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Thread: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    [Though not specifically theology related, I thought this would be the best board for this topic, primarily because of the content and the audience for this forum.]

    Many of you know that I serve as the "funeral chaplain" for our local funeral home. I'm often called in to work with families that are from out of town, or don't have a local church connection or available clergy. I typically serve 1 to 2 families a week in this context.

    A recent conversation has caused me to consider that many people are choosing cremation for economic reasons, without considering the impact on the grief process. In many Direct Cremations, the last time they see their loved one is in the hospital, or possibly a brief viewing of an unembalmed body at the funeral home.

    If one has chosen cremation for economic reasons, they will probably not pay for embalming, which (in most cases) eliminates the possibility of public viewing. Consequently, visiting hours and memorial services are held without the body present... although an urn might often be present.

    The Catholic Church has strongly urged its members to have the funeral services with the body present, with cremation (if chosen) to follow. Protestants seem less likely to go in that direction, and my clientele almost never does that.

    Consequently, I'm concerned that we've short-circuited an important part of the grieving process. Friends and neighbors are deprived the opportunity to see the deceased again. Family from away might not make it prior to the cremation. And while I don't have theological or doctrinal objections to cremation, I am concerned that the growing frequency of Direct Cremations leads to a lack of closure.

    I'm curious what is happening in other parts of the country. Do families gather at the funeral home for a private viewing before the cremation takes place? Does the clergy go with them and offer some prayers or a liturgy of some sort? Are there families that go to the crematory to wait while the cremation takes place? Does their clergy go with them? What might a pre-cremation liturgy look like?

    I have more thoughts on the topic, but would like to hear about your experiences and thoughts first. Thanks (in advance) for participating in a conversation that we tend to shy away from.

    (Direct Cremation refers to the practice of the body going directly from funeral home to crematory without a public viewing. Since the family is not paying for embalming (or possibly not paying for refrigeration services either), the cremation will happen as soon as legally and practically possible, with all services/visiting hours to follow cremation)
    Grace and Peace,

    Jon Twitchell


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    Senior Member David Gerber's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Direct cremations are almost the norm here in Oxford, Michigan. Often, the family is invited to the Crematorium, if they desire, and sometimes I am invited to pray with the family. Often it is the Funeral Director that offers the prayers, if they are even desired or requested.

    I have buried four of my relatives and all of them had donated their bodies to science. I said at one of these services that if I was going to continue to bury them someone had better leave a body. I was able to be with most of them at the time of their death, not so with the other members of the family. You're right, I think, something is missing without a body to view.

    No idea about a cremation liturgy. Good thread. Thank you.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by David Gerber View Post
    Direct cremations are almost the norm here in Oxford, Michigan. Often, the family is invited to the Crematorium, if they desire, and sometimes I am invited to pray with the family. Often it is the Funeral Director that offers the prayers, if they are even desired or requested.
    Any idea how this actually goes? Do they show up with a body, and wait the 2-5 hours for everything to be completed, and then leave with an urn? Does the crematory have a chapel or waiting room? I don't assume that they're actually in with the furnace and mechanical equipment?

    Sorry... lots of awkward questions... but my sense (based on a couple of conversations) is that this simply isn't done (going to the crematory) in my part of the country.

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    Senior Member Eric Frey's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    I don't think cremation vs embalming (or body v no body) makes any liturgical difference. The liturgy ought to be the same. If anything, cremation be a starker contrast ("ashes to ashes...").

    If anything, relating to the closure thing, I think this trend provides a solid impetus for regaining the tradition of Christian funerals. Perhaps I am a bit too judgemental at this point, but the family, a few friends, the body and a pastor in a funeral home parlor is not sufficient for providing the worship that helps us through the times of death.

    Especially in the case where there is no "last viewing" I think it would be tremendously helpful to reassert the church (as opposed to either the funeral home or the crematory) as the proper place for a Christian funeral and a full worship service (as opposed to "a memorial service" or "a celebration of life") as the proper liturgy for a funeral. After all, even with a body, the service is not about either the deceased or their family. It is a worship service.

    All that said, in the cases of which you speak where the person didn't belong to a local congregation for whatever reason, this might be a little irrelevant anyway.

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Eric,

    On the one hand, I agree that the liturgy 'ought' to be the same. The reality is that (at least in my experience) somehow it isn't. Since many direct cremations don't include an immediate graveside (or maybe never include a graveside), there may not be an ideal place for committal prayers. In those cases, I find myself doing what I do for winter funerals--including a pseudo-committal prayer at the conclusion of the service.... at that point, we're not committing a body or remains anywhere... simply committing the spirit to God.

