Here is the funeral service I developed for today. I thought I would share it since I was struggling to find simple services as well. Feel free to use it and adapt it to your own needs.
Greeting and Welcome:
On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you for sharing in this time of remembrance of Aaron. (transition)
Opening Scripture: Hear these words of hope from Scripture
- John 11:25-26 says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 says: But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. He’s the first crop of the harvest of those who have died. Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ. Each event will happen in the right order: Christ, the first crop of the harvest,then those who belong to Christ at his coming, and then the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he brings every form of rule, every authority and power to an end. It is necessary for him to rule until he puts all enemies under his feet. Death is the last enemy to be brought to an end,
Let Us Pray:
O God, who gave us birth, you are ever more ready to hear than we are to pray. You know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in asking. Show us now your grace, that as we face the mystery of death we may see the light of eternity. Speak to us once more your solemn message of life and of death. Help us to live as those who are prepared to die. And when our days here are ended, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in Jesus Christ our risen Lord. Amen.
In the Bible, Jesus says in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. In the passage found in Psalm 23:4 it says “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”.
Death is never an easy thing to deal with and or accept, but the reality of it is that it comes. Although we truly are never ready to face this enemy, it finds us at different places and times and areas of our lives. The time of day, or the place and space is known only unto the Creator himself, and I believe that even God does not like death. While it is hard for those of us who remain here, we know that Aaron is no longer in pain or suffering.
On this day, we pause as we commit Aaron into the hands of his God. He was a loving husband, proud father, and a devoted son. We will release his body to the earth, so this isn’t goodbye, it is merely so long for now. We live in hope that we will see Aaron again one day.
We will now hear from family and friends who would like to share their memories of Aaron.
Will you please bow your heads with me in prayer.: Gracious and loving heavenly Father, we pause on this day, and recognize you as creator. We commit our dear friend and brother into your hands, and trust that you will joyfully receive him into your presence. Grant his family peace and comfort in this time of bereavement and allow him the comfort under the shadow of your wings. This is our prayer in your name…Amen.
I wrote this post last year but I have noticed that a number of people have been searching for the meaning of the Advent candles and re-reading this post. I wanted to share it again because I am not sure everyone knows what the candles mean.
So I was watching Special Agent Oso (and not a bad show for the most part) with my daughter the other day, and I was amazed at the misinformation about Advent wreaths and candles that was on the show. It was a good attempt but they were also trying to tie Advent candles with Hanukah menorahs and Kwanzaa candles. As all three things represent different ideas, it was a stretch and there were some liberties taken. Here is some information for those that are curious of the practice of Advent wreaths and the significance of the candles and what they represent.
Many churches and families use an advent wreath to aid in the celebration of Christmas. An advent wreath includes five candles. There are four candles, one for each Sunday leading to Christmas and a fifth candle for Christmas day. The four Sunday candles are usually tapers. There are variations in the coloring of the candles, often there are three purple and one pink candle. Occasionally, all of the candles are purple. The central candle is usually a large white pillar candle.
The purple represents repentance. The pink symbolizes joy. The central candle is called the Christ candle and is not lit until Christmas day. When you light the candle it is customary to read a few verses of scripture that relate to meaning of the candle. Often the person who lights the candle recites a short statement of belief and faith as the candle is lit and then everyone unites in prayer.
- The First Candle (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope): The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle. Some good verses to read during the lighting of this candle are Isaiah 60:1-3 and Matthew 24:44.
- The Second Candle (The Candle of the Way): The second candle shows that Christ is the Way. Christians are lost in sin and Christ is the Light sent into the world to show them the way out of darkness. The second Sunday of Advent always focused on John the Baptist as he called us to repentance to prepare for the coming Messiah. Some good verses to read and reflect upon during the lighting of this candle include John 14:6 and Matthew 3:1-12.
- The Third Candle (The Candle of Joy): The third candle indicates that the only lasting Joy to be found in life on earth is through Christ. All other joy is fleeting and does not last. This is traditionally pink but can also be a purple candle. Some good verses to read during the lighting of the candle include Luke 19: 37-38 and Isaiah 35:10.
- The Fourth Candle (The Candle of Peace): The fourth candle reminds that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people’s hearts. Without Christ there is no peace in this world. Some good verses to read and reflect on during the lighting of the candle include Luke 1: 78b-79 and Isaiah 9:6-7.
- The Fifth Candle (The Christ Candle or Christmas Candle): The fifth candle represents Christ himself who is born to save people from their sins. It is a celebration of the fulfillment of prophecy as represented in Christ’s birth and hope in the final fulfillment when Christ comes again and Christians join him. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning as we celebrate the coming of the light into the world. Consider reading Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:11, and 2 Peter 1:2 as you reflect on the light.
