A committal service is a brief ritual
involving prayer at the graveside following the funeral. Members of the immediate
family and close friends of the deceased gather as the closed casket is lowered
into the ground. Sometimes a family member will shovel the first dirt onto the
casket. Family members and friends may throw flowers into the grave.
As earth is symbolically cast on the coffin, the minister says the following prayer:
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection into eternal life,
through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to almighty God our brother/sister
(Name), and we commit his/her body to the ground, earch to
earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Blessed are the dead who die
in the Lord, They rest from their labors, and their works follow them.
The brief service may also include opening sentences, the Lord's
Prayer, and an additional blessing and benediction.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.