    In an ideal world, I'd like to see cremation process occur like this:

    body is embalmed
    public viewing/visiting hours
    funeral service with some sort of committal prayers
    cremation
    graveside service (a couple of days later) with committal prayers.

    Lacking that, I'd like to have an opportunity to do some sort of committal prayer service with the family prior to cremation, as they say goodbye to the body of their loved one.

    To the families I work with, it seems that the crisis point of finality/closure is not when the urn is placed in the ground--but when the body is last seen (i.e., prior to cremation). I don't have good rituals for that sort of a pre-cremation service, and that's what I'm struggling with.

    Thanks for your input.... and as a church pastor, I completely agree with your sentiment on Church/Christian Funerals. As a funeral home chaplain, I'm obviously trying to make the best of less-than-ideal situations.
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    Jon Twitchell


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    Senior Member David Gerber's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Twitchell View Post
    Any idea how this actually goes? Do they show up with a body, and wait the 2-5 hours for everything to be completed, and then leave with an urn? Does the crematory have a chapel or waiting room? I don't assume that they're actually in with the furnace and mechanical equipment?

    Sorry... lots of awkward questions... but my sense (based on a couple of conversations) is that this simply isn't done (going to the crematory) in my part of the country.
    the family goes right to the retort, the body is then placed in the retort. They do not, however, wait for the job to be finished. The place we use has kept the area in great condition. It is sort of a sterile environment, but it is much more welcoming than I had thought. After the cremation is completed, the cremains are returned to the family at a later time.
    Dave Gerber
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    Senior Member David Gerber's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Jon. we have the Great Lake National Cemetery near us and I have participated in several services for the interment of cremains. It is a full military service. I often give a brief burial ritual then the honor guard folds the flag and presents it to the family with Taps and a 21 gun salute. Actually quite moving.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by David Gerber View Post
    Jon. we have the Great Lake National Cemetery near us and I have participated in several services for the interment of cremains. It is a full military service. I often give a brief burial ritual then the honor guard folds the flag and presents it to the family with Taps and a 21 gun salute. Actually quite moving.
    I've done this as well... for those families that choose an immediate graveside service. I didn't mean to imply that I don't do graveside committals at all.

    But more and more families seem to be opting for a memorial service and then the family takes charge of the remains until a later graveside service... and not like "Springtime burials" where the funeral home is still involved... but a situation where the family opts to either contact the cemetery themselves... or scatter in some particular location.

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    Host Theology Forum Dennis M. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Good thread.

    I have likely done in excess of three hundred funerals, and the most effective in dealing with closure have been cremations. I have been somewhat surprised at that: at least at first. I suspect that if there is no service, and especially no graveside service, it might not be as effective. The first few cremation situations I had were cases where the body was not available for viewing - even for immediate family because in violent deaths there just wasn't a recognizeable body to view.

    The first for me was when a very popular eighteen year old was killed in a head-on collision. Following a huge and massively attended funeral service, the immediate family only participated in the burial, by each shoveling dirt onto the biodegradable container. Within seconds there was the realization - I think by all of us there - that he was dead, and not just missing.

    In the instances of both Linda's parents, following a relatively traditional service, the family gathered at the graveside and each person was given opportunity to literally put a handful of cremains into an open hole in the ground. At the occasion of Linda's mother, every member of the family - children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, physically with bare hands put some of the cremains into the ground. "From the earth you have come, and to the earth you shall return." It is not difficult to pray together in that setting, and to express thanks for love, grace and hope, acknowledging that the deceased is gone.

    One graveside service I did was for a person who had grown up in our community and then late in life moved to another part of the country to be with her family who lived there. When she died, the family asked me to do a graveside service and let them know when it had been completed. I followed their request, but the only ones there were two cemetery workers and me. I have rarely felt the presence of the Lord stronger than at that graveside. Jesus joined us, and at least one of us worshipped Him.

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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Frey View Post
    Especially in the case where there is no "last viewing" I think it would be tremendously helpful to reassert the church (as opposed to either the funeral home or the crematory) as the proper place for a Christian funeral and a full worship service (as opposed to "a memorial service" or "a celebration of life") as the proper liturgy for a funeral. After all, even with a body, the service is not about either the deceased or their family. It is a worship service.
    I'm not sure I fully understand what you are saying here, Eric. Is it impossible to have a worship service when there is a funeral (or wedding, for that matter) where obviously people play a crucial role?

