Funeral Readings. Using some special words
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Funeral Readings. A helpful and useful guide.
During a Christian funeral service, there are funeral readings to be made. However, it is still a challenging task for the funeral planner, which in most cases is the church leader collaborating with family and friends, to decide which readings should be read during the funeral.
Through these readings, we find space to express our grief and emotions during the trying moment. However, how do you choose the appropriate funeral readings and through which criteria? You don’t just wake up one day and decide that you will get the readings from anywhere, they have to mean something and also teach something to the mourners.
Below are things you should consider while preparing funeral readings;
1. Do the readings trigger memories of the deceased?
Funeral readings should trigger the memories of a loved one. Every now and then, we have been to funerals where people talked about irrelevant things. However, you should try to get maybe a poem, quote or bible reading that may bring up the memories of the deceased. The funeral is where we really find closure and accept the loss and tributes, honor and celebrations should be about the deceased.
If you are planning a funeral, you are most likely to say something at the funeral service. It could be reading from the bible, a poem or just a way to share the deceased’s memories. However, you should make sure that your readings are encouraging. According to the Bible, Christians are allowed to grieve and mourn the death of a loved one. However, they should do so in the hope that they will be reunited with the Lord. As the bible teachings go on, Christians believe that there is life after death and thus, they should celebrate the life of a loved one but do so in hope.
3. Do the funeral readings respect the religion of the deceased?
As much as you may be a believer or a church leader, you have to make sure that the funeral readings are respectful and honor the beliefs of the deceased. In this case, you should make sure that the family of the deceased, that is if you are a church leader, agrees with Christianity and your beliefs. And again, this should be mutual, if you are leading a funeral of someone and yet you disagree with their faith, it is only respectful to allow them to mourn their beloved in a way they want.
There are two types of funeral readings; religious readings and non-religious readings. In religious funeral readings, you will most likely relate this to the Bible, the death of Jesus Christ among other men of God. They may come in the form of bible verses, poetry, quotations, etc. The Bible offers a variety of passages where Christians can derive their readings. Below are common bible readings that are common in Christian funerals;
12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
In this passage, God admits that we are all mortal and prone to mistakes. He had mercy for the human race by sparing eight people. This could teach us two things; even God grieves the loss of human life. When God realized the damage caused by the floods, He made a covenant to never destroy life through water; God made a promise to deliver the world from evil through Jesus Christ. This could be a good passage at a funeral service whereby you remind people of hope. Even as we mourn, we should have the hope that we shall live eternally after death.
Psalms 23 also offers a great passage for funeral readings.
The passage talks about fear; encouraging believers that indeed the Lord is with us and will protect us from any harm. The Christian view of death may vary from what we all tend to think, that it is cruel and no one deserves it. Christians believe that after death, their sufferings and struggle will end and they will be delivered from the evil. We will rejoice in the Lord forever.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
What does this reading say?
This reading suggests that there is a better place that the Lord has for those who believe in Him. It could be used to encourage mourners and the bereaved that it is okay, that we are all walking the same direction but we shall meet again. Life after death is eternal but while we are on earth, the Lord walks with us, protecting, and now that the deceased is gone, he/she is with the Lord. Again this passage will restore hope for eternal life among the mourners.
You may also want to share a poem expressing your emotions at the funeral.
Most of us want to say how much they will miss the deceased or just need closure. As mentioned earlier, grieving is not easy and it is always advisable to talk about it. Unfortunately most of us don’t like to show how much it hurts, instead, we want to keep it all in and never bring it up.
However, a funeral poem may help you get over the death of a loved one, and it is also a great way to remember someone. While writing or getting a funeral poem, make sure you get the right words that you want to say, words that will express your true feelings. Religious funeral poems focus on giving hope and bringing acceptance among the mourners. They may feature a saying from the bible but more importantly, they emphasize the fact that we will live forever with the Lord.
An example of a religious funeral poem could be;
A life beyond death, what might this be?
Where and how may such life be found?
Whenever what will it mean for me,
with all to whom in love, I’m bound?
Beyond measured distance, mass and time,
how will it be when death has passed?
– above my imagination’s climb,
over horizon’s view outcast.
Somehow together with all, I’ve ever met
of hurt and wrong, of love and beauty fair,
will I feel an eternity of regret?
– or rising peace with laughs and joy to share?
May all in the Reconciler’s embrace
be held with Christ, at one in God by grace.
Copyright © Lisle Ryder
The poet is writing to comfort the mourners, speaking in the voice of the deceased. The poem is trying to hold on to the eternal peace we will all have after death. As per Christian teachings, when we die, it is like we are delivered from the evils of this world. In the Lord’s House, people will rejoice and worship him with no more pain and other earthly vices.
You may also consider using a quotation as part of the funeral readings. There are millions of funeral quotes you can find online, you just have to get the one with your preferred message. Again, these could be to celebrate a life well lived, to comfort mourners, to express your gratitude to God or maybe it is something the deceased used to say. For instance, you may use:
Death to the Christian is the funeral of all his sorrows and evils, and the resurrection, of all his joys. James H Aughey quotes.
If supposedly the deceased was not a staunch Christian, some people prefer to use non-religious readings. However, one should be careful while deciding on the funeral readings to use. The readings should be relevant, sympathetic, comforting and as a way of paying tribute to the deceased.
Some people prefer this to express how much they will miss the deceased, other people will use these readings to share their favorite memories with the deceased. However, these readings will need to be respectful and appropriate, not forgetting from relevant people. A funeral takes place in a very limited amount of time and not everyone has a chance to say something at the service but if you manage to get an opportunity, you should come up with a great tribute.
For instance, this is a great funeral reading;
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love. ”
By Washington Irving.
The writer is trying to communicate the message that grieving or crying at a funeral is not a sign of weakness but of power and love. As mentioned earlier, when we lose someone, we cry and hurt because of the love that we shared. It is okay to grieve the loss of a loved one it is also a way to let go and find peace even after knowing that it shall never be the same again, the deceased will never be with us but it is all God’s plan and will.
As much as we would have wanted some more time, or think we could have saved someone, a funeral reading like the one above may help people release their emotions of anger and doubt.
You may also consider writing a funeral reading in the form of a poem. It doesn’t have to be religious as long as it delivers your preferred message. For example, you may talk about your memories together, what they meant to you or simply talk about your loss. For instance, this is a funeral reading in the form of a poem;
To the living, I am gone
To the sorrowful, I will never return
To the angry, I was cheated
But to the happy, I am at peace
And to the faithful, I have never left.
I cannot speak but I can listen,
I cannot be seen but I can be heard.
So as you stand in a vast forest,
Gazing at the stars,
Remember me in your heart and in your thoughts
The memories of the times we loved
The memories of the time we shared.
For if you always think of me, I will have never gone.
Funeral readings are much more of paying tribute to the deceased. There is no specific rule but make sure your message is respectful and appropriate to serve the purpose of comforting, celebrating life or expressing your feelings.
Losing someone can be painful but we should all remember that eternal life awaits those who believe. This means what the deceased is in a better place, they have gone to be with the Lord and the only thing we can do is celebrate their life, mourn and honor their memories.