A Christian funeral service is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and an opportunity to remember and give thanks for the life of the one who has died.


No one wants to think about their own death and funeral. Lots of people like to have a funeral that includes what their deceased loved one “would have wanted”. That is why preplanning for a funeral service can be a tremendous gift to your family.

The intent of this “Funeral Worship Preplanning” is to invite you to make suggestions to your family regarding the funeral service. It is important to allow your family flexibility in the funeral arrangements they make. Any pre-planning that you do, you should both discuss with your family and provide them with a copy of your suggestions.


The funeral or memorial service is first and foremost an opportunity to worship the Lord of Life and celebrate the resurrection. The funeral honors, remembers, and gives thanks for the life of the deceased, but the heart of a funeral is always the promise of resurrection and new life in Christ. The “good news” of God provides hope and comfort to all who worship, and proclaims Christ as Lord of both the living and the dead. It is the pastor’s responsibility to ensure that the music, Scripture, message, prayer, and liturgy all lead to a celebration of the resurrection.


In the brief time leading up to the funeral or memorial service, the funeral home will contact the pastor and the pastor will visit with your family about the funeral service. The following information will help you make suggestions to your family.

Location of Worship Service

Although there may be unusual reasons for funerals or memorials to be held at the funeral home, you are strongly encouraged to hold worship in Worship Center. This is where the people of God regularly gather to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Holding the service in the Worship Center helps all who attend more clearly understand that what we do at a funeral is worship.

Officiating Pastor

Here at McFarland Lutheran Church, the Senior Pastor will determine who officiates based upon availability.


Personal tributes are sometimes delivered at funerals. They are not a standard part of a Lutheran funeral service. If a time for this is requested it will take place at the very beginning just prior to worship or during the meal and fellowship time. All tributes should be appropriate for worship.

Funeral Pall

For those funerals where a casket is present, a beautiful white/gold cloth covering called a funeral “pall” can be placed over the casket before it is brought into the sanctuary at the beginning of the worship. The pall symbolizes the righteousness of Christ with which we are "clothed" through our Baptism. The funeral pall reminds us that we enter the church through holy baptism and that we leave this world clothed in the “righteousness of Christ’.

Funeral Meal / Luncheon

If your family wishes to have a meal or dessert following worship, please tell your funeral director. The funeral director will be in touch with our Funeral Ministry Team. They will serve the meal for a small fee. This fellowship time is very important for families and friends as they support each other and share times spent together with the deceased. Please tell your funeral director approximately how many people you think might attend the meal/luncheon. If the funeral is scheduled mid-afternoon, your family may decide that dessert is preferable to a lunch.

If there is a graveside committal at a cemetery as part of the funeral, two options are possible. The committal can be done immediately after the funeral; then, everyone returns to the church for the luncheon. Or, the luncheon can be held immediately after worship with the committal to follow later (this second option is often done during winter weather as a courtesy to guests or when the cemetery is of considerable distance from the church).


A visitation at the funeral home is frequently held the day before the funeral service at the church. It is also quite common to have a one hour visitation at the church immediately prior to the start of worship.

Memorial Gifts

Many choose to designate one or more memorial recipients to which gifts are given in lieu of flowers. There are many worthwhile charities and associations, but we hope you will consider including McFarland Lutheran Church as a memorial recipient(s).

Military Recognition/ other special recognition

The military and other groups often have their own special ceremonies to honor those who have died. These special ceremonies are not a part of the worship service but they are filled with meaning and they will take place before or after the worship service and/or the burial.

Consult Family

It is important to talk with your family about any plans you make for your funeral. Try to provide guidance only for the decisions your family will have to make. Avoid creating strict directives that would be difficult or uncomfortable for your family to honor. Allow your family the flexibility they need to make good decisions regarding your funeral. Be in conversation with them about your preferences and the arrangements you suggest.


There are some who worry that cremation might not be a Christian practice. Cremation is a matter of personal preference and is completely acceptable from a Christian perspective. The people of God speak of "dust to dust" and "ashes to ashes;" it makes no difference whether we return to the dust of the ground slowly or quickly. Again, cremation should be talked about with family members if this is your preference.

Pastoral Assistance

Please feel free to discuss any of your funeral or memorial arrangements with a pastor at McFarland Lutheran Church.


The music at your funeral certainly can reflect your personal preferences, but it should also proclaim the hope we have in Christ through the resurrection. Secular music is not appropriate for worship, but could be played before or after the worship service, at the meal time and/or at the funeral home visitation. Ask yourself, "Does this music give glory to God and witness to our hope in Jesus Christ?" If it does, then it is appropriate for your funeral worship service.

Congregational Hymns

Hymns that the congregation sings are strongly encouraged. Singing gives expression to our faith by proclaiming our hope in our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God uses our singing to lift us up and bring us hope. Select hymns that are both easily sung and commonly known. Typically, three hymns are sung at a funeral service. Listed below are just some of the hymns that you might consider. All of these hymns are from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the worship book we use here at McFarland Lutheran Church.