    The last funeral service I attended was about my sister's mother in law. It was indeed a celebration of life, but one can only celebrate anything at all if there is hope that death will indeed been swallowed up in victory, otherwise there is nothing to celebrate at all. I have no idea what was wrong with that service, but perhaps you have different kinds of celebrations in mind?
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    BTW, I'm not so sure any public viewing is so useful. Each and every time I went to see a deceased person, I came back with one impression in my mind: "That wasn't him/her anymore, what did I seek there?" All that is left is an empty shell, the spirit has gone.

    I've never been back to my father's grave since he passed away in 1995. What is there for me to find? Hannie and I sometimes talk about our funerals and I've said that she may do whatever she feels is best, but as for me, if there has to be anything on my grave, it would be Luke 24:5 "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here."
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Deventer View Post
    I'm not sure I fully understand what you are saying here, Eric. Is it impossible to have a worship service when there is a funeral (or wedding, for that matter) where obviously people play a crucial role?

    The last funeral service I attended was about my sister's mother in law. It was indeed a celebration of life, but one can only celebrate anything at all if there is hope that death will indeed been swallowed up in victory, otherwise there is nothing to celebrate at all. I have no idea what was wrong with that service, but perhaps you have different kinds of celebrations in mind?
    I don't dare speak for Eric, but I share similar concerns, so I'll speak for myself.

    I think there has been a tendency to allow funerals to simply be memorial services... people giving eulogies, telling stories, and that's the end. I don't think that a Christian funeral needs to be devoid of eulogies (I've heard that some of the catholic priests around here are really adamant that there only be one eulogy and it be kept to only about 3 minutes or so), but I do think that a Church/Christian funeral should be structured as a worship service--complete with hymns, scripture lessons, and a message. Eulogizing is not inappropriate, but shouldn't replace the focus on God.

    This is difficult for me to assert in my role, although I make a basic assumption that they asked for clergy for a reason... and not simply to be an MC or professional eulogizer. I will always include scripture and prayers, and invite the family to offer suggestions if they like. I don't spend much time sermonizing, but always offer a brief devotional thought--usually one that connects to the life of the deceased and to the scripture lesson I chose.
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Twitchell View Post
    I don't dare speak for Eric, but I share similar concerns, so I'll speak for myself.

    I think there has been a tendency to allow funerals to simply be memorial services... people giving eulogies, telling stories, and that's the end. I don't think that a Christian funeral needs to be devoid of eulogies (I've heard that some of the catholic priests around here are really adamant that there only be one eulogy and it be kept to only about 3 minutes or so), but I do think that a Church/Christian funeral should be structured as a worship service--complete with hymns, scripture lessons, and a message. Eulogizing is not inappropriate, but shouldn't replace the focus on God.
    Ok, that makes sense. Obviously, the focus of every worship service should be God.
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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Perhaps on the issue of viewing the body - we might move more to a tradition where the family views the body shortly after death.

    I'm not a fan of embalming - as Hans mentioned, it often makes the person look unlike themselves - plus its horrible for the environment if they're to be buried.

    If it were up to me, for my own death, I'd have my body thrown in the woods for wild animals or buried in the backyard. To me it just seems like a huge waste to spend the money we do for dead people.

    I absolutely appreciate the need for people to see their loved one's body as a means of closure. It's important. I'm just not sure we need to go through the whole prolonged process that's become common. I understand as people live farther and farther away, time becomes necessary for travel and we have to make accommodations.

    I haven't been a part of as many funerals as the rest of you - I just have come away with a few thoughts. One that its important to see the body, but that an embalmed body rarely looks like the person I remember. Another is that we don't need the body to have a funeral - I always find it out of place to wheel the casket out and head to the cemetary. I almost wonder if a burial/graveside ceremony is better before a funeral, even days before, allowing the funeral to be a real celebration and remembrance - not strictly a farewell.
    ...just my $.02.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Thanks Ryan.

    One of the things I've noticed is that there really are very few norms any more. Even the regional norms have disintegrated as people become more mobile. The discussion came up for me because I learned (for the first time this week), that some families intend to go to the crematory. It seems to me that if the family will go to the crematory and watch the body loaded into the retort, then their clergy ought to be there with them, and prepared to offer some sort of scriptures/liturgy/prayer. Certainly that sort of "goodbye" could be more difficult then a graveside/burial service.

