Given the nice response I received from posting Practical Tips for Preaching a Funeral, I would like to follow up on this post with an answer to Gunny Hartman’s question found in the comments section: “Any particular format you use or favorite Scripture passages or other readings?”
I would like to touch on the favorite Scripture passages I use. Whenever I am called upon to preach a funeral of someone I really did not know all that well, I gravitate to John 14:1-6 and use a simple outline adapted from a John MacArthur sermon on this very passage:
1. Jesus comforts us with His presence (John 14:1);
2. Jesus comforts us with His promise (John 14:2-3);
3. Jesus comforts us with His pathway (John 14:4-6).
Again, you don’t want to give a full, 30-45 minute exposition unless the family requests it. Yet that does not mean we forsake structure. This passage most certainly ‘works’ whether the person was a believer or not (or even if it was in doubt).
When a Christian dies who suffered a long while with a debilitating condition, I believe one of the bests passages to preach on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:
For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,  if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.  For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,  for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (ESV).
Granted, this particular passage is following 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 in which Paul speaks of how ministry physically wears him out but spiritually is setting up for him an eternal weight of glory. Yet, as Christians, we do understand how important it is to maintain the faith even in times of physical distress and duress. This passage is appropriate for those who maintained their strong faith regardless of these circumstances.
(Another passage for this is Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”)
At the interment, I read two passages of Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Revelation 21:1-5. I use these passages to establish a hope for all Christians that this burial is not the end. In fact, we need to comfort and encourage with the hope that awaits the Christian — a kingdom where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, ESV). For the listening unbeliever, they will see what awaits the Christian and will plant some seeds of the Gospel.
While these are not the only Scriptures I use, these are ones that jump out at me. What Scriptures do you use for services?
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