The death of a loved one causes pain, but we are still required to honour and gift them a perfect send-off. Reading the bible acts as a reminder to us, of what or how God expects we believers to carry ourselves even in grieving. We heartily welcome the presence of God in church or anywhere else by indulging in scripture reading.
The word of God is also applied during funerals to honour the family’s or deceased’s spirituality. There are however specific bible verses preferred for a funeral set up.
The form of funeral service undertaken usually determines the bible readings selected. The family decides, with the help of the priest in charge, the type of service preferred, to ensure the church’s traditions are also incorporated.
The types of funeral service common are listed below,
The deceased’s vigil, usually inclusive of receiving their body in the church.
A funeral mass or liturgy outside the funeral mass
A committal rite, either at the crematorium or cemetery
And a rite of burying ashes following a crematorium committal.
Bible readings for funerals are very vital as they have some encouragement on death matters, strengthen one’s faith when grieving, and bring peace and comfort to those left behind.
How many scripture verses are required for a funeral service?
There will be at least one bible reading during a funeral service, and it will be a gospel reading where the decision for the scripture reading settles on only one bible verse.
Most funeral services include 2 or 3 bible readings. Where there are 2 Bible readings, the first one is usually picked from the Old Testament and the second one consequently from the New Testament. Where there are 3 readings, the first reading is picked from the Old Testament, the second from a New Testament, and the last one from a Gospel book.
The Gospel reading has to be done by the overseeing priest, but the second and or third reading can be embraced by the family members or someone chosen by the priest. For that matter, the people selected for this role should be told in advance and preparations were done to ensure the reading is audibly and clearly done.
The 3 sequential bible readings for funerals is applicable for both catholic bible readings for funerals and Anglican bible readings for funerals.
The Holy Bookshop has a collection of both New Testament bible readings for funerals and Old Testament Bible readings for funeral
Based on one’s relation to the deceased as shown below,
Bible readings for a funeral for mother
Bible readings for a funeral for father
Bible readings for a funeral for daughter
Bible readings for a funeral for the son
Bible readings for a funeral for the brother
Bible readings for a funeral for sister
Bible readings for a funeral for grandma
Bible readings for a funeral for grandpa
Bible readings for a funeral for a cousin
Bible readings for a funeral for an aunt
Bible readings for a funeral for the uncle
Bible readings for a funeral for nephew
Bible readings for a funeral for niece
Bible readings for a funeral for a friend
Bible readings for a funeral for a colleague
Long bible readings for funerals vs short Bible readings for funerals.
Of the Bible readings, there are long and shot readings. Not to say that they affect the message being conveyed, but you can choose either based on where they will be used- for instance, a death notice is paid for as per the number of words used or space occupied, therefore you might want to consider a shorter Bible reading so as not to incur too many costs.
Where one has a child in line up to read a verse at a funeral, a shorter reading might also be the ultimate choice so that they are done before they start erring or getting tensed.
The Bible readings can be applied to various aspects of a funeral as indicated herein.
On funeral programs- there is the power of unspoken words in attaching bible verse to a funeral program. It brings a message other than just covering the sequence of events during a funeral service. A person can use either a reading from the Old Testament, New Testament, gospel or either of the two or all of them.
On obituaries and death notices- attaching a bible reading to a loved one’s obituary or death notice is a sign of respect of one’s faith even when in tough situations like grieving. It is showing love to the deceased through any possible channel, a sure fit way of giving them a nice send-off.
On funeral cards- these are usually used to invite those who are required to attend a funeral. It will speak the message one wishes to convey regarding the whole sombre situation without necessarily having to dig for the appropriate words.
On gravestones- use of bible readings on gravestones is a way of uniting the deceased’s spirit to that of God. It helps in beseeching God to accept the soul of the deceased and to ensure they have a good afterlife as is believed in Christian faith.
On funeral flowers- funeral flowers displayed either on a casket or on a gravesite can both be used together with bible readings as a gesture of one’s love and not only for the beauty of the flowers but also to portray a message of comfort and consolation.
On thank you notes- during grief, it is never easy to express what we feel through appropriate words. We are sort of incapacitated to think. A simple thank you is easy to write following the support received during such hard times, this accompanied by a funeral verse speaks our innermost gratitude.