    Because our church is small, and doesn't really have good spaces for wheeling caskets around, we've often opted for burials prior to the funeral service. While it isn't the traditional model, I've felt it has been really healthy and a great way of doing things. Instead of the graveside being the climax or the end of the day, the graveside service, while brief, allows for some closure to come earlier in the day... which allows the service to be more worshipful and celebratory.
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    Senior Member Eric Frey's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Hans, Jon adequately addressed your second question. I will just say a brief word about your first question, realizing full well that you and I will likely not agree (and that is perfectly ok) and that mine is likely a vasly minority opinion on this point (and that is perfectly OK with me too).

    I am one who believes in the importance of having particular things, people, places, times set apart as "sacred." I agree with the opinion that all is sacred, but do not believe this is sufficient cause to dismiss the particular things, people, places and times we consecrate as sacred. I believe our world has lost any functional sense of the sacred, and if we are going to see all of life as sacred we need to have particulars that are sacred to remind us of the universality of sacredness.

    That said, I think churches (the buildings) are such things that need to be held onto as sacred for the purpose of having a visible reminder of God's presence in our world. That the building is physically present reminds us that God is physically present and serves as a place where people go when they need to reconnect with the God who is present everywhere. To me, there is something that sensually helps me to rest in God's peace in a traditional church building that would never happen in a million years in some family's house.

    Simply, we need to use every took at our disposal to help people connect with God and find his rest and peace, especially in times such as death. To me, that includes the church as the place of worship.
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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Frey View Post
    To me, there is something that sensually helps me to rest in God's peace in a traditional church building that would never happen in a million years in some family's house.
    Well said, Eric, this is probably the reason cathedrals become so important to people even when God is not.
    ...just my $.02.

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Frey View Post
    Hans, Jon adequately addressed your second question. I will just say a brief word about your first question, realizing full well that you and I will likely not agree (and that is perfectly ok) and that mine is likely a vasly minority opinion on this point (and that is perfectly OK with me too).

    I am one who believes in the importance of having particular things, people, places, times set apart as "sacred." I agree with the opinion that all is sacred, but do not believe this is sufficient cause to dismiss the particular things, people, places and times we consecrate as sacred. I believe our world has lost any functional sense of the sacred, and if we are going to see all of life as sacred we need to have particulars that are sacred to remind us of the universality of sacredness.

    That said, I think churches (the buildings) are such things that need to be held onto as sacred for the purpose of having a visible reminder of God's presence in our world. That the building is physically present reminds us that God is physically present and serves as a place where people go when they need to reconnect with the God who is present everywhere. To me, there is something that sensually helps me to rest in God's peace in a traditional church building that would never happen in a million years in some family's house.

    Simply, we need to use every took at our disposal to help people connect with God and find his rest and peace, especially in times such as death. To me, that includes the church as the place of worship.
    I'm not so sure that we would disagree at all. I definitely think that the church is the best place for a service (And, I always encourage my parishioners to have a Church funeral).... and have told the funeral directors that our church would always be available if a family wanted.

    But that's generally not the choice that's before me. From a professional standpoint, I really can't directly offer our facility to the family... and the reality is that in most cases, by the time I'm in the equation, they've already reserved and paid for (or deposited) the space in the funeral home chapel. At that point, I can either do what I can to make that service as sacred as possible, or simply to abdicate altogether. I prefer the option that gives me the greatest chance for intersecting with peoples' lives.

    [Edited to add: I just realized that Eric was addressing Hans, not me. I've left my reply intact, simply to help further explain the context of my ministry (and my agreement with Eric on what the ideal ought to be)... but please don't try to make sense out of the fact that this comment is a reply to Eric... since he wasn't addressing me in the first place!]
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Frey View Post
    Simply, we need to use every took at our disposal to help people connect with God and find his rest and peace, especially in times such as death. To me, that includes the church as the place of worship.
    Eric, I would definitely prefer a service in a church. It is there where we are baptised or dedicated, where we celebrate the Lord's supper, where we are reminded each Sunday of the cross and the resurrection (in other words, the love of God), and it should be there where we weep with the weeping and anticipate the restoration of all things.

    I may not be completely on board when it comes to the sacred. I'm more in favour of a Brother Lawrence kind of attitude.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Deventer View Post
    Eric, I would definitely prefer a service in a church. It is there where we are baptised or dedicated, where we celebrate the Lord's supper, where we are reminded each Sunday of the cross and the resurrection (in other words, the love of God), and it should be there where we weep with the weeping and anticipate the restoration of all things.
    It's interesting, because that's virtually the same argument that the Catholics use for having the body present.

