Planning for the End of Life

Many people feel uneasy talking about, much less making, arrangements concerning their own deaths and funerals. However, planning for these things is a gift to our families and friends. It relieves them of uncertainty and confusion. Also, having the kind of service that you want is a statement about your values and beliefs. It begins to bring healing and hope to those who mourn.

Here are some helpful materials for your planning:

A two-page, tri-fold leaflet Preparing for the End of Life may be viewed and printed out here: Preparing for the End of Life. You may wish to fill out this leaflet and give a copy to your clergy and to your family so that they will know your wishes in the event of your death. Copies are also available in the church building.

A list of suitable hymns for a funeral service is available here: Hymns for Funerals

Suitable readings are listed here: Funeral Readings.

The hymn list and readings may also be viewed below:

HYMNS FOR FUNERALS
Hymn numbers are from The Hymnal 1982

Entrance Hymn:
207             Jesus Christ is risen today
287             For all the saints
296             We know that Christ is raised
388             O worship the King
429             I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath
526             Let saints on earth in concert sing
608             Eternal Father, strong to save
636, 637      How firm a foundation
671             Amazing grace
680             O God, our help in ages past

Metrical Psalms:
645, 646      The King of love (Psalm 23)
663             The Lord my God (Psalm 23)
664              My Shepherd will supply (Psalm 23)
658              As longs the deer (Psalm 42)
687, 688      A mighty fortress (Psalm 46)
680             O God, our help in ages past (Psalm 90)
702             Lord, thou hast searched me (Psalm 139)
These or other psalms could also be sung to a responsorial setting when a
cantor is available.

Offertory:
208             The strife is o’er
293             I sing a song of the saints of God
379             God is Love
455             O love of God
662             Abide with me
685             Rock of ages, cleft for me
690             Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
691             My faith looks up to thee
693             Just as I am, without one plea
Here I am, Lord

Communion:
Any hymn found in the Holy Eucharist section of most hymnals would be appropriate.
305             Come, risen Lord
314             Humbly I adore thee
620             Jerusalem, my happy home
676             There is a balm in Gilead

Recessional Hymn:
356             May choirs of angels lead you
410             Praise my soul, the king of heaven
541             Come, labor on
618             Ye watchers and ye holy ones
623             O what their joy
624             Jerusalem the golden
625             Ye holy angels bright
665             All my hope on God is founded

FUNERAL READINGS

OLD TESTAMENT

Isaiah 25:6-9
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
 of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain
 the shroud that is cast over all peoples, 
the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.
 Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
 and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
 for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day,
 Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. 
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
 let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Isaiah 61:1-3
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
 he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
 to bind up the brokenhearted,
 to proclaim liberty to the captives,
 and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
 and the day of vengeance of our God;
 to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes,
 the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
 the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
 the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
 great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
 “therefore I will hope in him. ” The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
 to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For the Lord will not reject forever. . . . Although he causes grief, he will have compassion 
according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict
 or grieve anyone.

Wisdom 3:1-5, 9
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be utter destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; . . . . Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect.

Job 19:21-27a
Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me! Why do you, like God, pursue me,
never satisfied with my flesh? “O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
 My heart faints within me!

PSALMS

Psalm 42:1-7
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
 so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
 When shall I come and behold
 the face of God?
My tears have been my food
 day and night,
 while people say to me continually,
 “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
 as I pour out my soul:
 how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God,
 with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
 a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
 and why are you disquieted within me?
 Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
 my help and my God.

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
 a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
 the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
 God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
 he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
 see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; 
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, 
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 90:1-12
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
 or ever you had formed the earth and the world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust,
 and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
 like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are consumed by your anger;
 by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
 our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
For all our days pass away under your wrath; our years come to an end like a sigh.
The days of our life are seventy years,
 or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; 
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
 they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger?
 Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, 
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
 he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
 will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
 the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
 nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
 he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
 your going out and your coming in 
from this time on and forevermore.

Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
 to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
 Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
 so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
 and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
 more than those who watch for the morning,
 more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
 For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
 and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
 from all its iniquities.

Psalm 139:1-11
O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You mark out my journeys and my resting place and are acquainted with all my ways
For there is not a word on my tongue but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
You encompass me behind and before and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go then from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in the grave, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say ‘Surely the darkness will cover me and the light around me turn to night,’ even darkness is no darkness with you; the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.

NEW TESTAMENT

From Romans 8
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of he one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

From 1 Corinthians 15
Someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable being puts on imperishability, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? 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. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

From 2 Corinthians 4-5
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

1 John 3:1-2
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Revelation 7:9-17
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 21: 1-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.’

PSALMS

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures: and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul: and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
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 spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me: you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my   life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
 whom shall I fear?
 The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me 
to devour my flesh—my adversaries and foes—they shall stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
 my heart shall not fear;
 though war rise up against me,
 yet I will be confident.
One thing I asked of the Lord,
 that will I seek after:
 to live in the house of the Lord
 all the days of my life, 
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
 and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter 
in the day of trouble;
 he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
 he will set me high on a rock.
Now my head is lifted up
 above my enemies all around me,
 and I will offer in his tent
 sacrifices with shouts of joy; 
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
 be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
 Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, 
you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
 O God of my salvation!
If my father and mother forsake me,
 the Lord will take me up.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
 and lead me on a level path 
because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, 
for false witnesses have risen against me,
 and they are breathing out violence.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord 
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
 be strong, and let your heart take courage;
 wait for the Lord!

Psalm 106:1-5
Praise the Lord!
 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
 for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, 
or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
 help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, 
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
 that I may glory in your heritage.

Psalm 116
I love the Lord, because he has heard
 my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
 the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
 “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
The Lord protects the simple;
 when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest, 
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
 my eyes from tears, 
my feet from stumbling.
I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
 in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
 in your midst, O Jerusalem.
 Praise the Lord!

GOSPEL

John 5:24-27
Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

John 6:37-40
Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

John 10:11-16
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

John 11:21-27
Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

John 14:1-6
Jesus said, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.’