Community of Christ

Memorial and Graveside Ideas

Words of Hope

Graveside Service

1. Words of Gathering

Begin the graveside service with words acknowledging the sadness, yet knowing that the deceased now lives with God and is in the welcoming and loving arms of the Almighty. Include assurance of eternal life: in the dark night of sorrow, the light and life of Jesus has gifted the deceased with a special place prepared for him/her. Sorrow is enfolded by the hope and promise found in the life of Jesus Christ.

2. Sharing Scriptures

Suggestions include: John 11:25, 26; John 14:27; I Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 41:13; I John 4:9; I Corinthians 15:57.

3. Words of Assurance

This should be 5-6 sentences of assurance and hope. Reflect on the scriptures and include words of comfort and assurance to help the family leave their loved one. Affirm that this life prepares us for the next perfect life within God’s realm.

4. Prayer

Pray family and friends as they now go home with an emptiness and loss so fresh and real. Pray for peace, mercy, and the love of God to comfort and sustain them.

5. Expressions of Friendship

The minister should go first to the family and then to others offering a hand or embrace, wishing each God’s love and care.

Celebration of Life

Memorial Service

Scripture Reading: Job 19:25–27

Welcome

Hymn: “I Know Not What the Future Hath”  CCS 246
OR “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”  CCS 247

Introductory Address
The following ideas may be helpful in planning this service:

As God’s children, we create our lives by making daily choices. The Bible states that we are more than God’s creatures. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works. We are like masterpieces. Our sorrow, longings, hopes, and joy add the color to the free verse of our lives.

In II Corinthians 3:3, Paul shows God’s will for us when he describes our lives as “living letters.” As living letters, parables, or stories, our lives are meant to be listened to. Jesus showed us how God used the experiences of people when he taught using the common everyday lives of fishermen, farmers, and widows. Lives are living letters that, when listened to, can move the hearts of masses.

(Name of deceased)’s life is one of God’s masterpieces. He/she is one of God’s poems—a living letter.
We gather here today because we are the lines and verses of his/her poem. Our own stories would be incomplete without recognizing his/her presence. In the same way, his/her poem would not have the same fullness if any of us had not been part of it.

Congregational Address: Questions for the Congregation

Begin with acquaintances, and have each group remain standing until you address the deceased’s immediate family. Add or subtract to the wording, as needed, to personalize this.

Will you who are his/her co-workers, you with whom he/she has spent his/her daily life, please stand? You have encouraged him/her and were rewarded by his/her gift of laughter and presence. Many verses of his/her poem were added due to your exchanging of life stories. Please remain standing. Thank you.

Will his/her church family please rise? You have been the music to which his/her poem has been set. It’s the song of faith that he/she has chosen to sing. You have prayed for each other and spiritually held him/her during times of despair and great need. Thank you.

Will his/her neighbors and friends please stand? You have added the rhythm and rhyme to the verse of his/her life. The cadence flows of his/her love of people, good times, and memory-making moments. The sun has risen and set on the hours you shared. Thank you.

Will the nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles please stand? Your family stories throughout his/her life have punctuated his/her memories. He/she trusted others because of the caring foundation you offered of love, care, and loyalty. Thank you.

Will the grandchildren please stand? You have added sparkling, bright wording to your grandfather’s/grandmother’s life poem. He/she had a different way of looking at the world after you entered it. All days spent with you took him/her into reflection. What joy you gave. Thank you.

Name the brothers and sisters. The childhood pranks, arguments, shared secrets, skinned knees, and laughter wrote verses in primary colors to his/her life that only siblings can create. Think of just one of those moments now and please stand (with your spouses and families).

Name the children, spouse, and ex-spouses—if present and appropriate. As his/her family you became his/her purpose, focus, and joy. As his/her children, you opened his/her eyes and he/she learned unconditional love and sacrifice. (Spouse name) your influence has added tones of depth that sound through his/her poem into eternity. Please stand (with your spouses). Thank you.

Name the parents. (Name of deceased)’s poem began with you, his/her parents. You gave birth and nurtured (name’s) life. As his/her safe place in the world, you have remained his/her foundation and anchor. Please stand. Thank you.

Look around you. See who is here. Pause for about twenty seconds. You are the lines and verses (name) chose to write with his/her days. You are his/her community. You are his/her life story as it is now written in the records of heaven. If (name) could speak to you today, he/she would say, “Thank you for my life.”

Prayer

Hymn: “Great and Marvelous Are Thy Works”  CCS 118
OR “My Life Flows On in Endless Song”  CCS 263

Sharing of Memories
Invite people to share one brief memory in celebration of this life.

Read the Obituary
And/or share a brief talk based on the opening verse in Job.

Hymn: “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”  CCS 92
OR “Give Thanks for Life”  CCS 563

Benediction
The congregation repeats together the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13; 6:10–15 IV).

Embracing Loss and Promise

Memorial Service

1. Prelude - Gathering of Family and Friends

Use hymns and songs that are meaningful to the family of the deceased, perhaps including the favorite hymns of the deceased. If there is not an organ or piano available, recorded music may be used.

2. Creating Life Center

Ask members of the family, before they are seated, to bring items that represent their loved one to the worship center at the front of the sanctuary. These items provide the worship center for the service, a visual comfort and remembrance for the family and friends. Each person could also share the significance of the item, if desired.

