Opening prayer for funeral

Losing a loved one can bring about an array of emotions and feelings. Making it through the grieving process starts with the memorial and burial as you carry onward to the next stages of coping. To ease the pain, here is a look at some good opening prayers for funerals to get you started.

Prayers #1

Good afternoon everybody. May I ask that we all bow our heads in prayer.

Our Lord we acknowledge your presence here, and come before your throne this afternoon as friends and family of Adrian Elm. We are here because we love him and miss him and we want to cherish our memories of him, we want to honor his life and honor him and support one another as we grieve his passing – a passing from life here with us to everlasting life there with you O Lord.

God, thank you for Adrian! You formed him, you knew him, you walked with him through 80 years, and even now we have confidence that he is in your presence.

Thank you that you are a God of mercy, who promises to comfort us, particularly when we lose our loved ones, and so in these moments now, and in the weeks and months ahead, please bring comfort and mercy to us as we remember, and share fondly all that Adrian was to us.

In the mighty and holy name of Jesus we pray.

Prayers #2

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die:
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to break down, and a time to build up:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh:
A time to mourn and a time to dance:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Prayers #3

Our father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever.

Prayers #4

The Lord is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Prayers #5

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayers #6

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

Prayers #7

Now my soul is deeply troubled. Shall I pray, ‘Father save me from what lies ahead?’ But that is the very reason why I came! Father, bring glory and honor to your name.

Prayers #8

We are grieving over the unexpected loss of our brother. Lord, just last Sunday he was telling me how excited he was to be part of this church. He was on fire for You, Father. We all saw how joy radiated from him. His love for You was unquenchable and we are mourning the loss of this wonderful man. Father, be with his wife and young children. Raise this congregation up to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this family. Father, love on John’s children. Wrap Your arms around them, for there will be a day when they see him again in Heaven. Father, speak tenderly to his wife and comfort her in this unbearable time of life. Father, this is a very tragic event and yet we know that nothing surprises You. So, in faith we continue to ask and seek Your will in this most desperate time of need. Father, shower this family with love and affection as they grieve through this painful time. We love You, and thank You for Jesus! Amen

Prayers #9

God be in my head,
and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes,
and in my looking;
God be in my mouth,
and in my speaking;
God be in my heart,
and in my thinking;
God be at my end,
and at my departing.

Prayers #10

Lord, in weakness or in strength
we bear your image.
We pray for those we love
who now live in a land of shadows,
where the light of memory is dimmed,
where the familiar lies unknown,
where the beloved become as strangers.
Hold them in your everlasting arms,
and grant to those who care
a strength to serve,
a patience to persevere,
a love to last
and a peace that passes human understanding.
Hold us in your everlasting arms,
today and for all eternity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Check out this one memorial service with a selection of opening prayers that are recited and exchanged.

Opening Prayer

 Gathering Song         Quietly Peacefully (Dvorak adapt. Lori True)

All sing: Quietly peacefully may they rest in you
Quietly peacefully lead them back to you
Quietly peacefully may they rest in you
Quietly peacefully bring them home to you

God has come to carry you to your dwelling place
Do not fear, Christ bids you come; meet God face to face.

Quietly peacefully may they rest in you
Quietly peacefully lead them back to you
Quietly peacefully may they rest in you
Quietly peacefully bring them home to you

Lay your burdens, calm your fears; you are not alone.
Loving arms welcome you safely to God’s home.

Quietly peacefully may they rest in you
Quietly peacefully lead them back to you
Quietly peacefully may they rest in you
Quietly peacefully bring them home to you

Opening Prayer        Let us pray,
All say:  God of tenderness and peace,
Be with us this morning as we gather to reflect on our calling to be ministers of comfort and support in our communities.
Fill us with hope in your power to heal and to save.
Look kindly on those who mourn at this time and all those we lift up to you in remembrance.
Give us peace today and always. We ask this in the Spirit, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Reading                     John 20:11  
Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping.  Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet.  They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she replied, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him.  Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’  Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ ‘Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’.

Song Jesus Remember Me (Taizé)
All sing: Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom
Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.

A loved one is a treasure of the heart and losing a loved one is like losing a piece of yourself, but the love that this person brought you did not leave, for the essence of the soul lingers.  It cannot escape your heart, for it has been there forever. Cling to the memories and let them find their way to heal you. The love and laughter, the joy in the togetherness you shared, will make you strong. You come to realise that your time together, no matter how long, was meant to be and you were blessed to have such a precious gift of love in your life. Keep your heart beating with the loving memories and trust in your faith to guide you through. Know that though life moves on the beauty of love stays behind to embrace you. Your loved one has left you that to hold in your heart forever.

