Christians believe that when we die, God promises that we will be with him in a wonderful place where death and pain are gone forever. Whatever the circumstances of death, these words of hope are a great comfort to those who attend a funeral.
When someone dies, although we can’t see the person we love anymore, Christians believe that through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will see that person again. It might be in a very different form, in a very different way, but that is the Christian hope, and that is the message everyone will hear when they come to a Church of England funeral.
Christians believe that each and every person is uniquely made in the image of God. So a Church of England funeral is a good place to give thanks for all that was special about the person you knew and loved.
A Church of England funeral can be held in a place that you choose – whether a church, a crematorium or a green burial ground.
It can also include unique details, whether that is what people wear, the music that is played, readings that are chosen or simply a photograph at the front. Talk to the minister about the person you want to give thanks for and the life you want to celebrate. They will help you work out what is possible.
The prayers at a funeral can also reflect a unique life. They could include prayers for work or a hobby that has been important, for those who have cared during a final illness and for family members by name. They can be led by the vicar or by someone amongst family or friends who is at ease leading prayers in public.
A place to be: sometimes after a funeral all that is needed is a place to sit and think. All over the country churches are open all day, every day, and anyone can walk in and take a few moments in the peace and quiet. It might be in the middle of a busy High Street or at the end of a lane on a country walk, but wherever you are, it’s a place for you.
A place to pray: many churches have small chapels or spaces set aside for personal prayer. These often include a place to light a candle, or even write a short note to leave so others can also pray for you and your needs later that day or week. Simply lighting a candle is an act of prayer. Simply pause for a moment and hold your needs before God.
A place to talk: sometimes a funeral prompts big questions about life and death. The vicar or other minister in your local church is there to listen to your thoughts, and help you make sense of what has happened. There are usually contact details on a noticeboard or in a church newsletter. The Church of England has centuries of experience in thinking about life and death, so it’s a good place to take your questions.
A place to go: Every Sunday, and sometimes in the week, Christians gather together in local churches to give thanks to God, to pray, and to know God’s strength for the week ahead. Everyone is welcome – check out the times of church services near you and go along. You might find new friends as well as the peace and comfort of God’s presence.