Living into Dying
The death of a friend, family member, member of the church, or even a stranger is a moment of pastoral ministry that comes with regularity in the life of our congregations. Our response to these moments comes in the central message of our faith: God continues to bring out new life from the loss and devastation of death. The death of a member of the human family (and that includes you) calls for the best of our ministry of compassion and care and the best of our ability to proclaim new life in the face of death.
We are an Easter people. The burial of the dead is an Easter liturgy because as God raises Jesus from the dead, we too shall be raised. Through both the burial rite and the pastoral rituals surrounding death and burial we acknowledge that we, the living, are on this journey toward the heart of the holy and undivided Trinity.
It is a journey we must prepare for. Indeed, there are theologians who claim all religious life is a preparation for the moment we die.
With this service, your liturgy, preaching and coffee hour presentations may focus on end-of-life preparations that are spiritual and transcendent, as well as practical and hands-on.
Consider these topics:
“Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die” addressing why and how to start the conversations about planning for a good death.
“Your Body Before and After Death” with someone from the local funeral home and/or from Hospice.
“Your Stuff” with an attorney who can speak generally to wills, having a power of attorney, estate planning and the best practices for planning for your legacy.
“Your Funeral” which could include a review of the way leadership plans funerals, and a series of short individual meetings with people where simple music or reception requests can be heard and noted.
The practice of anointing people with oil is an ancient practice dating back to biblical times. Its chief functions have been to bring about healing or restoration of health to those that are sick or suffering and it is also used to consecrate or make holy a person or object.
Sacramental use of oil is an outward sign of God's active presence for healing. Anointing with oil may accompany prayers for healing and the laying on of hands when a person is suffering or ill, often when a person is in the hospital or confined otherwise.
As part of our Living into Your Dying series consider offering anointing to anyone who seeks this public gesture of community blessing for healing after Communion. Here is a beautiful video about this ancient practice.