Song There is a Place (Liam Lawton)

Quiet Time

Reflection  Blessings – John O’Donohue
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

Concluding Prayer    Let us pray

All say:  God of love and mercy,
By the mystery of the cross, you have made us strong;
By the sacrament of the resurrection
you have sealed us as your own.
Look kindly on all those we remember today
And count them among your saints in heaven.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Song Take Me Home (David Haas)
All sing:  Take me home, to your dwelling place, in your sweet embrace,
Ready to hold me, in your arms, take me home,
To your loving eyes, with you alone I’ll rise
Singing forever, in your arms, take me home.

With you all pain is left behind,
no sorrow or death on that day.
O my God, how I’ve longed to know your love,
come wipe my tears, and take my fears away.

All sing:  Take me home, to your dwelling place, in your sweet embrace,
Ready to hold me, in your arms, take me home,
To your loving eyes, with you alone I’ll rise
Singing forever, in your arms, take me home.

Closing Prayer
Opening Song Ag Críost an Síol (Sean Ó Riada)

All sing:  Ag Críost an síol, ag Críost an fómhar,
In iothlainn Dé go dtugtar sinn.
Ag Críost an mhuir, ag Críost an t-iasc,
I líonta Dé go gcastar sinn
Ó fhás go haois, is ó aois go bás,
Do dhá láimh, a Chríost, anall tharainn.
Ó bhás go críoch, ní críoch ach athfhás,
I bParthas na nGrást go rabhaimid.

Reflection  The Tree of Life and Death  
Slowly she celebrated the sacrament of Letting Go.
First she surrendered her Green, then the Orange, Yellow and Red.
Finally she let go of her Brown shedding her last leaf she stood empty and silent, stripped bare. Leaning against the winter sky she began her vigil of trust.
And Jesus said:
And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they neither have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these.
Shedding her last leaf she watched its journey to the ground. She stood in silence wearing the colour of emptiness, her branches wondering: How do you give shade with so much gone?And Jesus said: Do not be anxious or overly concerned.
And then, the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and sunset watched with tenderness, clothing her with silhouettes they kept her hope alive.
They helped her understand that her vulnerability, her dependence and need, her emptiness, her readiness to receive were giving her a new kind of beauty.
Every morning and every evening they stood in silence and celebrated together the sacrament of waiting.

 Reading John 20:25-29
Thomas, called the Twin who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them.  The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and My God!’

Litany of Remembrance
Let us remember those who have lived and loved, those who have left us a blessed heritage.
Let us remember the light filled ones who enkindled our spirits with their influence and the spark of their beliefs. We remember them.
Let us remember the risk takers, who faced their fears and took action, who sought justice even though they had to pay a price for it.  We remember them.
Let us remember the vulnerable ones who allowed us to care for them, allowed us to be with them in their time of need. We remember them.
Let us remember the faith-filled ones who led us by word and example into a deeper relationship with God. We remember them.
Let us remember the brave ones, who walked through their struggles with hope, who taught us how to trust. We remember them.
Let us remember the great lovers of life, whose humour and enthusiasm lifted our spirits and brought us joy. We remember them.
Let us remember the nurturers, who gave us birth physically or spiritually, who gave us support by their caring presence.

Song Dona Eis Pacem (Owen Lynch)
All sing:  Dona eis pacem, dona eis pacem, dona eis pacem, pacem Domini

Reflection  Ready for the Journey (Rabindranath Tagore)
I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my friends.
I bow to you all and take my departure.
Here I give back the keys of the door.
And I give up all claim to my clothes and books.
I only ask for the last kind words from you.
We were family and friends for long.
And I have received more than I could give.
Now that day has dawned,
and the lamp that lit my dark corner has gone out.
A summons has come, and I am ready for the journey.
Farewell to you, until we meet again.

Concluding Prayer   Let us pray,
Let us now ask God to strengthen and bless our brothers and sisters as they take another step in their new pastoral service in their parish.
That those who exercise a pastoral service may grow to a greater love of Christ, let us pray to the Lord. R  Lord hear our prayer
That they may lighten the burdens of others and assist them in their struggles, let us pray to the Lord, let us pray to the Lord. R
That the Holy Spirit may strengthen their hearts and enlighten their minds let us pray to the Lord. R
That through their endeavours this parish may grow in faith, hope, and love, let us pray to the Lord. R

Blessing   Celtic Blessing

May the God of gentleness be with you,
caressing you with sunlight and rain and wind.
May his tenderness shine through you to warm
all those who are hurt and lonely.
may the blessing of Gentleness be upon you.
May the God of Strength be with you,
holding you in strong-fingered hands
and may you be a sacrament of His strength
to those whose hands you hold.
May the blessing of Strength be upon you.
May the God of Peace be with you,
taking away your fears and doubts and
may the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious.
May the blessing of Peace be upon you.
The guarding of the God of life be on you,
the guarding of the Loving Christ be on you,
the guarding of the Holy Spirit be on you to aid
And uphold you each day and night of your lives.

 Song May the Road Rise to Meet You (Lori True)
All sing:  May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be at your back.
May the sunshine warm up on your face,
May the rain fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again
May you keep safe in the gentle loving arms of God.

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