The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8) This joy, however, does not make human grief un-Christian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that the one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we join in sorrow and sympathy with those who mourn.
Baptized Christians are properly buried from the Church. The service should be held at a time when the congregation has an opportunity to be present. As far as the Church is concerned there is no difference between having the body present in a coffin or as ashes in an urn. The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall or other suitable covering.
The death of a member of the Church should be reported to the parish office as soon as possible and the family should immediately arrange to meet with the parish clergy. No final plans should be made before this consultation.
A priest on the staff at St. James’ normally presides at the service. It is appropriate that the Bishop, when present, to preside at Holy Communion (if there is to be communion) and pronounce the commendation. Visiting priests, at the invitation of the family and in consultation with the parish clergy, can assist in the celebration. If the family invites a visiting priest to officiate at the service, they are responsible for travel and any other costs involved as well as for an honorarium.
Types of Services
There are three types of services for the departed:
A funeral is the liturgy for the Burial of the Dead with the body present, either in a coffin or as ashes in an urn. It is usually held within a few days of the person’s death.
A graveside service is a brief liturgy that usually follows the funeral directly, but can take place sometime after if the circumstances require it. The same liturgy is used for the casting of ashes or for burial at sea.
A memorial service is a liturgy without either the body or ashes. It can be held anytime from a few days to a few weeks after death. A Homily is preached by a clergyperson. One other person may be invited to make some memorial remarks (for roughly three to five minutes).
All services are either according to The Burial of the Dead as set forth in The Book of Common Prayer, or they are designed to conform to the intent and pattern of it. For more information, contact the Reverend Lori Walton at 510.797.1492.