Generous Orthodoxy: Thinking About Funerals (What Funerals?)

If you have ever lost a loved one to death,  you need to read this. In bowing to the cultural gods of moral equivalence and tolerance, the Church has generally abrogated its responsibility to preach the Good News that our Lord commanded us to preach. The result is that survivors of the Christian dead and unbelievers alike are robbed of the only basis for real hope available to them in the midst of their grief and loss.

And if you are one of those people, take hope. Talk to those of us who still believe our Story and its promise of redemption and new creation. It is never too late to hear the Good News so that by God’s grace you have real hope and comfort.

An Episcopal clergyman told me recently that in his 6 years in office, he had never seen the pall used in his parish church. What does that mean? It means that the traditional Anglican funeral, with the coffin present and covered by the pall, has almost ceased to exist. How has this happened? The “new” (1979) Book of Common Prayer clearly calls for the body to be present in the church — the rubrics (italicized instructions) assume it, with instructions such as “The coffin is to be closed before the service.” There is even a special set of prayers to be said (p. 466) as the body is brought into the church to repose before the service.

What has happened in the 30+ intervening years to cause this to change so totally? We now have the ubiquitous memorial service, which as far as I know scarcely existed at all thirty years ago.

Read and reflect on it all.

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About Kevin Maney

Fr. Kevin Maney completed his studies for a Diploma in Anglican Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, and did his coursework almost entirely online. He was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) on February 9, 2008 and as a priest in CANA on May 1, 2008. He is now the rector for the new parish plant, St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Columbus, OH, part of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).