Funeral and Memorial services are times for comfort and for remembrances of the one you loved and lost. The following is the seventeenth 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.
The Door: Exit or Entrance? #17
CALL Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; – “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to be born, and a time to die;” (NIV)
INVOCATION O Lord, when we face the day of bidding a final farewell to one who has been a part of our lives for such a long time, it gives us grief. You have made _____ _____ an important part of so many lives. His/her death will leave a gap in the lives of all those who loved him/her and whom he/she loved. In this hour we ask that you would make yourself powerfully present in each life here, giving comfort and healing and peace. May our thoughts turn to memories and to good times and positive experiences with him/her and may those heartfelt memories assure us that that which was so good in him/her is not gone, but implanted in our spirits for as long as we live. Thank you for his/her life. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of it. Thank you, now, for your presence here this day as we grieve and as we remember. Amen.
SCRIPTURE Ecclesiastes 8:6,7 – “For every matter has its time and way, although man's trouble lies heavy upon him. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him what the future holds?” (NIV)
Psalm 144:3,4 – The Psalm writer asked of God, “O Lord, what is man that you take notice of him? Man is but a breath, his days are like a passing shadow.” (NIV)
Psalm 90:1-6; 17 – “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations [again and again we must turn to you]. Before the mountains were brought forth, or even before you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God....You turn man back to the dust, and say, ‘Turn back, O children of men!’ For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; but in the evening it fades and withers... Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish, O God, the work of our hands. Yes, establish the work of our hands.” (NIV)
Psalm 39: 4-7 – “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah [think of that] Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My [very] hope is in you.
MEDITATIONI am always intrigued by signs. Our world is full of them and we are expected to obey what they tell us – go, stop, turn, don't turn, yield... But the one that often makes me stop and think is the one that is over my head as I enter a room. It always says “exit” – yet I have just entered through that very doorway. Until I was inside, that door was an entrance-sometimes it even says so on another sign outside – now, suddenly, it becomes something just the opposite. Which is it really – a door that enters or a door that exits? ...Of course it is both and to think that it is only one or the other severely limits our movements.
But isn’t that what death is? It looks ever so much like an exit from this life. It appears to be the end. But is it? Just like the door we entered through today into this room, it is both. At times death is a welcome exit – an escape from the intolerable sufferings of life. Sometimes it is an exit that surprises us. We knew we would go through it – that our loved ones would go through it – but it shocks and surprises us nonetheless. Sometimes we are nudged toward the exit door and it seems to suddenly swing open and pull us through... and those who are left behind find themselves confused and overwhelmed at the quickness of life's passing.... And in the days that are yet to come they will often discover the unique mystery of life such that you will think about how one minute a person is living, breathing, active – alive – and then, over the course of just sixty seconds, is gone – the life that we saw and experienced and can never quite quantify, has ended and we know that the body we now see is not really the person we knew before – some profound change has occurred. We have a hard time defining it, but there can be no doubt… Life is most certainly more than a heartbeat…more than just brain waves. The “person” has somehow simply left the body... _______ has gone out the exit.
But death is not just an exit. That is only one side of the door. At the same moment one takes his/her leave from one place and passes through the doorway – even deaths door – that door becomes an entrance – an entrance into something that is beyond our wildest dreams. An entrance into a new stage of our lives – so much different than the one from which we have come that authors who have tried to describe it have failed miserably. It is an entrance into the sequel to our earthly lives. It is no longer hampered by the physical. It contains none of the frustrations or pains or limitations of the first one. For the first time ever there is nothing whatsoever that can prevent us from being all that God has created us to be.
Of course, it is fearful. Like entering a room into which you believe there is no one you know... Our timidity comes out. We don’t know what to expect. We literally don’t know what the next step will hold. Like entering an unfamiliar office building with all the strange faces and sounds and unfamiliar corridors... Like the anxiety of presenting a speech to thousands of strangers... – Only to find that you recognize every face and everyone there loves you... The unknown is always fearful but God promises that He will go with us – and that all will be well.
When we are able to recognize dying as an accompanying experience to living, then we can begin to accept our loss as being something that is full of promise and completeness.
There is much talk these days about “dying with dignity”. This has to do with life-prolonging equipment and medicines that keep the body going long after real life is gone. But truly “dying with dignity” has much more to do with one’s spirit and how we live and how we have prepared for our dying.... what kind of inheritance we are preparing to leave behind – not financial or material, but spiritual and in terms of memories and how we have touched the lives of others.
[Insert a Eulogy in Here]
Someone sent me an email story not long ago that somehow seems appropriate on this occasion. It said: A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side of that door." Very quietly and solemnly, the doctor said, “I don't know.” “You don't know? I know you say you are a man of faith and I know people of faith claim to know. Why don’t you know? “No one knows for certain,” said the doctor. Just then there came the sound of the doctor’s dog scratching and whining on the other side of the door, obviously wanting in. The doctor opened the door and the dog a dog sprang into the room and leaped into the doctor’s arms, showing his eagerness and happiness to see his master. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you see what my dog did? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing... I know my Master is there and that is enough.”
And it is true. When we pass through that entrance door, all we need to know is that God awaits us. God is just waiting to hold us in his strong arms and assure us that all the stresses and sufferings and confusions of earthly life is over. Now there is only peace and the love of God and all things good.
The Bible teaches, very clearly, and Jesus demonstrated, that death is not final. It is the entrance to the eternal city. The grave is not to be feared but to be found rather awe inspiring. It is the beginning of the sequel to ones life. And the sequel will far outshine the original.
ENDING SCRIPTURES John 11:25, 26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I believe.” (Jesus would say the same to us today. He would say that He IS the resurrection and the life and that death need not be for all time if we believe – if we trust in Him… Then he would ask us that all important question, just as he asked the woman – “Do you believe this?” And in our response to that question is our hope for eternity.)
Psalm 43 selections – “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior...Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you...every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made...[I will be with him].” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 – ...what is made of flesh and blood cannot share in God's kingdom, and what is mortal cannot possess immortality. Listen to this secret: we shall not all die, but in an instant we shall all be changed, as quickly as the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds. For when it sounds, the dead will be raised immortal beings, and we shall all be changed. For what is mortal must clothe itself with what is immortal; what will die must clothe itself with what cannot die. So when what is mortal has been clothed with what is immortal, and when what will die has been clothed with what cannot die, then the scripture will come true: 'Death is destroyed; victory is complete!' 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?'...So then, my dear brothers, stand firm and steady. (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 Lord, saying good-bye is never easy. Watching a loved one pass into eternity is one of the most difficult things we are ever called to do. So this day we seek your strength. We seek the hope you offer of life everlasting. Would you, O Lord, be with those here today who are hurting and ease their pain. Would you surround them with others who loved ______ and, in their mutual loss, find strength. Assure us, Lord, your presence, fill us with your peace, give us confidence in your love. Teach us to trust always in you. In the name of Christ, Our Lord, we ask these things.
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.
BenedictionAnd now, may the peace of God be with you. May He supply the needs of your lives on this day and then forever. Amen.
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