    "This is the body once washed in Baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the Bread of Life. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor and embraced the sorrowing. Indeed, the human body is so inextricably associated with the human person that it is hard to think of a human person apart from his or her body. Thus, the Church's reverence and care for the body grows out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God." —Order of Christian Funerals, Appendix ll (1997)

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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Twitchell View Post
    It's interesting, because that's virtually the same argument that the Catholics use for having the body present.
    Which is good. I just don't need to see it again. The casket is enough.
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    Senior Member Jeremy D. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    I appreciate your concerns that began the thread, Jon. Thanks.

    I have a lot of thoughts on death, the grieving process and how it plays into our understanding of life and resurrection. I don't have the time to flesh them all out here right now, but here are some (most of which are already touched upon in some way in this thread):

    - We stink at handling death, both in Western society as a whole and in the Church. We used to be better at it, but this is one of those things that advances in technology have actually hindered. As someone already mentioned, our spreading across the earth makes recognizing the dead one in an appropriate amount of time very difficult. We delay death (medical advances) and then delay the grieving process immediately after death, and this in great part causes us to live confused lives when reality hits (in many deathful ways). I think dealing with death more honestly would enhance our greater lives.
    - ...which I think should be a much quicker process than it is. Death is an interruption of life and anything we try to do to change that is futile.
    - I'd love to return to the practice of burying the saints around our buildings of worship. I think we'd begin to understand the "communion of saints" much better. Can you picture it? Having a funeral in the sanctuary and then carrying the dead one for burial a few yards outside the building where we can continue to have them "participate" in the "life" of the church. This would actually alleviate some of the financial concerns. We've handed too much of this ministry over to an industry.
    - This is another place where Holy Saturday can speak to the now. Easter Sunday is of the "already and not yet," but we live in the things of Holy Saturday.
    - Some of my most efficacious moments as a pastor have been the few situations of death in which I've been able to minister. Cynics will point to the fact that "of course people pay attention to a pastor in times of need." Okay! Whatever it takes for us to recognize the presence of the Lord already among us.

    I haven't settled it in finality yet, but I'm planning on preaching a series on death during the Easter season next year.
    Thanks Dennis M. Scott, Jon Twitchell, Hans Deventer - "thanks" for this post

  23. #23
    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Deventer View Post
    Which is good. I just don't need to see it again. The casket is enough.
    And (I don't know why I didn't think of this before), I'm pretty sure that while the Catholics would have the body present, the casket would also be closed (at least for the funeral service itself).

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    Senior Member Jeremy D. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Twitchell View Post
    And (I don't know why I didn't think of this before), I'm pretty sure that while the Catholics would have the body present, the casket would also be closed (at least for the funeral service itself).
    This has been my (limited) experience.
    Thanks Jon Twitchell - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Glenda Harvey's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    When my nephew died seeing him in the casket was very traumatic for me so when my mother-in-law died I chose not to view her body. However when my mother died, she had been sick for so long seeing her in the casket with make up on and her hair done like she looked when I was little was comforting. My brothers funeral had a casket but not a viewing. The same with my father & father in law. I think the funeral itself is important, the importance of viewing the body depends on the circumstances and the needs of the family.

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    Senior Member Eric Frey's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Two interesting tidbits about RC funerals.

    1) the casket is facing the altar so that it is parallel to the center aisle with feet front and head rear. In this position, the person is in a posture of worshiping with the congregation rather than an object of worship.

    2) At the graveside, the RC custom is that the military honors go first and the priest goes last (in protestant funerals it is the pastor first then the military). When I asked an RC priest why, he simply said, "God always gets the first and the last word."
    Thanks Jon Twitchell - "thanks" for this post

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Funeral Rituals and Liturgy for Cremation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Frey View Post
    Two interesting tidbits about RC funerals.

    1) the casket is facing the altar so that it is parallel to the center aisle with feet front and head rear. In this position, the person is in a posture of worshiping with the congregation rather than an object of worship.

    2) At the graveside, the RC custom is that the military honors go first and the priest goes last (in protestant funerals it is the pastor first then the military). When I asked an RC priest why, he simply said, "God always gets the first and the last word."
    1) I didn't know that. Thanks... that's a great image!

    2) I am pretty direct with my gravesides... I open the service with scripture, offer a committal statement, and a prayer (with the Lord's Prayer). The military go AFTER the Lord's Prayer... but then I conclude the service with a benediction. I've given roughly the same reason as the RC Priest you quoted. Some of the military guys recognize me know, so they know what to expect when I'm there.

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