The funeral of retired Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold was live-streamed on Saturday; I only was able to see a portion of the service, but what I experienced, and the commentary I heard from friends about his selection of scripture, hymns, music, and poetry was just so beautiful and theologically sound.
Here was the proclamation of resurrection and life–the commingled faith and grief that our Gospel reading this Sunday, the raising of Lazarus, holds in its narrative tension.
And it got me to finally start writing down my own funeral instructions.
I have spent decades working with parishioners on their plans and had lots of informal conversations with friends about favorite hymns and intentions, but I’ve never actually written my own plans for my burial. It is time.
(For the curious: Rite II with Holy Eucharist, at Trinity Cathedral, still deciding on the Gospel but the Epistle will be 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; music including the hymns “What wondrous love is this?” and “For all the Saints”; Stanford’s Beati Quorum Via, and the spiritual “Taste and See”; with the Commendation and Committal to the columbarium.)
Clergy are required to remind church members of the need for attending to their earthly affairs, including having a will, making provision for children, and ideally, working with their priest and pastor towards having clear intentions for their burial. Most churches make this fairly easy–they have a form to help guide members in the selection of scripture and music, and it is kept on file in the church office so that it is accessible when needed. Your priest would love to sit down and have a conversation with you about the Episcopal burial service and how to best reflect your identity as a disciple of Jesus to your friends and family at your funeral.
If you, like me, have delayed this planning, I encourage you to take it up, perhaps during the Easter season, when we will be hearing stories of eternal life and resurrection. It is our sure and certain hope.