All are welcome….Did you know that you don’t have to come to church services to have a church funeral? It’s true, all are welcome and St John’s provides a good size place to say farewell to a loved one here in Carterton. The clergy are around to support you through this challenging time. It is a privilege to be alongside people as they face death and bereavement. A funeral is used to mark the end of a person’s life here on earth. Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God’s keeping. This can be a small, quiet ceremony or a large occasion in a packed church.
Some deaths will be especially traumatic, distressing or unexpected. The Church has special funerals for children, or after sudden or violent deaths, including suicide. If this is the case, we will talk to you about what is possible. Please don’t be afraid to call us on 01993 846996. Do leave a message and contact number if you get the answer-phone – we try to get back to you very quickly.
Things to think about
Some people find planning the funeral with family and friends helps in their grieving. Perhaps you already know something of what your loved one wanted. You may even have planned the service together some time ago. If you are uncertain we can help you choose suitable readings and music, useful links to suggestions for readings can be found on the Links page. We will want to talk with you to build up a picture of your loved one’s life, this usually takes only one meeting but sometimes it can be more. A member of the clergy will visit, he/she can help you plan the service. Sometimes, friends or family members may wish to give their own tribute or share memories.
The service: Please be aware that there are special restrictions during the pandemic. The funeral director will explain them to you but we can talk you through any worries as well.
The service will follow a clear plan. The focus moves from earth to heaven as the service moves from greeting the mourners, to remembering the one who has died all the while asking for God’s comfort and then committing your loved one into God’s care.
Entry of the coffin
The minister will meet the coffin at the door and lead it in saying some reassuring words from the Bible, for example:
‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies,’ says the Lord (John 11:25).
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38+9)
Welcome and Introduction
After the welcome and first prayer, there may be a hymn or a tribute to the person who has passed away. This can be done by family, friends or myself. You may choose to have symbols of the person’s life placed on or near the coffin as a part of this. Sometimes there is a prayer for forgiveness. It’s quite common to feel we have let a loved one down after they die, that there were things we could have done or should not have done. The prayer for forgiveness can help with these feelings.
Readings and Sermon
The Bible readings focus on God’s care and the hope of eternal life. In the sermon the minister will speak of the Christian hope of life beyond death and relate it to your loved one.
The funeral prayers recall the promise of the resurrection. They ask for God’s presence with those who mourn and give thanks for your loved one’s life. The prayers normally end with the Lord’s Prayer.
Commendation, Farewell and Commital
The minister will say a prayer to commend the person to God’s love and mercy. Then the body is ‘committed’ for burial or cremation.
“We now commit his/her body to the ground; earth to earth , ashes to ashes, dust to dust:
in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life…”
The committal prayer might be said in church, or at the graveside, or in a crematorium as the curtains close around the coffin. It will be a very emotional time, a clear ‘Goodbye’ to your loved one for this life.
In the Christian tradition, the funeral ends with a burial of either the coffin or ashes. If you have chosen a cremation you may bury the ashes in the churchyard, or use the crematorium’s Garden of Remembrance. The ashes may be buried a few days after the funeral with a very brief service.
A Prayer based on Psalm 6
Our eyes, Lord, are wasted with grief; you know we are weary with groaning. As we remember our death in the dark emptiness of the night, have mercy on us and heal us; forgive us and take away our fear through the dying and rising of Jesus your Son. Amen.
Each November on the first Sunday afternoon we offer a special service at which bereaved people can reflect quietly and remember the one they miss. There is the opportunity for silence, prayer, listening to the Bible and some poetry. You are encouraged to light a candle in memory. Tea and cakes follow.
This short video was produced during lockdown but the message is relevant at any time. To watch it, click here