A Christian funeral is a solemn and celebratory event meant to unite the important people in the life of the deceased. It is where family and friends can mourn a loved one while celebrating his journey home. Most funerals follow a basic sequential pattern, and Christian funerals are no exception to the rule. From music to prayer to eulogy to burial, a Christian service marries the joys of eternal life with the sorrows of saying farewell to a loved one in this world.
The Vigil, Wake
The vigil, also called the wake, is the first introduction for the deceased's family and friends to come together to mourn the loss of a loved one. It is a time to show respect to the bereaved by visiting the deceased and their family as an act of mourning together. It can take place at a funeral home, the home of the deceased or in a church and is often followed by a communal meal. This event is generally somber, low-key and much less ceremonial than the funeral service itself.
Music played at a Christian funeral service may come from a range of styles, from worship to classical to secular to rock. Selection should be based upon the taste preferences of the deceased as well as his denomination's traditions.
Friends and loved ones of the deceased may find enormous comfort from prayer during a Christian funeral service. Whether a pastor or someone close to the deceased leads the prayer, the most important element is that the prayer is relevant and perhaps planned ahead of time to avoid being overwhelmed by the emotion of the event. Some comforting verses that can be used include Ecclesiastes 7:1, "A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth," (NIV) and Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (NIV).
A Christian funeral may have one pastor perform the eulogy, a speech written to praise a person following his death. The funeral may also consist of several speeches from people close to the deceased. In a Christian funeral, it is important to reflect on how the deceased lived his life for God. A pastor may expand on the eulogy and give a short message of a general nature that reflects Christian beliefs on God, death and eternal life.
Following the eulogy, Christian funerals move to the graveside, where there is a reading from scripture, prayers for the bereaved and a chance to say farewell before the coffin is lowered into the ground. These elements can aid in the grieving process and can provide closure for those in mourning.
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