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A Funeral Service (At the Crematorium)

Gathering Music

Friends, we have come together
because we knew and loved (NNN)
as (mother/father, brother, family, friend, etc.).

It is good that we have come together.
Because we need each other
in empathy and consolation.
And because we need each other in courage and wisdom.

Here we will face (N’s) death, celebrate her/his life,
and show our love and support for (Ns) family.
Today we all are likely to do this with diary, letters, mementoes, conversation and photos.
Today, you her/his family, will gather good memories,
as you have been doing over the past week,
and tell and retell the foundational stories of your family.
For (N’s) life has touched and affected many people.

But we have also come together believing that all human life is valuable.
Because a human life is sacred
in its being born,
in its living,
and also in its dying.

We come, believing that (N) life,
is joined in the eternal continuum of human endeavour
of which we get but a glimpse.

Her/his life was lived in its uniqueness with us
and has now passed into the ultimate community of human existence.

The gifts and graces which she/he offered are never lost to us.
The creativity which she/he brought to us
in her/his life and relationships lies now within our own lives
and travels into the future with us.

Our lives have been changed because we lived with her/him.

Prayer/Silent Reflection

We pray:
Compassionate Spirit of Life whom we name God,
you renew our inner strength,
you touch our imaginations,
you lift us to find another meaning in life’s circumstances.

Embrace us in our uncertainties and lift our hope.
May it be so. Amen.


Good morning/afternoon, my name is (xx).
I am the minister of the (xx).
Other appropriate remarks/introduction

Welcome to this Service of Thanksgiving and Committal for  (NNN).
On behalf of his/her family I thank you for attending
and sharing in this important occasion with them.

Following this service you are invited to join the family
back at (NN) for conversation and refreshments.


We are gathered here this morning by death.  (Ns) death.
Most of the time we can accept death as an abstract principle,
part of the biological chain of generation begetting generation.

But when death comes to a loved family member,
our grief is personal, sharp, and sometimes shrieking.

So we mourn.
For we have suffered a great loss.

Yet death always brings us face to face with life.
Indeed, each of us lives between two eternities.

Each birth causes us to wonder
where the spark of life comes from.
Every death makes us wonder
what of that life survives.

What we have done, and who we have been,
remains part of the wider universe long after we are gone.

None of us knows the whole truth about what lies beyond death.
Christians believe that as we journey between life and death,
we are safe in the hands of an infinitely gracious God.

What we do know and believe is that every human life,
with a mind to think and a heart to love,
is an expression of the creative spirit of God.

Let us affirm and celebrate the life of (N).
The things we would like to remember about the person

(The people’s tributes)

The minister moves to the casket, placing a hand on it
(N), all these things and more you have given to us.
We respect your journey through life, with all its realities.

A Personal Moment
Now let us pause to gather our individual feelings and thoughts
as we remember (N) in silence:
• the person who lived and whose life touched ours, and
• the many and varied ways s/he contributed
to making each of us the person we are.

We are glad (N) lived.
We are glad we knew her/his friendship.
We cherish the memory of
her/his words,
her/his deeds
and her/his character.

Thanks be to God, Source and Ground of Life,
for these gifts we have received in (N).

Special Music/Photographic Tribute

Candle of Thanksgiving
We light this candle in thanksgiving for (N) life.


The Farewell
As we come to the moment of farewell, part of our grief may be regret
for things done or left undone…
words said, or never said…
moments that never happened.

This is the time to lay aside all those regrets
and honour the spirit of (N) her/himself,
who would never want them carried into our future.

And let us receive that gift of generosity from (N),
for any hurt we may have caused her/him.

To love someone is to risk the pain of parting.
Not to love is never to have lived.
The grief that we now experience
is the honouring of our love.
Silent reflection

We hold in our thoughts and hearts those most touched by (Ns) death:
especially (N), (N) and (N)
and all the members of their extended families.

