Sample Funeral, Graveside and Committal Services
by Pastor Mike Cameneti
Today we are gathered together for the graveside service for ____________________. On behalf of the family, I would like to thank all of you for coming today.
Open with prayer:
Death reminds us:
1. A Painful Reminder
Death reminds us that we live in a fallen, imperfect world… we are reminded of mankind’s failings, flaws, and limitations. Anytime we stand at the graveside, we are reminded of the shadow that has been cast over humanity because of Adam’s sin. Paul said in Romans 5:12, that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men…”
The universal nature of mankind’s problem is further expressed in Romans 8 where Paul refers to:
*the sufferings of this present time (vs.18)
*the whole creation being subject to futility (vs. 20)
*creation itself being under the bondage of corruption (vs. 21)
*how that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs
together until now (vs. 22)
But, death doesn’t merely remind us of the universal nature of mankind’s problems. God did not leave us in the valley or under the shadow.
When we know God and the truth of His Scripture, death also brings us...
2. A Precious Realization
We realize that God has a solution... something greater than the painful reminder.
We read earlier that death came into the world through the sin of one man, but that's far from the entire picture.
15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
18 ...through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
We have a precious realization today: that God has acted on our behalf and provided for us a greater answer to our need. This precious realization is why the Psalmist said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil" (Psalm 23:4).
Our realization, and indeed, our proclamation today, is that:
Life has triumphed over death!
Mercy and grace have triumphed over sin!
Justification has triumphed over condemnation!
We have a precious realization today, and that leads us to...
3. A Promised Resurrection
There is a period of time when we are, as the Bible describes, "absent from the body" and "present with the Lord."
But one of the most clearly taught doctrines of Scripture is that of the resurrection.
Paul said, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (Philippians 3:20-21)
1 Corinthians 15:51-54
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
Charles Spurgeon said, “When we shall rise again, we shall be freed from all corruption; no evil tendencies shall remain in us. ‘Without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,’ without even the shadow of a spot which the eye of Omniscience could discover, we shall be as pure as Adam before his fall, as holy as the Immaculate manhood when it first came from the divine hand. We shall be better than Adam, for Adam might sin, but we shall be so established in goodness, in truth, and in righteousness, that we shall not even be tempted again, much less shall we have any fear of falling. We shall stand spotless and faultless at the last great day. Brethren, lift up your heads."
Because of the resurrection, we also have the hope of...
4. A Perpetual Reunion
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Notice how beautiful and how powerful those words are: “thus WE shall always be with the Lord.”
There will be no isolation in heaven… we will not be separated from each other. Heaven, for us, will be a place of perpetual reunion.
My name is _____________________ from _______________ Church.
On behalf of the family, I would like to thank all of you for coming out today.
I’m honored to stand before you to conduct this service.
When someone we love dies unexpectedly, there is a tremendous amount of shock.
When a (husband/wife), (a father/mother), (a brother/sister), (a friend) is suddenly no longer with us, it can trigger very strong reactions, emotions, and questions.
We are here today as the people of God to find comfort in the truth of Scripture, and especially to surround ____________ with our love, our faith, and our prayers.
If I could summarize the purpose of this service, I believe I could do it in these few words:
The great Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Today, we know ____________ is present with the Lord.
When the wife of the great evangelist Charles Finney died, he grieved deeply. Here are his words describing the experience:
My wife was gone! I should never hear her speak again nor see her face! Her children were motherless! What should I do? My brain seemed to reel, as if my mind would swing from its pivot. I rose instantly from my bed exclaiming, “I shall be deranged if I cannot rest in God!” The Lord soon calmed my mind for that night, but still, at times, seasons of sorrow would come over me that were almost overwhelming.
One day I was upon my knees, fellowshipping with God upon the subject, and all at once He seemed to say to me, “You loved your wife?” “Yes,” I said. “Well, did you love her for her own sake or for your sake? Did you love her or yourself? If you loved her for her own sake, why do you sorrow that she is with me? Should not her happiness with me make you rejoice instead of mourn if you loved her for her own sake?”
