In a Christian community there is a strong support for organizing funeral services after death. Christian community believes in the afterlife and that after death eternal peace is achieved. As soon as death occurs, family members and friends work together to organize a funeral service. This service is held for friends and family members to grieve for the deceased.
A funeral service is done as per the religious culture of the deceased. In the United States of America which is home to people belonging to different religions, you can notice diversity in the funeral services. The four most common Christian denominations present in the USA are Catholic, Baptist, Methodist/Wesleyan and people with no denomination. All these religions follow some common funeral customs and rituals. The main purpose of planning a funeral service is to pray for the soul of the deceased. It is also organized to offer support to the family of the deceased.
Usually in the US, it is a custom to hold the funeral about a week after death. The funeral can take place in a local church, at a crematorium, at home, at a funeral home or at a park. In the US, you can notice some common rituals and traditions followed during a funeral service.
Some common customs and funeral traditions are:
- The funeral service begins with an opening statement made by the priest or minister. The opening statement can be a kind of small prayer or readings from the scriptures or a small statement that shows support to the family members. Reading of scripture is a common funeral custom, but it can differ a lot according to different religions.
- The priest or minister also reads out a psalm from the Bible. Usually Psalm 23 is read out which is, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’. Verses from the Old or New Testament are also read.
- The priest also talks about the deceased person. If the person is a religious person, a speech is made reflecting on the person’s life and his role in the Christian church. Here a family member or friend may also read out a poem or a passage from the Bible.
- It is also very common to notice that prayers of thanksgiving, penitence and readiness for death are said during the funeral. Guests attending the service also take part in reading or singing.
- A remembrance is given by a close friend or family member by maintaining silence for a few minutes in order to honor the life of the deceased.
- The funeral service usually ends with closing words given by the minister. The words are “Let us commend (the person’s name) to the mercy of God, our maker and redeemer.”
- The priest then reads a prayer of entrusting and commending. It is then followed by the procession to the cemetery. (if burial is taking place)
At the graveside:
Often the burial is attended only by the family instead of all the attendees at the funeral. At the graveside services, prayer is done by the minister where all family members pray for the soul of the deceased together. Most Christian funerals will be followed by some sort of reception that usually takes place at the house of the deceased or their close family or at the church. It is traditional to bring food to share during this reception and people gathered here share stories and opinions regarding the deceased.
Also it is a common funeral tradition to organize a public memorial service after some time. A memorial service is done to remember the life of the deceased and here a clergyman takes charge of the services, offers prayers and reads a brief message of comfort to the family member. In memorial services eulogies, music and fellowship are also very common.
Some useful resources:
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