We can not pretend to make amends for your loss.
But we who are here, and those who are absent
but are thinking of you, can give you the continuing promise
that we shall walk quietly beside you,
seeking to understand the depth of your loss.

And giving you encouragement and support to continue living.

May you also find comfort in one another.
May the Spirit of life and hope emerge in your lives in the days ahead.

And may we, who love and care for you,
embody the Spirit in our tenderness, care, and generosity.

Placement of Flowers

The Committal
The spirit of (N) shall not know the blight of mortality:
for it shall live on in the lives
made real by its presence,
and its gracious influence.

Those atoms and molecules which constitute her/his physical frame…
Every one of them originated in the burst of heat and light
which created our galaxy millions of light years ago.

They persisted in bodies both animate and inanimate
that came into being on planet Earth,
and they reached their fulfilment in the generous life-form
and personality of this strong,
courageous, self conscious human being, we called (N).

So reverently, lovingly, trustingly,
we commit her/his body to the elements/ground,
which is welcoming to us at the time of our death.
Ashes to ashes, star dust to star dust.

In the cycle of life and death the earth is replenished
and life is eternally renewed.

Into the freedom of wind and sunshine…
All We let you go.
Into the dance of the stars and the planets…
All We let you go.
Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker…
All We let you go.

May all that we loved about (N) continue to find expression
in the ways we love one another
and face whatever the future holds.

Prayer (Traditional)
We pray:
O Lord, support us by your grace
through all the hours of life’s day;
until the shadows lengthen,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over,
and the evening comes.

Then, Lord, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last.

Parting Words
May we take inspiration from the glimmer of the divine
we see through the lives of others.

Therefore, from this moment on let us live our lives with
a surer faith,
a greater hope, and
a more steadfast love,
so that the Spirit of God will move with us and dwell among us.

Words of Blessing
The peace of this ancient earth to you…
of the high blue heavens which embrace it,
and the winds which blow freely over it.

The peace of splintered light sparkling on gum leaves,
and gentle rain falling on parched earth.

The peace of star-jewelled skies and full-orbed moons,
of breathless dawns and splendid dying suns.

And the peace of the God of Peace to you.  Elizabeth Howie/grpe

Presentation of Green Sprays

Special Music





More Than Ashes

By Edward Searl.  In Memorium.

The fire has consumed

all that is to be consumed.

Left are ashes

and a fragment or two

of heat-tempered bone.

This is not the wo/man

who was.

Because s/he was more

than ashes and fragments,

we honour these remains.

What s/he was –

wife and mother/husband and father,

worker and friend,

lover and doer –

compels us to preserve

his/her memory.

By burying/scattering these ashes and fragments

and speaking words

of memory and affirmation,

we give our breath

to what was

and has dissolved

into eternity


But not forgotten.


S/he was

a wo/man

who lived and loved

and gave us life.

And we will not forget.

We mingle his/her ashes and fragments of bone

with Nature

where his/heer memories are mingled

with Life itself.



 Revd Rex A E Hunt
Web site:

Some of the Resources used in shaping this Liturgy, and the (separate) Interment of Ashes:
Aronson, R. 2008. Living Without God. New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided. Berkeley. Counterpoint.
Galloway, K. (ed). 1996. The Pattern Of Our Days. Liturgies and Resources for Worship. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
Liebelt, P. & N. Nicholls. (ed). 1996. Gentle Rain On Parched Earth. Worship Resources for Rural Situations. Melbourne. JBCE.
McRae-McMahon, D. 2003. Rituals for Life, Love and Loss. Paddington. Jane Curry Publishing.
Seaburg, C. (ed). 1968. Great Occasions. Readings for the Celebration of Birth, Coming-of-age, Marriage, and Death. Boston. Beacon Press.
Searl, E. 2000. In Memoriam. A Guide to Modern Funeral and Memorial Services. Second Edition. Boston. Skinner House Books.
Uniting in Worship.  Leader’s Book. 1988. Melbourne. Uniting Church Press.

Review & Commentary