On condolence cards and sympathy notes- consoling or comforting the bereaved is never easy. Sometimes you pull back for fear of saying something that might trigger their emotions.
On eulogies and funeral speech- you can eulogize a loved one by attaching their favourite Bible readings. This creates a clear picture of their Christianity personality. But you can also attach a verse as a way of portraying your thoughts about the deceased and how their demise has affected you in the eulogy or funeral speech.
As a direct dedication to the deceased- there are times when we wish to still tell the deceased how we feel. Their death leaves us with gaps that only talking to them will help fill. One can resort to the bible for appropriate readings for this role.
The Holy Bookshop has listed the top most inspiring and comforting bible readings for funerals to help you in making your search less time-consuming. But still, you need a short step to step guide in selecting the ones you will use for the funeral service.
Consider the message. The Bible readings each convey a different message. At this point, there are two things to look at,
The audience- the mourners are already going through a rough time owing to the pain of losing a loved one, what they probably need is an assurance that things will be fine, and some words of comfort that they are not alone and that there is someone who feels their pain.
The deceased- they were probably very spiritual and might have had some favourite passages from the bible that can be used, or they had some unique personality which you wish to capture using the selected Bible readings for a funeral.
Sometimes it might be difficult to find a verse that combines all the aspects mentioned above on one read. Consider selecting different verses for use and break them to first, second and third reading, by the end of which you would have satisfied the deceased’s wish, the audience’s need, and deliver God’s word too.
Consider the type of service. Well, there are different types of service which calls for different Bible readings for funerals much as the messages may be similar. What is preferred for a Catholic funeral may be slightly different from what the Anglican funeral dictates? You should, therefore, consult with the church to ascertain whether your selected Bible reading is in line with what is needed.
If anything, probably one should consult their local church first, to know the kind of readings preferred to avoid indulging in a search only for you to have to make changes in thereafter.
There are places where you will even find there is a guideline on the readings during the church service, those preferred for use in the deceased’s home, and even those for the graveside.
Consider the person to do the reading. It is common to have a family decide on varying people to do the bible readings for funerals. There is no problem with the reading for the priest in charge of the service. But take note where there is a child in line to do the reading. Find out whether they are audible, courageous and able to face such a task if not, don’t eliminate them, but instead bend and go for a simple Bible reading which they will be able to tackle with ease.
It feels bad for a child to be denied a chance to participate in the funeral of a dear one just because they are considered young, give them something that suits their age, even if it be a verse with just a few words.
Consider the time the reading will take. A funeral service, be it at the morgue, church, home of the deceased, crematorium, or by the graveside, usually works within a given time frame to ensure everything is catered for. The reading should be precise and to the point, not too long to make the audience loo track of what you are trying to convey.
Having selected the appropriate bible reading for a funeral, the last thing left to do is to ensure that it is well executed.
Let the responsible person know. The family decides together who to do which reading prior to the scriptures selection or vice versa. Let the concerned person know the specific verse selected for them, and the bible version where applicable- most people prefer to have their readings from a similar bible version unless otherwise, to ensure uniformity in a flow of words, as bibles are written in varying types of English.
Practice reading the verse. The first thing, of course, is first silently going through the scripture to grasp what it is about. It is from understanding that you will be able to give your Bible reading the appropriate tone.
You can then proceed and start reading it out loud. Do it another round standing in front of the mirror like you were doing it for the actual audience. Make pauses in between giving time for facial interaction with the audience, which is very vital, to ensure that the reading is kind of conversational and not some sort of lecture. Making pauses and eye contacts also create time for people to digest the message you are conveying to them.
For your final read, you could request the presence of someone so that they give you an opinion of how you are doing the reading. You will be able to make any adjustments if there are any, based on their suggestions.
What to carry during the reading. The bible for starters, unless the scripture has been memorized, or you can probably write it down on a small piece of paper or print it out. You can carry with you a bottle of water and a handkerchief, being that it is a funeral, you might get overwhelmed by emotions requiring you to use the said.
Just to note, it is good to have a backup of someone who can also do the reading in case the person mandated with this role is incapacitated on a required day owing to nature if grieving.