The candles are usually lit on Sunday with a small time of reflection and prayer. Most people are familiar with an Advent wreath in church but they can be made for home and celebrated at home as well. Consider starting today and having an Advent lighting time in your home for the remainder of Advent. Develop your own tradition with your family but most importantly, let’s take back Advent as a time of preparation and reflection and not the season of shopping and preparation.
I grew up thinking our living room was the natural place for a Christmas tree. But after I had grown up it finally dawned on me-a tree is not supposed to be sitting right in the middle of your living room! It’s totally out of place there! Trees belong outside in the yard! In fact, in recent years we decorated one evergreen tree in our front yard with lights, ornaments, and bows. The tree belongs outside-where it can live and grow year round. Cutting a tree down and setting it up inside a house is an out of place location for a tree.
He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said: The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.” John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. -Matthew 3:3-5 (CEB)
That phrase “out of place” fit John the Baptist perfectly. John wore different clothing from everyone else, and he ate very different food from everyone else, and he lived in a very different place than everyone else. Why? Because John was the prophet God sent to prepare the way for His Son. His message was repent! In other words, reverse the direction of your life because the Kingdom of God is at hand.
We too must recognize how often we are going the wrong way in life because of our sinful nature. We often see it pretty clearly in our broken family relationships, our strained friendships, and our divided congregations. Just like an evergreen tree that is cut down and then propped up in a living room and decorated, we are all dying.
John came to show us why we need a Savior. So John dressed differently, and he preached out in the wilderness. And if you wanted to hear what God had to say to you through John, you had to go out of place too. You had to join him in the wilderness. His location teaches us to leave our old way of thinking and our old way of life to meet and travel together with our humble King.
Just as John the Baptist left his home in the hill country of Judea to live in the wilderness, Jesus left His heavenly throne and lived among us. The glorious Son of God, Creator of all, became a human baby and lived out His earthly life among us in poverty and want. He was rejected, suffered, and died that we might find peace and forgiveness. Jesus was out of place on earth so that you and I would be made right for heaven, His home.
As we travel through these final days of Advent, let us recognize our sinful nature and repent. May these final days of Advent be a time of reflection and recognition.
I have been sharing in this CEB Blog tour during Advent but I haven’t really taken the time to share my thoughts on the Common English Bible (CEB). Before I go any farther, I understand the passion that lies behind Bible translations. The church I am currently preaching at loves their King James Bibles and begs me to use it as well. Personally, I find it a difficult version to read and follow (it is written well about an 11th grade reading level FYI). Every Sunday, I get the grumbles when I break open another version of the Bible. I get it. I really do. But I want to share why I like the CEB.
To be honest, I am not even sure how I discovered the CEB. I came across it during an internet search while I was in seminary. I was able to download several books in progress and read them. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I found the translation to be very easy to read and understand. While the CEB has not become my primary translation (I grew to love the NRSV during seminary), it is the other translation I use on a regular basis.
So here is a quick list of reasons why I like the CEB and why I think you should check it out for yourself:
- The translation uses contractions in various places. Let’s be honest – we are lazy about our language and contractions are easier to use at times. I listen to myself speak and when I read sermons (and so spell check) I am amazed at how many I use. It is part of our language and certain parts of the text use them.
- The Human One. I am surprised that there is controversy around this phrase but I love it. I think too often we have failed to fully grasp that Jesus is both human and God. There is an emphasis on the divinity while the humanity is set aside. When we do this, we lose the fact that God understands what it means to be, well, us. Jesus was one of us and has grasped what humanity really means. I know the traditional phrasing is Son of Man but Human one works better: And whoever speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven, not in this age or in the age that is coming. (Matthew 12:32). Below is a video from the CEB explaining some of the reasoning behind the Human One.
- Finally, I appreciate the fact that the CEB is the most recent translation which means it is taking advantage of all recent discoveries in the text, years of understanding, and corrections to previous translations. While it is not perfect (no translation will be), dozens of scholars from many denominations worked together to translate this particular Bible so we have a true ecumenical text that I believe represents the church for what it could be – everyone coming together to share God’s word.
I invite you to explore the CEB for yourself. You can read pieces of it on my blog because it is the translation I usually quote. You can also download a few books for yourself to explore. If you are truly interested in getting a copy for yourself, take the time to make a comment on my blog for a chance to win a few copy of the CEB.
Most importantly, read the Bible every day and study God’s word. That is what is most important.