Funeral Chaplain

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Home > Articles > For Families > How to do a scripture at a funeral...

How to do a scripture at a funeral...

So the pastor has asked if any family members would like to read a scripture passage, and you got selected for the job.  Perhaps you've never read scripture publicly... maybe you don't go to church regularly.  But you'd like to do a respectable job reading God's Word, and you'd like to honor your loved one at the same time.  Here are some steps to help you read scripture at the funeral or memorial service:

  1. Pick the passage. You should work closely with the pastor or officiant in picking out the scripture passage.  You don't want to duplicate another passage being used in the service.  You might want to see if there is a particular theme that is being used through the service. You might consider a scripture passage that reflects the life of the person being remembered, or perhaps one of their favorite passages.
  2. Pick the version. There are many different translations of scripture available for use.  You should consider the translation commonly used by the family or faith tradition represented.  If there is no preference, you might consider using the New International Version (NIV) for its common everyday language.  On the other hand, the King James Version (KJV) is familiar to many--especially for passages like the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's Prayer.
  3. Consider reading from their Bible. If you are able to, you might want to read from the Bible of the deceased.  You might find meaning in this for yourself, or you might mention it to those that are assembled together.  Having their Bible might also help you pick the passage, as you may be able to identify some of their favorite passages.
  4. Introduce the text. Say something like: "I'll be reading from the Twenty-Third Psalm.  I invite you to hear these words of comfort."  Or: "Our Old Testament Lesson comes from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, a passage that reminds us that there is a time for everything."  Or: "I'll be reading from Grammie's Bible today, one of her favorite passages of Scripture, Matthew chapter 5."
  5. Read the text. Practice ahead of time, in case there are unfamiliar words or phrases.  Speak slowly and clearly, providing appropriate inflection to convey the meaning of the text.  It is not necessary to read the verse or chapter numbers.  If you are not sure how to pronounce a word, ask the pastor ahead of time.  If you are still not sure, then speak with great confidence... odds are that nobody else knows for sure how to pronounce that name either!
  6. Conclusion. It's helpful to communicate that you are done reading, especially if you are going to continue to speak following the scripture text.  You might simply say, "Amen."  Or perhaps you might offer a more formal blessing like, "The Word of the Lord," or "May God add His blessing to the reading of His Word."  However you conclude, do so with confidence, for you have completed the sacred task of proclaiming God's Word to those that are gathered.




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