I’ll never forget my visit to see the famous leaning tower in Pisa, Italy. I had not realized that the tower was a bell tower at the east end of the church in Pisa, a separate building with bells that would peal when someone died. I actually became more interested in the building at the other end of the church—the round baptistery, a separate building dating from the thirteenth century built just for baptisms, with fantastic acoustics.
Earlier this year, an elderly member of our congregation died. She had been prepared for many years and had spoken frequently about her readiness for death. Her legal and medical documents were in perfect order. Her funeral was prepaid and prearranged with the local funeral director; she had chosen her casket, flowers, and, presumably, everything else related to the “final disposition” of her body. Her preparedness was well known to her family, her pastors, and her friends.
Q. Opinions in our church differ strongly about the "dress code" for our minister and others leading worship (a range from polo shirt to "Catholic" vestments). We would appreciate any advice you can give us, especially about the use of robes.
A. I will here limit my answer to the wearing of special worship "vestments" (although the polo shirt versus the business suit is also an interesting issue). As often when discussing worship questions, it's helpful to be aware of a bit of history.
The Chapel Garden of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church began as the idea of one man. Though he had long admired the quaint and lovely cemetery surrounding the nearby Episcopal Church, he realized that there was no possibility of replicating it. But in 1978, when he learned that 40 to 50 percent of our church funerals involved cremation, he had an idea. He talked to the senior pastor about the possibility of a church columbarium, a place where members and their families could inter the cremated remains of their loved ones.
This resource is a I publication of the Sec-I tion on Worship of the United Methodist Church. "The Order of Service" appears as a special pamphlet and can be ordered in quantity. This Order includes a communion service and an "Order of Committal." The rest of the book consists of a discussion of the ministry of the church at death, extended commentary on the "Order of Service," and additional resources, including prayers and Scripture readings.
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
For the last time this past week, I hope, I let an essentially pagan industry dictate to my colleagues and me how we go about what should be a uniquely Christian celebration.
My friend Manker Sherrod, an enthusiastic World subscriber, died at the age of 85. From his earliest years, Manker was a follower of Christ—and everyone around him knew of his faithful Christian testimony.