3. Words of Welcome and Compassion

Offer words of welcome in God’s name and on behalf of the family. Invite the gathered into God’s arms of peace and compassion. Include God’s loving awareness of the pain and tears and invite all to worship together in loving memory of the deceased.

4. Gathering Prayer

Prayer for the family and friends who have gathered, asking God to bless them with peace and comfort.

5. Prayer Response: "Heal Me, Hands of Jesus"  CCS 546 (Stanza 1)

As a musical response to the prayer, this stanza is sung as a solo.

6. Scripture Reading

Psalm 130: 1-2, 5-6
I Corinthians 15:55-57
Romans 14:7-9
Romans 8:35, 37-39
II Nephi 1:72
Doctrine and Covenants 22:23b    SP 33

Use several or all of the suggested scriptures. These words reflect our human grief and longing.

7. Hymn

"God! When Human Bonds Are Broken"  CCS 236
OR “Give Thanks for Life”  CCS 563

If the service does not include congregational singing, this hymn could be sung as a ministry of music.

8. Selected Readings

Choose readings that are special and meaningful to the family. Use readers from the extended family and friends of the deceased. The resources listed at the end of service may be helpful.

9. Ministry of Music: "In the Bulb There is a Flower”  CCS 561

This hymn could be sung by a quartet or as a solo.

10. Words of Promise and Hope

This is the sermon or homily. Reflect on the scriptures and readings that have been used in the service or select others. Acknowledge the loss and offer comfort, hope and promise of God’s abiding love, the light and life of Jesus, and the promise of life eternal. This is not the time to offer words that will comfort hearts in the days to come. This is not the time to ‘preach’, but to assure the congregation of the Promise and Hope of the message of Jesus and the love of God.

11. Sharing Remembrances

Invite members of the family or friends to share memories of the deceased or ask that they write the memories down to be read aloud by the minister. Also, if there is time, the congregation could be asked to share memories.

12. Hymn

"O God, Our Help in Ages Past"  CCS 16
OR “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”  CCS 11

If the service does not include congregational singing, this hymn could be sung as a ministry of music.

13. Pastoral Prayer

Pray for the family in the days and months ahead; for their healing; for remembered memories; for others in attendance to remember the family in their grief; for God to hold them and bless them with peace, hope, promise, and love.

14. Recessional

Music is provided as the service ends. Be sure to review with the ushers the mechanics of the family leaving and then the congregation.

Note: If asked to do a memorial service for a child, teenager or young adult it is important to use more words and thoughts that acknowledge the loss and their grief. The family and friends may be experiencing deep anger, shock and denial and will need others, especially the minister, to understand their feelings and to offer God’s love and tears in a very deep and abiding way and to find profound words for assuring life eternal.


Resources

Sourcebook of Funerals, Volume 1 and 2; Communication Resources, Inc., Canton, Ohio; ISBN 0-930921-13-5 and 0-930921-18-6.

Psalms of Lament by Ann Weems; Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky; ISBN 0-664-22074-6.

Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; ISBN 0-8028-0294-X.

Deeper Than Tears; Word Publishing, Inc, Dallas, Texas; ISBN 0-8499-1496-5.

Your Sorrow Is My Sorrow by Joyce Rupp; The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, New York; ISBN 0-8245-1566-8.

Love and Remembering

Prelude

Suggest using favorite music of the one being remembered.

We Gather in Community

Welcome to Family and Friends

Scripture Reading: Psalm 46:1–5, 10–11

Congregational Hymn: "Bless Now, O God the Journey”  CCS 559
OR "Lord Jesus, of You I will Sing”  CCS 556

Prayer for our Gathering

Response

We Remember

A Life Remembered

Read the obituary or share a more personal biography of the deceased, according to the wishes of the family.

Ministry of Music: "The Peace of the Earth”  CCS 647
OR "Breathe on Me, Breath of God"   CCS 190     

Community Memories and Feelings

If the family agrees and it’s appropriate, allow opportunity for family and friends to share personal memories of the deceased. You may wish to limit the number who can share, or designate ahead of time who will be speaking. This is also an opportunity to share any reading, poetry, or video clip that the family wishes to use in the memorial service.

We Affirm Faith in God

Congregational Hymn: "The Love of God"  CCS 210
OR "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need"  CCS 247

Scripture Reading: Titus 3:4–7; John 3:16–17

Note: If reconciliation is needed among family members, use II Corinthians 5:17-20 and Ephesians 2:13–22

Prayers of Petition

For family and friends
For the community
For peace and justice in the world

Music Meditation: Instrumental or a solo vocalist

Affirmation of Faith

You may wish to use the following as core ideas: Jesus said, "In the world you have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We don’t know why things happen as they do, for life is a mystery held in God’s hands. We do know that the miracle of life is that God cares for each one of us. God cares about you and is with you throughout your journey. We cannot be alive without experiencing difficulties, disappointments, griefs, and problems but everything that touches our life has passed through the Creator’s hands and is known of God. As a result, Christ can transform your past with healing. Christ can inspire your present with meaning and purpose. Christ can give hope to your future, as you continue in faith to accept what lies ahead and approach others with forgiveness, grace, and the love of Christ.

Congregational Hymn: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"  CCS 11
OR "Go My Children, with My Blessing”  CCS 650

Benediction

Instrumental Response

Recessional of the family, followed by the community

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