Dearly Beloved: We are gathered today to pay our final tribute of respect to that which was mortal of our deceased loved one and friend. To you members of the family who mourn your loss, we especially offer our deep and sincere sympathy. May we share with you the comfort afforded by God’s Word for such a time as this:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1–3).
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25–26).
Invocation (in the minister’s own words or the following):
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we come into this sanctuary of sorrow, realizing our utter dependence upon You. We know You do love us and can turn even the shadow of death into the light of morning. Help us now to wait before You with reverent and submissive hearts.
You are our Refuge and Strength, O God—a very present Help in time of trouble. Grant unto us Your abundant mercy. May those who mourn today find comfort and healing balm in Your sustaining grace. We humbly bring these petitions in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
A hymn or special song
Selections of scripture:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3–9).
(Other passages that might be used are: Matthew 5:3–4, 6, 8; Psalms 27:3–5, 11, 13–14; 46:1–6, 10–11.)
A hymn or special song
* * *
At the Graveside:
When the people have assembled, the minister may read any or all of the following scriptures:
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25–27).
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed…then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52, 54–58).
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13).
The minister shall then read one of the following committal statements:
For a Believer:
Forasmuch as the spirit of our departed loved one has returned to God, who gave it, we therefore tenderly commit his (her) body to the grave in sure trust and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall give to us new bodies like unto His glorious body. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
For a Nonbeliever:
We have come now to commit the body of our departed friend to its kindred dust. The spirit we leave with God, for we know the merciful Judge of all the earth will do right. Let us who remain dedicate ourselves anew to live in the fear and love of God, so that we may obtain an abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom.
For a Child:
In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commit the body of this child to the grave. And as Jesus, during His earthly life, took the children into His arms and blessed them, may He receive this dear one unto himself, for, as He said, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Our Heavenly Father, God of all mercy, we look to You in this moment of sorrow and bereavement. Comfort these dear ones whose hearts are heavy and sad. Will You be with them, sustain and guide them in the days to come. Grant, O Lord, that they may love and serve You and obtain the fullness of Your promises in the world to come.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21).