At a Christian funeral we focus on a number of closely related things:
- we remember with thanksgiving the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, commending to God’s everlasting mercy the person who has died.
- People often regard the committal at the graveside or crematorium as the climax of a funeral. Christians believe otherwise. For Christians, the real climax is the moment when the deceased person’s family, friends and Church commend them in faith to God’s eternal care.
- we celebrate all that was good in their earthly life,
- we express our natural sense of grief and loss,
- we are reminded of our own mortality
Christian funeral services attempt to keep these various aims in balance and to integrate them into an act of worship which reflects our faith, our experience and our feelings. We express our faith in the risen Christ, remember the person who has died, read from the Bible and say appropriate prayers. Suitable hymns or other music may be included, though they do not have to be.
The ritual actions include the carrying of the coffin into the church or other place chosen for the funeral, the optional setting up of appropriate symbols (of which the paschal candle, the Church’s sign of the light of the risen Christ has particular importance) in the vicinity of the coffin or even upon it, and the burial of the remains of the deceased person. See below about the burial of cremated remains.
Special provision can also be made to assist the private reflection and devotion of those who have been bereaved: at home before the funeral, in church on the eve of the funeral, at home after the funeral. When a child or young person dies, the funeral has a different nature and the prayers and readings will reflect this.
Since every funeral is different, the Church in Wales provides a very wide range of services. The family is invited to select the one which appears most appropriate to their own needs.
- service in church and committal at the grave or crematorium,
- bringing of the coffin into church on the night before the funeral service which is followed by committal at the grave or crematorium,
- prayers at home followed by a service in church and committal at the grave or crematorium,
- the entire service and committal taking place at a crematorium or graveside,
- private burial or cremation with a subsequent memorial service,
- the burial of cremated remains in a cemetery or churchyard following a cremation,
- prayers at home after the funeral service, or on the anniversary of a death,
- a special celebration of the Holy Eucharist (known as a Requiem) before, during or at some time after the funeral service.