the death and the service is longer.
2. Video: Often a short video (2-3 minutes) can bring in a family member or special friend who would have been a part of the service, but cannot be present.
3. Honorariums: the funeral director often includes these in his billing — instrumentalists, main speaker, soloist — if not family members. But often this is left to the family.
4. Calling or visiting hours: the evening before or the hour or two before the service, or both? If the visitation time is the evening before, a good but infrequent practice is to have the presiding pastor close that evening with the family and close friends — with a few thoughts, verse(s) of comfort, and closing prayer. This is appropriate and also helps end the evening and send family home for rest.
5. Writing of the obituary: while this is for the newspaper and the website of the presiding funeral director, this can include strong and warm words from the one who has departed, if that is her or his wish. Many times this can be done beforehand so there can be approval.
6. Notifications: A list should be made of who will be notified immediately, and who will make the call or text.
7. Burial place and memorial stone: Should be done beforehand, but in an unexpected death it is an immediate need.
8. Bulletin or handout: Can be planned to be a good memory piece, with careful writing, verses, picture. Can have a written thought that gives assurance and peace if written by the deceased in anticipation of being “absent from the body, present with the Lord.”