“Did you love her,” He seemed to say to me, “for my sake? If you loved her for my sake, surely you would not grieve that she is with me. Why do you think of your loss, and lay so much stress up that, instead of thinking of her gain? Can you be sorrowful when she is so joyful and happy? If you loved her for her own sake, would you not rejoice in her joy and be happy in her happiness?”
I can never describe the feelings that came over me when I seemed to be thus addressed. It produced an instantaneous change in the whole state of my mind.
From that moment, sorrow, on account of my loss, was gone forever. I no longer thought of my wife as dead, but as alive, and in the midst of the glories of heaven.
(Memoirs of Charles G. Finney, p. 382)
The reason I like this story is that it vividly portrays all three of these elements: the hurt, the help, and the hope.
- The Hurt
Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)
Jesus suffered in every way we could ever suffer, and He also is sympathetic with our weakness.
No matter how eloquent the words that are spoken today…
No matter how beautiful the music is…
No matter how kind friends are in their expressions of care and concern…
There is still a very genuine and valid sense of sorrow and loss that is experienced when a loved one is no longer with us.
Even when a person has faith, and this family does, there is still a sadness that exists because someone we love is no longer with us – we are no longer able to enjoy their company, their friendship, and their fellowship.
We see, within the pages of the Bible, a compassionate God who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus Himself faced great heartache when His own cousin, John the Baptist, was taken from this earth in the prime of his life. When Jesus heard of John’s death, the Bible says:
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matt. 14:13, NIV)
I believe that Jesus was deeply saddened by this news, and he desired some solitude in which I’m sure he was drawing comfort from His Heavenly Father.
Many times people will hear a story, like the one I read about Charles Finney, and they get the impression that God’s direction to anyone who is grieving is just to “snap out of it” and quit grieving.
But if you listened carefully to the wording, it is evident that there was a season of time involved before the Lord spoke to Finney in the way that he did, and it was then that Finney’s emotions were changed.
Just like there is a healing and recovery process that involves time when our body is wounded or injured, so there is a period of time when we suffer loss.
This is why the writer of Ecclesiastes said:
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
The reason we have the ability to grieve is because we have the ability to give and receive love.
- The Help
In John 14:18, Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
Comfortless means “orphans – one without help.”
It has been said that God never sees His children die; He only sees them come home.
The Word of God is so very clear, that we as believers have received the Holy Spirit; who is our Helper and our comforter in every difficult place of life (John 14:16-18).
Psalm 46 tells us:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most high. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
(13) “But we do not want you to be uniformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as the rest who have no hope.
(14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
(15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
(16) For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
(17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
(18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
(20) “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.”
(21) “Equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” Amen.
17 “ … Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore …”
John 14:19 “Because I live, You shall live also.”
Revelation 14:13, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
I Corinthians 15:51-55
“Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.
O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
________________is not here. He/She stands in the presence of the Lord, the same Jesus who said to the dying man on a cross “...TODAY YOU SHALL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”
The body that lies before us is but the earthly tabernacle, the house in which __________________ lived among us for a time. Tenderly and reverently, we commit that house to the grave,to God who gave it, waiting for the day when both the spirit and the body shall again be united at the coming of the Lord.
I Thessalonians 4:16-18
16 “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
17 “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
18 “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Heavenly Father, we thank You this day for Your precious, eternal, and unchanging Word. We thank You that You are, to us, the Rock of Ages and the great I AM.
In the midst of our natural sorrow, we thank You for Your supernatural comfort and grace.
In the face of death, we thank You for Your gift of eternal life.
In the face of separation, we thank You for the eternal reunion we so eagerly anticipate.
We thank You for ________________’s life here on this earth, and we recognize that the body that lies before us is not ________________, but rather the house in which he /she lived. We acknowledge that __________________ is rejoicing, even now, in Your very presence, enjoying the blessings of Heaven.
Father, we commit his/her body to the earth, from which our bodies were originally created, and we rejoice in the fact that his/her spirit is even now with You, the Father of spirits.
We anticipate the day when spirit and body shall be united again at the coming of the Lord, and we find great comfort in knowing that we shall forever be together with the Lord.
We thank You Father, that in the days, weeks, and months to come, these realities and the abiding presence of Your Spirit will especially strengthen, sustain, and comfort ______________’s friends and family.
IN JESUS’ NAME, AMEN.