WHEN IT COMES TIME, WE'RE HERE
FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Your friends at Nativity can help you make the arrangements
necessary to celebrate the life of your loved one.
When someone dies, loved ones — family and friends, neighbors and
church members — need space to grieve, to remember the deceased,
and to give thanks to God for their loved one’s life. We can help.
Please call us at (703) 768-1112.
Please know that everyone here at Nativity are sorry for your loss and we want you to know we are here to help you through this difficult time.
Nativity is ready to help when you have a death in your family. We offer:
Guidance when working with local funeral homes and making final arrangements.
Hosting a funeral or memorial service at a Nativity
Work with our pastor to to lead the funeral or memorial service.
Grief aftercare through resources such as grief care groups, classes, books, and mentoring.
To let us know about the death of loved one, please call us at 703-768-1112 to speak with Pastor Brent or one of our assistants.
A church funeral service is an important part of the grieving process that may also include a visitation at a funeral home, family’s home or at church;
a reception where friends and family gather to tell stories through laughter and tears; a public act of memorial, such as planting a tree or donating a park bench in memory of the deceased; and any one of many other possible acts of grieving and remembering the deceased.
Basics on Lutheran Funerals and Philosophy
In the latter part of the 15th century, Martin Luther, a German, was one of many who objected to the Roman Catholic teaching that one is saved by faith and good works.
In contrast, he believed in being saved by simply following Jesus. He also believed that the church should conduct services in the languages of its peoples and that the clergy should be able to marry. In response, the Church ousted Luther who then founded the Lutheran Church.
The faith spread and German and Scandinavian immigrants brought it to the US. Today, Lutherans can be described as either Evangelical Lutherans, who are more theologically liberal or a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who are more conservative.
Lutherans regard death as a new beginning. They believe that those who have faith are assured eternal life with God. At the service, guests are ushered to seating. If arriving late, they do not enter during the procession or prayer.
A pastor presides over the service and reads from the Lutheran Book of Worship or The Lutheran Hymnal of Lutheran Worship. Christians are expected to fully participate, but non-Christians need not kneel, sing or pray with them. If interested in recording the service, permission should be received from the pastor prior to the service. There are no specific rituals for observing the anniversary of the death. While the Lutheran faith does not prohibit eulogies, the pastor will often include details about the deceased’s life in the sermon in lieu of a eulogy.
There is no rule concerning when the bereaved may return to work and social activities, but visits from friends after the funeral are welcome.
Lutheran Quick Reference Guide
LENGTH OF SERVICE
(MEN/WOMEN)DARK & SOMBER / MEN: JACKET & TIE)
WITH PASTOR’S PERMISSION
SOURCE OF READINGS?
LUTHERAN BOOK OF WORSHIP
RETURN TO WORK?
NO. OF DAYS TO MOURN?
UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL
The Funeral Service
The Christian funeral service is a chance to come together to hear God’s promises for the deceased and to take comfort that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” not even death (see Romans 8:38-39). In the Christian funeral service we remember the baptism of the deceased by draping the remains of the deceased in white, the color of baptism and resurrection, and splashing the casket or urn with baptismal water. We hear from Holy Scripture words of God’s comfort and promise — comfort for those who grieve and promise that the deceased is in God’s everlasting care. We sing such promises in hymns and/or hear them sung in a solo.
Holy Communion is celebrated, as we believe this sacred meal to be a mystical gathering of God’s people — from the past, present and future — around our Lord’s table of grace, mercy and life. The deceased, and all those who have gone before us in faith, are truly in communion with us as we share in this sacred meal. Only in cases where significant portions of the funeral gathering would not receive — e.g., if a large portion of the family is not Christian or cannot receive Holy Communion in a Lutheran congregation because of the teachings of their faith — would we consider not celebrating the sacrament.
At funeral services we give thanks to God for the deceased and commend the remains of the deceased to God’s care. One or two remembrances (eulogies) are shared in the service, about 3-5 minutes each. If additional people would like to speak about the deceased, the reception is a very appropriate time to do this. In the sermon I strive to weave stories of the deceased into the story of God’s saving and gracious work in the world, and so in this way to tell the story of God by, with and through the story of the deceased. A prayer near the end of the service, said with a gesture blessing the remains of the deceased, asks God to graciously receive the deceased into everlasting care.
Funeral service or memorial service?
At a funeral service the remains of the deceased are present, and it is often held within four to eight days of the death. A memorial service is very similar to a funeral service, though the remains of the deceased are not present. Though there is no religious teaching in our faith that requires funerals to be held within a certain timeframe (as our Jewish sisters and brothers traditionally have the funeral within a day or two of death), funerals taking place within a week of the death give family and friends a meaningful and timely opportunity for grief, prayer and mutual comfort. Memorial services are held at a later date, when funeral services are not being held closer to the date of the death, or when the funeral is held in one location and a memorial service is desired in a different location.
Services need to be scheduled with the Nativity staff. Though the staff and the pastor have schedules that are generally flexible, there will be times when other congregational events, pastors’ vacation time or other extraordinary circumstances would prevent the church or pastors from being available at particular dates and times. In these rare circumstances, the staff and the family should work to find another date for the service or seek out another location and/or another clergyperson for the service.
Full body burial or cremation?
The Lutheran church teaches that cremation is a perfectly appropriate way to care for the remains of the deceased. Remains are appropriately buried at sea or in the earth, giving a dignified final resting spot to the deceased. Burial of remains — cremated or not — often takes place immediately following the funeral service but may also take place at a later date.