Worship Services on the Occasion of Death

The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians' attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief to all. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve. Because it is difficult under emotional stress to plan wisely, we encourage members of the Olivet community to discuss and plan in advance the arrangements which will be necessary at the time of death. These plans should provide for arrangements which are simple, which bear witness to resurrection hope, and in which the Christian community is central. The service on the occasion of death ordinarily should be held in the sanctuary in order to join this service to the community's continuing life and witness to the resurrection. The service is under the direction of the pastor but others may be invited to participate as leaders in the service. This service may be observed on any day. The service begins with scriptural sentences. It is appropriate to include hymns which affirm God's power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints. Scripture shall be read; a sermon proclaimed; and Psalm 23 is typically used as a unison affirmation of faith . Aspects of the life of the one who has died are recalled and prayers of thanksgiving for their life are offered. Prayers are also offered giving thanks to God for life in Jesus Christ and the promise of the gospel, for the comfort of the Holy Spirit upon family members and loved ones who grieve, and for faith and grace for all who are present, concluding with the Lord's Prayer. The service ends by commending the one who has died to the care of the eternal God and sending the people forth with a benediction. This service may be observed before or after the committal of the body or cremated remains where members and friends of the family of the one who has died should gather at the graveside or crematorium for a service of farewell, which is to be conducted with simplicity, dignity, and brevity. This committal service includes readings from Scripture, prayers, words of committal, and a blessing, reflecting the reality of death, entrusting the one who has died to the care of God, and bearing witness to faith in the resurrection from the dead.

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