12.3 The church funeral

The death of a loved one causes pain and grief for the bereaved. In this situation, they feel the consolation expressed in the loving care of those around them. The funeral service, a divine service with its own specific character, serves to provide comfort and strength for the bereaved. However, the word proclaimed is also directed at the immortal soul of the deceased, which is now commended to the grace of God.

The mourners assembled for the funeral service surround the bereaved to demonstrate their sympathy and impart a feeling of security. Furthermore, last respects are paid to the deceased.

Like all divine services, the funeral service is characterised by the activity of the Holy Spirit. The word awakened by the Spirit conveys divine comfort for both the bereaved and the mourning congregation. This comfort consists primarily of hope in the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead in Christ associated with it, and the future reunion with them (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). The bereaved also find comfort in the certainty of meeting with the departed again in the beyond.

The life of the deceased is usually eulogised in an appropriate manner during the funeral service.

With solemn words, the soulless body of the deceased is surrendered to the earth (Genesis 3: 19). The soul and spirit are commended to the grace and mercy of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, with the blessed reassurance that He may preserve them until the resurrection to eternal life.

Funeral customs, as well as the significance accorded to the funeral service, may vary from country to country. The question as to whether, and in what manner, a body is interred is of no consequence for the resurrection of the deceased.

SUMMARY

The church funeral serves to comfort and strengthen the bereaved. Above all, this comfort is rooted in the hope of the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead in Christ. (12.3)

The soulless body of the deceased is interred, but the soul and spirit are commended to the grace of God. (12.3)

Whether and in what manner a body is interred is of no consequence for the resurrection. (12.3)

See also