Christians are an Easter people and our liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, we too shall be raised. “I am Resurrection and I am life,” says Christ. Therefore, in the Church’s burial service the principal theme is of joyous expectation 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.”
Nonetheless, we also grieve for our dead because the love we have for one another in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted. Jesus wept at the grave of his friend, Lazarus. So, while we rejoice that the one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Savior, our tears are shed in sympathy with those who mourn. Funerals provide opportunities to express the mixture of these feelings.
In the Christian church, a funeral or memorial service for one who has died serves as a communal time for mourning, an opportunity to remember the departed, and a time to proclaim the resurrection promised by Christ. When you have a death in the family, do not try to endure your grief and shock alone; no one expects you to do so. Do not hesitate to call your parish priest immediately, even if it is the middle of the night. Your pastor cannot take away your pain, but they can stand by you with spiritual resources and advice at a time when pain and shock may make it difficult to think clearly, or to make choices.
For the celebration of a funeral, memorial service, or burial, be certain to make an appointment with our priest to begin planning the service right away. It is best to meet with us prior to, or at the same time, you meet with a funeral home. Churches and Funeral homes need to work together to care for your needs and plan the service for your loved one. It is an especially good ideal to take the priest with you when you go to the funeral home in order to avoid miscommunication and unnecessary emotional pain, as all who will be involved in the planning for your loved one’s service will be together and any needed coordination between the two can be done in one meeting.
If you have immediate need, our deep condolences are with you. Funerals at St. John's can be scheduled on Saturdays, or in great need (for example to accommodate active military who wish to attend) on a Wednesday or Sunday afternoon. Please let our priest know immediately when there has been a death as St. John's requires a minimum of four days to prepare for a funeral. Though we understand the desire to move as quickly towards a funeral as possible we do not schedule funerals the week prior to Christmas or anytime between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. We encourage you to surround yourself with your beloved community if death occurs in your family near these Holy seasons and take this time to plan. By delaying the service briefly, to a time when you, and our staff can focus solely on your loved one's funeral, the extra time will ultimately provide you space to grieve and celebrate their life without the added pressure on you of a surrounding holidays and all the stress that can entail.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones is to make decisions about your own funeral service. Providing them with the readings and hymns you love is a good beginning, Deciding on what Rite (I or II or EOW) from the Book of Common Prayer, whether or not to have Military Honors, where you wish to be buried and how, all of these things can give them peace and comfort as they move through the first few days of grief. If you would like to take this step please fill out the following form and bring it into the church office. Our priest can help you with the details and the church will keep a copy in case yours gets lost.
Help with readings, Episcopal services normally include a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (sometimes called the Old Testament), a Psalm, a reading from one of the New Testament Epistles, and a Gospel reading. If the deceased has a funeral plan that includes selected scriptures, please bring that with you to your meeting with the priest (if possible, at least 4 days prior to the funeral). Friends or family members may, if desired, read the selections from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Epistle, lead the psalm and lead the Prayers of the People. (or the church can provide a reader if requested). The Priest, or a Deacon will read the Gospel prior to the sermon. Below are links to the suggested hymns and readings from our Funeral Rites. Old Testament Readings (choose one) Psalms (choose one) New Testament Readings (from the Epistles, or letters, from Paul and other early Church leaders: choose one) The Holy Gospel (choose one)
Musicians in Episcopal Churches have the right of first refusal in regard to providing music for all weddings and funerals in the Parish. The Church Musician may, within their discretion, and in consultation with the Rector, permit other musicians to provide music for these services if such will serve the pastoral aims of the services. St. John’s musician is responsible for determining, by audition or other means, that the music and the ability of an outside musician for such services will be appropriate to the standards and liturgical requirements of the Parish. St. John’s musician receives a customary minimum fee for weddings or funerals when another musician is requested and permitted to play, unless said Musician chooses to waive the fee.
The minimum fee for weddings or funerals, exclusive of any rehearsal with requested soloists, shall be $200.00 to be paid by the family no later than the day of the service. Rehearsals with requested soloists, additional rehearsals of the Parish choir and other extraordinary work performed by Musician in connection with weddings or funerals shall be compensated by the family at the hourly rate of $50.