Religion Magazine

Tailor Made?

By Richardl @richardlittleda

A funeral that fits

Every once in a while, ministers get asked to conduct a funeral for a person they never met. They are not obliged to accept the request, of course – but it offers an opportunity to reach out to a family in a moment of need. Once the request is accepted, the challenge is to make the service as personal and helpful as it can be. The pointers below have been gleaned from my experience, and my many mistakes, over the years:

  • Do ‘hoover up’ as much personal information as you can about the deceased.
  • Don’t feel obliged to repeat it all at the funeral.
  • Do try to find some biblical material which will help.
  • Don’t feel you have to fit it to the person’s background in a contrived way.
  • Do make use of edited highlights of the information you have received from family and friends.
  • Don’t attribute it directly.
  • Do make the funeral in general and the address in particular as personal as you can
  • Don’t claim to know the person when you did not.
  • Do pray, pray and pray again – you need help with this.

Genesis 2 is a useful passage – since most of us find it easy to believe that the image of God was reflected in a person we loved. Psalm 56 is a useful reading too – with its assurance that no grief goes un-noticed by God. A funeral is not a place to evangelise, in my view. However, if we share Spurgeon’s view of the Bible as a lion which simply needs to be released from its cage, then our job is to undo the catch and let an appropriate piece of Scripture do its job on, or after the occasion of the funeral. God’s word will find its way without us leading it by the nose.

Yesterday the passage to which I introduced you last week found its public airing. At a small funeral in the presence of family only, Psalm 23 was heard in French for the funeral of a woman born and raised in France. This particular personal touch seemed to be appreciated by all present. If you click on the image below you can hear it again – and may God bless all who seek to serve Him in this way today.


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