Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral

Overview

"Thomas Long begins by describing how the Christian funeral developed historically, theologically, and liturgically, and then discusses recent cultural trends in funeral practices, including the rise in both cremations and memorial services. He describes the basic pattern for a funeral service, details options in funeral planning, identifies characteristics of a "good funeral," and provides thoughtful guidance for preaching at a funeral." But Long also notes a disturbing trend toward funeral services that seem theologically right and pastorally

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Accompany Them with Singing

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Overview

"Thomas Long begins by describing how the Christian funeral developed historically, theologically, and liturgically, and then discusses recent cultural trends in funeral practices, including the rise in both cremations and memorial services. He describes the basic pattern for a funeral service, details options in funeral planning, identifies characteristics of a "good funeral," and provides thoughtful guidance for preaching at a funeral." But Long also notes a disturbing trend toward funeral services that seem theologically right and pastorally caring, but actually depart from the primary aims of the Christian funeral constructed around the metaphor of the deceased as a saint traveling on a baptismal journey toward God, accompanied by the community of faith on "the last mile of the way." He argues that the cultural conditions for maintaining this view are under stress and a new, less-theological and less-satisfying metaphor that focuses on the mourner has begun to erode the Christian view. He contrasts the ancient grand community drama with today's trend toward body-less memorial services that focus primarily on the living and grief management. This is a loss for the church, he argues, and he calls for the church to reclaim the classic metaphor.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Long, a homiletics professor and well-regarded preacher, argues that funerals have become spiritually “impoverished” and need revitalization. Providing a comprehensive review of the history, traditions and theology of Christian funerals, Long notes that recent decades have seen both growing comfort with cremation and an increased preference for disembodied memorial services offering “closure.” In defiance of this trend, Long argues that just as bodies are present for baptism and weddings, they should be present for funerals. Long laments that eulogies celebrating individual lives often replace gospel preaching and advocates instead that liturgies emphasize a community's conveyance of a beloved's body to its final resting place, “worshipping as they go.” Delineating the purposes of a good funeral, Long urges clergy and congregations to embrace funerals as opportunities to “act out one more time the great and hopeful drama of how the Christian life moves from death to life” and from baptism to resurrection. This book promises to be a welcome theological resource and practical guide for pastors and others who care for the dying and officiate at Christian funerals. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664233198
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 780,178
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas G. Long is Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and one of the most popular preachers in the United States today. The author of many books, he is the coauthor with Thomas Lynch of The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Background

1 Marking Death: Human Rituals, Christian Practices 3

2 On Bodies Shunned and Bodies Raised 21

3 The Future of the Dead in Christ 37

4 Whatever Happened to the Christian Funeral? 57

5 The Funeral as Worshipful Drama 77

Pt. 2 The Church's Ministry in Death

6 In the Hour of Our Death 107

7 The Marks of a Good Funeral 121

8 Planning the Funeral: Practical Matters 141

9 Telling the Truth about Life and Death: Preaching at Funerals 183

Appendix Difficult Funerals 197

Notes 203

Index 215

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