GCI: Funeral Service
This is the standard funeral service for Grace Communion International. However, the details of a funeral service are primarily the decision of the family of the deceased, and therefore it is permissible to alter this standard service within reason to meet the needs of the family.
Music: Music chosen by the family will be played, performed and/or sung by the congregation.
Eulogy: A person or persons chosen by the family may share reflections on the life, family and personal history of the deceased.
Sermon: The sermon should normally be kept under 15 minutes in duration.
In the midst of our grief, may the compassionate love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit give us comfort, hope and peace.
What is this great unknown, this feared and sorrowful loss called death?
Before Jesus raised his beloved friend Lazarus from the dead, he told Lazarus’ sister Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Those are word of great hope and joy. And yet it is also natural and fitting for us to grieve the loss of those we love. Even Jesus, who knew that Lazarus would soon be alive again, joined with his friends in weeping for Lazarus.
Jesus loves us so much that he shares in our humanity. He grieves with us. He weeps with us. And he died like us and was resurrected for us. The apostle Paul tells us that when we die, we are not alone; we die with Jesus. And Paul said that not only do we die with Jesus, we also rise from the dead with Jesus. It is in Jesus’ own death and resurrection that we find our freedom from the bondage of death and all its sorrow.
In the book of Hebrews we read, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Death is no longer a master, holding us all in fear and helplessness. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has made us free. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
Because Jesus lives, death cannot hold us! Our Father created us all to be his beloved children in Jesus Christ. Jesus is our life and our righteousness and has brought us with him into his perfect relationship with the Father.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery,” Paul wrote. “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality…then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’”
Jesus liberated us from the bonds of death. “‘Where, O death, is your victory?’” Paul wrote. “‘Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
With our hearts comforted and strengthened with this truth, let us walk on in the love of Christ. Let us look forward to the day when we will be reunited with our cherished ones in the loving embrace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
[If the deceased was a believer, it is appropriate to speak of his/her faith at this point.]
By faith, __________________(full name) accepted Jesus Christ as his/her personal Savior. He/she knew that his/her life had been taken up into the life of Jesus, that he/she had died in Jesus’ death, been raised in Jesus’ resurrection, and ascended to the Father’s right hand in Jesus’ ascension.
(First name) lived by Paul’s words, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God…. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Christ was _____________(first name)’s life. (Provide here a short summary of the Christian life of the deceased.)
This is the hope and truth by which _________________(first name) lived. This is the hope and truth by which we all may take part in the life our Father has given to every one of us in the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”
From the foundation of the world, the Father planned in Jesus Christ an eternal and joyful future for humanity. May we keep this vision of the future alive in our hearts:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, we thank you and praise you for [name of deceased] and for all he/she has meant to us. Thank you for the peace and comfort of knowing that he/she is safe in your loving hands and that the day is coming when we will be reunited with him/her in the full joy of your salvation at the coming of Christ.
We pray for your special presence, comfort and blessing on [spouse’s name, or other names as appropriate], and all [deceased’s first name] family and friends. We ask all this in Jesus’ name, committing [first name] to you as we await the glory of the resurrection. Amen.
Music: A final piece of music, chosen by the family, may be played/performed.
Benediction: A benediction concludes the service, such as, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Amen.”
If the deceased is to be interred immediately following the service, the following may be added.
As we lay to rest the body of _________________ [full name of deceased], let us remember the words of the apostle Paul, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
May our Lord Jesus Christ and the truth of his promises give us comfort and strength in knowing that [name of deceased] is beloved and safe in the welcoming arms of his/her heavenly Father, who has always known him/her and loved him/her, and has made him/her a new creation in our Savior Jesus Christ through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
Such is the joy of the gospel… and the forgiveness of sins (for we are all sinners, every one)… and the restoration of all things and the new creation… all of which is brought about in joy by the great God, who with undying love created us expressly to be with him forever in the joy, peace and righteousness of Christ.
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, in the certain hope of the resurrection we commend to you our brother/sister [full name of the deceased]. As the Holy Spirit leads us to look with hope for the new heaven and new earth, we pray that you would stand with us in our pain and grief. Wipe our tears and ease our hearts with your unfailing love, for it is in the power of your Son’s resurrection into which [name of the deceased] is raised that we have hope. We give all glory and honor to you in the name of your Son, our Savior, as the Holy Spirit gives us strength. Amen.
 John 11:25. Biblical quotations, unless noted, are from the 2011 edition of the NIV.
 Hebrews 2:14-15.
 1 Corinthians 15:22.
 Colossians 3:1-4.
 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, NRSV.
 Revelation 21:1-4.
 Adapted from 2 Corinthians 13:14.
 Colossians 3:4.