A Graveside Service Ritual

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Admonition (adapted from Prudentius, Hymn 10)

To none is it given to behold the celestial kingdom until one has borne earth’s affliction. For this reason, death itself is truly blessed, for its agonies open the gateway to Heaven for the faithful who are led by their sufferings into glory.

When the bonds which unite body and soul are severed, each returns to its source—the soul to its fountain and the body to its dust. But God has so willed in His goodness to destroy death for His servants, and to show them a way that is sure and certain: a way that leads to the body’s resurgence. The body we see here reposing, bereft of its life-giving spirit, will stay in this grave for only a brief season.

This frame was the home of the spirit that flowed from the Father in Heaven. Someday its Maker and Author will remember to seek here the form He once gave and made in His image and likeness. And on a day which God has appointed, He will bring every hope’s fulfillment, and then this grave must surrender this frame to the One for whom it was created.

Scripture (adapted from BCP 491-492)

Brothers and sisters, hear the word of the Lord:

I am the Resurrection and the Life, says the Lord. Whoever has faith in me shall have life, even though he die. 

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last day He will stand upon the earth. After my awakening, He will raise me up; and in my body I shall see God.

I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold Him who is my friend and not a stranger.

For none of us has life in himself. For if we have life we are alive in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord. So, then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 

Hymn

Sing a Hymn such as “Amazing Grace” or “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

Committal

Forasmuch as it has pleased Almighty God, in His wise providence, to remove from this world the soul of the departed,

we now commit the body of ______ to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,

while we look in sure and certain hope for the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ,

at whose coming our corruptible bodies shall be changed and shall be made like unto His glorious body,

and then shall He lead us into his eternal kingdom, and there shall we dwell together forever. 

Brothers and sisters, let us comfort one another with these words. Let us pray.

Prayer (adapted from Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 7.24)

O Lord and Maker of all things! O God our Father and Pilot of men who are Yours! O Lord of life and death! O Judge and Benefactor of our souls! O Maker and Transformer of all things by Your designing Word!

Do now receive our departed loved one who has now become part of the firstfruits of our pilgrimage; s/he who was last has become first.

Yet do receive us also afterwards, in a time when You may be found, having ordered us in the flesh as long as is for our profit; yes, receive us, prepared and not troubled, looking for and not departing from You in our last day.

Fill us with eagerness for that blessed and enduring life which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to whom be glory, world without end. Amen.

Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26)

Beloved friends, this concludes our service of committal; now may the Lord bless you and keep you; may his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.

Step toward the family and offer final condolences and gratitude for the honor of participating in the ceremony.

David Fry
Senior Pastor at the Frankfort Bible Holiness Church. PhD in Systematic Theology (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). MDiv in New Testament Theology (Wesley Biblical Seminary).