Into God's Loving Arms: On the occasion of a miscarriage, a stillborn chilld, or an early death

Opening Words of Scripture

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children.
—Psalm 103:13,14,17

and/or

This is what the LORD says:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and refusing to be comforted,
because her children are no more."
—Jeremiah 31:15

Words of Invitation

Friends, we have gathered here to worship God
and witness to our faith
even as we mourn the death of this infant,
the child of__________and__________.
We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss.
May God search our hearts,
that in our pain, we may find comfort;
in our sorrow, we may find hope;
and in death, the promise of the resurrection.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them;
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
—Mark 10:14

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
—2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Prayer

All-knowing and ever-loving God,
who remembers even the sparrow when it falls;
though no one else may fully understand
or share our grief at this loss,
you share all our griefs and sorrows,
you know all our broken dreams.

You call us to cast our burdens on you
and in your presence to find comfort.
In this uncertain world, where our dreams fail
and our mortal flesh turns to dust,
grant us grace to taste your eternal love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or

Lord, we do not understand why this little one
which we had hoped to bring into the world
has died before birth
(or, has died so shortly after birth).
We only know that where once was sweet expectation,
now there is bitter disappointment;
where once there was hope and excitement,
now there is a feeling of failure and loss.
Nothing can replace this life, this child,
whom we have loved before seeing,
before feeling it stir in the womb.
In our pain we look to you, Lord,
to whom no life is meaningless,
no matter how brief or small.
Though our understanding may be limited,
may it not confine our faith.
Draw us close to you and to each other in our grief.
Heal our wounds and comfort our sorrows,
and raise us all from death to life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Readings

One or two passages of Scripture may be read. Particularly appropriate passages include Isaiah 65:17-25, Zechariah 8:1-8, Matthew 18:1-5 and 10, and Mark 10:13-16.

Meditation (optional; should be brief, informal, personal)

Mutual Witness and Comfort

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father,
as your Son, Jesus, took children in his arms
and blessed them,
so we commit this child to your loving arms.
May we now continue our earthly journey
in grace and hope,
assured that you care for all, great and small,
looking to that day when we will gather with all your people
in the unending joy of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
who taught us to pray,....

(the Lord's Prayer) Amen.

Benediction

This service of prayer was adapted from an article appearing in The Christian Ministry, January'/February; 1989. Copyright 1989 Christian Century Foundation. Reprinted by permission.