The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty 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.”
This joy, however, does not make human grief unChristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn (Book of Common Prayer, p. 507).
Call Your Parish Priest
The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to, and arrangements for the funeral should be made with, the congregation’s priest. Your Rector will stand with you in your grief and share with you the strength of the Christian faith in the face of death.
St. Michael’s Chapel is available so that the body may lie in state in a closed coffin covered with a pall. It is appropriate that the family and friends come together for prayers. This Vigil is usually held in the Chapel the night before the burial.
The Burial Liturgy
Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church. The service should be held at a time when the congregation has the opportunity to be present.
The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a white pall as a symbol of God’s love and mercy and as an expression of our equality in the sight of God.
The service at the church includes The Burial of the Dead and the Commendation. Ordinarily the funeral liturgy is celebrated in the context of the Holy Eucharist. The committal normally takes place at the graveside. However, it may be said in the church when the cemetery is closed for the winter. Either Rite I (p. 469) or Rite II (p. 490) is appropriate.
- Readings from Scripture Possible selections may be found on pages 494 and 495 of The Book of Common Prayer.
- Homily A brief homily may be preached after the Gospel reading. We do not eulogize because the life of a Christian is always in the context of God’s love and mercy, equally held by all God’s children.
- Receiving Holy Communion All the baptized are invited to receive Holy Communion.
- At the Graveside Prayers are offered, earth is cast upon the coffin or the urn in interred. If friends or family have some last words, they are invited to be said at the Committal.
- Flowers Altar flowers and/or the flowering of the Paschal Candle are all that is necessary in the church. A person’s memory can be honored by donations made to appropriate charitable organizations rather than be spent on flowers. A newspaper notice: “Please omit flowers; memorial gifts may be sent to ______” will be sufficient. Excessive displays of flowers are inappropriate.
- Music It is very appropriate to include congregational hymns. Easter music and other songs of praise are most appropriate. The Rector or Music Director are available to help in the selections.
- Oversight The Rector oversees the funeral service. Funeral directors should be notified and given the Rector’s phone number.
The body may be disposed of in ways other than traditional burial. It is commended as good stewardship to donate one’s body or organs for medical teaching or research purposes. Cremation is also acceptable.
St. Michael’s Community House is available for gatherings after the funeral. Fees are $500 for non-members. There is no cost for Parish members; however, donations to St Michael’s are encouraged and gratefully accepted.
Volunteers from the parish coordinate our facilities with your caterer. Please let the Rector know so arrangements can be made.
St. Michael’s Memorial Garden
Arrangements for ashes to be buried in St. Michael’s Memorial Garden can be made with the Rector. A donation of $300 is requested, which will cover the opening of the ground, engraving the nameplate for the Memorial Plaque, and garden care and upkeep. Ashes interred will be buried with appropriate services and clergy.
St. Michael’s can receive contributions to the Book of Remembrance in memory of parishioners. These restricted funds may be designated by the family for a specific use or may be used at the discretion of the Vestry for special needs or projects for the parish.
Funds for an annual floral memorial at the Altar, the Chapel or the Children’s Chapel may also be given. Interest on these restricted funds will be used for flowers on a specific Sunday with acknowledgement made in the Sunday leaflet.
The church has no fee for burial of her members (people who attend and participate in the parish and who pledge monies for its support). However, there is a fee of $500 for non-members. The Organist’s fee is $175. Contributions to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, which is used to assist people in need and for other charitable purposes, is appreciated. An honorarium for the Rector is optional.