Overview of Christian Beliefs and Practices
Christians have a strong belief in the afterlife and much of their lives are directed at achieving eternal peace in Heaven. They believe that Jesus was the son of God and came to earth to teach through his actions and lessons.
These writings, collectively known as the Bible, make up the scriptures, the Old and the New Testaments. According to the New Testament, Jesus sacrificed himself to his enemies and was crucified. This sacrifice was made to pay for the sins of all mankind. A true believer in Jesus and the Christian faith will be forgiven for sins as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice and gain eternal life in Heaven.
From Catholics to Mormons to Lutherans, Christianity has inspired many other religions, each with its own emphasis and interpretation of the Bible. Although these religions hold slightly different beliefs, they follow the same principles and share similar funeral rituals.
Christian funeral services serve the same purpose: to pray for the soul of the deceased and offer comfort and support to the bereaved. The typical Christian funeral includes:
- An opening statement lead by the priest or minister. Depending on the religion, the service may open with a prayer, a statement that shows support to the bereaved, or a combination of both.
- Prayers and hymns are read and sung throughout the funeral. Guests are often encouraged to read or sing along at appropriate times.
- Scripture readings are a common part of most services. Similar to prayer and hymns, the specific readings and their placement in the ceremony differ by religion.
- A remembrance given by a close friend or family member honors the life and gifts of the deceased.
- The service ends with closing words given by the minister. He states that the service is over and leads the procession to the cemetery.
- Graveside services also differ by religion, but all services have some form of words of committal in which the minister either reads a prayer, praises Jesus and prays for the soul of the deceased.
Christian funeral services focus mainly on the deceased’s entry into Heaven and God’s ability to give the grieving strength to cope with their recent loss.