Funeral and Memorial services are times for comfort and for remembrances of the one you loved and lost. The following is the twentieth of a number of funeral templates written such that you can conduct a meaningful service. It has, at its center, a crucial element – that of a eulogy. A eulogy cannot be a template. It must come from the heart. If you cannot compose a eulogy The Eulogy Writers exists to help.
Life: The Journey #20
CALL Psalm 27:1, 14 – The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait [I say] for the LORD! (NIV)
INVOCATION Dear God, we acknowledge today that life is so frail and easily gone. This very day we mourn the departure from this earthly life of one we have known and loved and traveled with on life’s journey. We have faith in your power and in your love, yet our sense of loss is real. Be with us, we pray, in power and in love. In the midst of life and in the face of death, remind us of the things that are of the ultimate importance: love – memories – faith – and, of course, our spirits which you created for eternity. Give us your peace and your hope in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
SCRIPTUREPsalm 46 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. [Think about that]. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. [Consider what that means]. (NIV)
Romans 8:35, 37-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 15:12-26 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. …If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. …For [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. [And} the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (NIV)
MEDITATIONFrom the time we take our first breath – no, from the time we are conceived in our mother’s womb – to the moment we draw our last breath, we are on a journey. From the moment of conception we are headed somewhere. We have a starting point and we have a destination. Over the course of our lives the destination may change somewhat as we veer in this direction or that direction, but always there IS a destination. Many roads, many detours, many ruts in the path, but invariably we are each heading somewhere.
And on our journey there are three great questions that we might want to ask (although asking them or not on a conscious level never means they are any less important). The first question is: “What IS the destination?” The second question is: “Do you know the way home?” And the third one is, “Who will be your companions?” If a person seeks to understand life at all, the journey motif is a good place to begin… Charles Kuralt, the TV travel fellow, gives us a thousand memorable images in his “On the Road” program. The poet Robert Frost speaks of two roads diverging in a yellow wood, and, because he chose the one less traveled by, that has made all the difference. The inner life guru, Scott Peck, then goes on to write eloquently of “The Road Less Traveled.” And your bookshelves may contain titles like “The Road to Inner Peace,” or “Highway to Happiness,” or “Tracks of a Fellow Struggler.” There is no better image than the image of a journey by which to understand life. For our lives are journeys, with a beginning and a destination…
Even the Bible is filled with the journey image. There is Abraham, called by God to leave his father’s house and to go to a land which he had never seen, there to settle and found a nation. Before he could found a nation, there was a journey. Then there was Moses, leading God’s people out of bondage – on a 40 year journey.
Then, without question, the greatest traveler of the New Testament is the Apostle Paul. He criss-crossed the Mediterranean world, His missionary journeys are classics…
Most of us aren’t so sure about our journeys, though. Paul said in one of his letters, “This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, I press forward toward the goal.” But we don’t always know where we are going. It might be said of us, as someone said of Christopher Columbus, that when he set out, he didn’t know where he was going; when he arrived, he didn’t know where he was (he thought he was near India), and when he got home, he didn’t know where he had been!
_________, I believe had an idea of where he was heading. It wasn’t always a straight path and not always as smooth as you might want, but that’s true of everyone’s journey. With all he/she accomplished in life, it was clear that some of those were conscious goals. Each one met was a mile marker a long the way toward the ultimate destination – whether that final destination is known specifically or not. What ________ gave to life, he/she gave it with grace. His/her efforts were put forth and things happened and life seemed worthwhile and then on to the next goal.
But, no matter how successful a person is in life or how far along their journey they might go, it is imperative that each of us know where home is and how to get back there…
Life becomes SO complicated and complex as we get into it. The family grows, work responsibilities increase, the lifestyle that changes with more affluence makes larger bills and more stresses… but, for the person who is centered – for the one who has a set of principles and values – for the person who has some connection with that which is greater than themselves – for the person who, in one way or another acknowledges his/her reliance on God – home is just a prayer away. We can be miles and miles along on our journey, but if we are somehow able to keep all that our forefathers in faith held dear, close to us, too, we become the overcomers rather than the one who is overcome with life. We can go “home” in the quietness of our own spirits…
_________ may nor may not have known all the details of his/her own journey – maybe didn’t see the destination with crystal clarity (few of us do), but because of the kind of person he/she was, “home” was never far away. He/she was a man/woman of principle and conviction. What he/she said, he/she meant. You could rely on him/her, no matter what.
[The Eulogy goes here]
The answer to the third question is quite clear in _________’s life. Do you remember the third question? It was, “Who will be his/her companions?” The answer, of course, is YOU. You [motion with hand or a nod] and you and you and you have been chosen to be fellow travelers with ________. You’ve had experiences and fun and you’ve worked through problems and faced difficulties together. You’ve been heading, for a while, down the same path, heading in the same direction, pursuing the same destination… And it has been good.
But I want to let you know today that, although _______ chose you and you him/her to travel this life with, you’ve had an unseen companion too… God has been tagging along – leading the way – encouraging – drawing the map – guarding against too many serious pitfalls. _________ nor you ever saw Him, but you – both of you – if your eyes have been open, have seen His handiwork in your lives. And I’ll tell you a secret: That destination you’ve been following all these years that has seemed so vague and so distant and so unattainable at times, is God too…
_________, today, has reached the destination with the help of his/her companions – you and God. And as you, for him/her, grow dimmer, God and eternity grows brighter and more glorious.
In the days ahead, won’t you think about your journey with ________. Think about it all – the good and the bad and the humorous and the tragic – and see if you can’t see God working along the way, for He has always been there – and always will be.
SCRIPTURES Isaiah 43:2-7 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for your life, and [while] peoples in exchange for your... Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made [I will be with him]. (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (NIV)
Add 23rd Psalm if not going to cemetery The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and [then] I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)
PRAYER Holy Father God, On the journey of life that we travel, we thank you for being our guide and our protector and our destination. In times like this – at the end of life and the beginning of eternity for one we have loved, we need your peace and your installation of hope in our spirits. Heal those who mourn here. Comfort them. Give them the assurance of your grace in their lives and help each to continue on their own journeys, acknowledging your presence and seeking your help – in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ.
If not going to cemetery, add: …Now forasmuch as the spirit has departed the body, we do now commit the body of _______ to its final resting place in the earth, as it was in the beginning: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust… But the spirit, which is the true person, we commit into the care of Almighty God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, in whom is the hope of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.] Amen.
Benediction And now may the grace and love of God enfold you in this time of sorrow and give you courage in the days ahead. Amen.
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