Beyond the Pulpit

August 2021

Greetings and may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.

In light of recent events, it was suggested that I re-issue this article from several years ago.  Please take a few moments to consider this important gift to your family.

For years I have spoken with youth and couples planning their marriages about making plans for the future.  We have all spent time planning for the future.  We plan for school, careers, raising children, retirement, and the list goes on.  But there is one area I find that we often leave out of our plans, at least formally.

No one wants to think about planning their funeral any sooner than they must, but planning your funeral in advance is a responsible way to reduce the stress your loved ones will feel when you pass away.  It will not reduce their grief, but it can help them make decisions about your final arrangements and better assure you that your wishes are being honored.

Just as estate planning and creating a will are responsible actions, planning your final arrangements in advance relieves your loved ones from some of the burden of planning services for you.  It will ease the difficulty of decisions at what will be an already difficult time.  Recording your wishes ahead of time, means your loved ones will not be left to guess what you would have wanted.  Planning now grants you some influence over the elements of your service, including songs, Scripture readings participants, location, and other details that are important to you.

The Directory for Worship in the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order instructs us to plan ahead.  “Because it is difficult under emotional stress to plan wisely, the session should encourage members to discuss and plan in advance the arrangements which will be necessary at the time of death, including decisions about the Christian options of burial, cremation, or donation for medical purposes. These plans should provide for arrangements which are simple, which bear witness to resurrection hope, and in which the Christian community is central.  The session is responsible for establishing general policies concerning the observance of services on the occasion of death.” (W-4.10002)

Having planned many services, guiding families through these difficult decisions, often with disagreements among family members and making some mistakes, I can tell you that it has always been a great gift when instructions were left behind.

To this end, we have created an advanced planning tool to help with these arrangements.  It includes a wide range of information for you to consider, and help you can leave for your loved ones.  We ask that you fill them out and allow us to make a copy and keep it at the church for our records and to help ensure that it is not lost.  Copies of this form are available in the church office, and will shortly be available electronically through the church office or in the website.

This is not a subject that any one of us would like to think about, let alone speak of it.  But it remains an important task for each one of us who wishes to make things a little easier on our loved ones after we have joined the Church Triumphant.

So please give this some consideration, and know that we are always willing to help in any way.

May the peace and blessings of God, the joy of Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit be with you all,  Mitch