Abide with Me No. 629
Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound No. 779
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God No. 504
Beautiful Savior No. 838
Behold the Host Arrayed in White No. 425
Beneath the Cross of Jesus No. 338
Blessed Assurance No. 638
Blest Be the Tie That Binds No. 656
Children of the Heavenly Father No. 781
For All the Saints No. 422
For All Your Saints, O Lord No. 427
Great Is Thy Faithfulness No. 733
Guide Me Ever, Great Redeemer No. 618
How Firm a Foundation No. 796
How Great Thou Art No. 856
I Know That My Redeemer Lives! No. 619
I Love to Tell the Story No. 661
In the Cross of Christ I Glory No. 324
It Is Well with My Soul No. 785
Jerusalem, My Happy Home No. 628
Jesus Christ Is Risen Today No. 365
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross No. 335
Jesus Loves Me! No. 595
Just As I Am, without One Plea No. 592
Lift High the Cross No. 660
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling No. 631
My Faith Looks Up to Thee No. 759
My God, How Wonderful Thou Art No. 863
My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less No. 597
My Life Flows on in Endless Song No. 763
Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds No. 367
Now the Green Blade Rises No. 379
O Christ, Our Hope No. 604
O Day Full of Grace No. 627
O God, Our Help in Ages Past No. 632
Oh, Happy Day When We Shall Stand No. 441
O Jesus, I Have Promised No. 810
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me No. 623
Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us No. 789
Shall We Gather At the River No. 423
Soon and Very Soon No. 39
The King of Love My Shepherd Is No. 502
The Lord’s My Shepherd No. 778
Thine Is the Glory No. 376
What a Friend We Have in Jesus No. 742

Other Music

Soloists or instrumentalists can be a part of praising God at funerals or memorial services. While it is okay to have a friend or relative provide such music, they should have the music abilities necessary and the emotional strength to sing or play at a time when they may be grieving. Again, only music that reflects our trust in Christ and His promises to us is appropriate at a funeral. One or two solos can be sung as a part of your funeral service. Below are some appropriate songs to assist you in sharing preferences with your family. Congregational hymns can also be done as solos.

Behold the host Arrayed in White No. 425
Borning Cry No. 732
Drawn to the Light No. 593
Eternal Spirit of the Living Christ No. 402
God Be with You Till We Meet Again
Give Me Jesus No. 770
He Leadeth Me: Oh, Blessed Thought
If with All Your Hearts (Elijah) – Mendelssohn
I Lift My Eyes to the Hills – Keesecker
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach (Instru.)
Just a Closer Walk with Thee No. 697
Lamb of God No. 336
Nunc Dimitis Pg. 113
On Eagle’s Wings No. 787
O Rest in the Lord (Elijah) - Mendelssohn
Precious Lord, Take My Hand No. 773
Sheep May Safely Graze – Bach (Instru.)
Shepherd Me, O God No. 780
Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling No. 608
The Old Rugged Cross Thine Is the Glory No. 376
Thy Holy Wings No. 613
You Are Mine No. 581


Scripture read at funerals or memorial services reflect our hope and trust in Jesus Christ and His promises to us. A funeral service often has three readings from the Holy Scriptures.. The pastor will want to know if you have favorite passages. The following are some possible selections of scripture for funeral services.

Old Testament Readings

Job 19:23-27 I know that my Redeemer lives
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd
Psalm 27:1, 4-9a, 13-14 The Lord is my light and salvation
Psalm 42:1-7 As a deer longs for flowing streams
Psalm 46:1-7 God is our refuge and strength
Psalm 90 You have been our dwelling place in all generations
Psalm 103 Bless the Lord, O my soul
Psalm 118:5-9, 13-17, 19-20 God’s steadfast love endures forever
Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills
Psalm 130 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord
Psalm 139:1-12 O Lord, you have searched me and known me
Psalm 142:1-6 With my voice I cry to the Lord
Psalm 143 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications
Psalm 146 Praise the Lord, O my soul
Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 For everything there is a season
Isaiah 25:6-9 God will swallow up death forever
Isaiah 26:1-4, 19 God will keep them in perfect peace
Isaiah 40:1-11, 28-31 Comfort, O comfort my people
Isaiah 41:10 Do not be afraid, for I am with you
Isaiah 43:1-3a, 5-7 I have called you by name, you are mine
Isaiah 44:6-8 I am the first and the last
Isaiah 49:13b-16a God will not forget you
Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-13 Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters
Isaiah 61:1-3 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me
Isaiah 65:17-20, 23-25 I am about to create a new heaven …
Isaiah 66:10-14 As a mother comforts her child
Jeremiah 31:8-31 I will turn their mourning into joy
Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33 The …love of the Lord never ceases
Joel 2:12-13, 23-24, 26-29 Turn to me with all your heart

New Testament Readings

Matthew 5:1-10 Blessed are those who mourn
Matthew 11:25-30 Come to me, all you who are weary
Mark 16:1-7 Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Luke 18:15-17 Baptized into Christ Jesus
Luke 24:1-9, 36-43 The resurrection of Christ
John 1:1-5, 9-14 The light shines in the darkness
John 3:16 For God so loved the world
John 6:37-40 I will raise them up on the last day
John 10:11-16 I am the good shepherd
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice
John 11:21-27 I am the resurrection and the life
John 12:23-26 Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth
John 14:1-6, 25-27 In my Father’s house are many rooms
John 20:30-31 That through believing you may have life in his name
Romans 5:1-11 God proves his love for us
Romans 6:3-9 We will be united with Him in a resurrection like His
Romans 8:26-27 The Spirit helps us in our weakness
Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 Who will separate us from the love of Christ
Romans 14:7-9 Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s
1 Cor. 15:12-26 Christ, the first fruits, has been raised from the dead
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 We will all be change in an instant
2 Corinthians 4:7-18 We have this treasure in clay jars
2 Cor. 5:1-8 A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens
Ephesians 1:11, 2:1, 4-10 Saved by grace through faith
Philippians 3:20-21 Our citizenship is in heaven
1 Thess. 4:13-14, 18 We do not want you to be uninformed
Hebrews 12:1-2 We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
1 Peter 1:3-9 A living hope through the resurrection
1 John 3:1-2 See what love the Father has given us
Revelation 1:17-18 Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last
Revelation 7:9-17 God will wipe away every tear
Revelation 14:13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord
Revelation 21:1-7 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth
Revelation 22:1-5 The Lord God will be their light

Print a Funeral Service Pre-Planning worksheet and fill out what you would like your family to know.

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