The rites of a Christian burial ceremony are among the most important proceedings involved in celebrating the life of a brother or sister in Christ that has inherited their eternal reward.
In most Christian funeral proceedings, there are four distinct rites that are practiced:
- Eulogy for the departed
- Recitation of selected Scriptures
- Burial ceremony
First, prayers should be offered to the family for God to give them strength to get through the pain.
We are called by God to give thanks in all things. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do in the passing of a loved one.
Second, prayers should be offered for the family for God to help them have the grace in celebrating the life of the deceased loved one during the tough time that a funeral can bring.
The third most important prayer offering is for the family and loved ones to have peace in Jesus Christ in knowing that they will be reunited in resurrected bodies
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (CSB)
A eulogy is a speech that commemorates the life of the deceased loved one during the funeral service.
The eulogy serves as one of the most important aspects in commemorating the life of the deceased and bringing comfort to those in attendance.
These end of life speeches are typically given by a close family member to provide details on the life of the departed through personal memories and the celebration of his or her contributions to the world and accomplishments.
The Reading of God’s Word
The delivery of God’s Word provides the words of life that give us all eternal life who are in Christ.
The Scripture selection should focus on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise of His Second Coming to Earth with His saints. This is what gives us hope as Christ followers.
It can be helpful to note the Gospel of Jesus Christ where one comes to understand who Jesus is and how one can receive eternal salvation and redemption from past sins.
In this final proceeding, a prayer and a few last remarks will be provided by the presiding minister to close out the procession, in more modern Christian families, non-clergy may participate.
The final prayer and final remarks by the minister may be the last thing that the family and loved ones remember and is also one of the paramount aspects of the procession to bring comfort and peace.
The closing remarks should describe the best characteristics of the life that was lived by the departed and how he or she is now in the arms of Jesus Christ.
The final prayer should be one that will plant the seeds of eternity. It should be a prayer that provides thanksgiving to God for the life of the departed and that he or she will be resurrected.
Most importantly, it should emphasize the hope that all will be reunited in Christ again.
After the closing prayer, the family and other close loved ones will place roses on the coffin and the body is lowered into the ground.
Christian Burial Rites and Secular Burial Rites: Key Differences
The central difference between a secular funeral and a Christian funeral is that it is a Christian funeral is a celebration rather than a farewell.
Christ followers know that the departed will be resurrected and given a new eternal and glorified body. We have the promise that we will be reunited in Christ.
The rites of a Christian burial service should focus on the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Second Coming are the central elements of the Gospel that give us eternal life, heavenly peace, and the essence of our hope.
About the Author: Justin Searls
Justin Searls is a Christian professional writer, author, social commentator, ordained minister, and FuneralFide contributing author since 2020. He writes a weekly blog focusing on social issues in the Church and he has been published by multiple newspapers. Justin graduated from the University of Akron Summa Cum Laude honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a focus on history. Justin is happily married and lives with his wife in West Virginia.