Time to Remember - Leaves and Bulbs

The Christian perspective on life and death includes a strong understanding that death is not the end of life; rather it is the precursor to a new life in which we continue to have personality and to live in a world in which all is in accordance with the loving nature of God.

Because we do not have direct personal experience of this new life we rely on the experience of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and on familiar images drawn from the natural world around us, to help us

For example, looking at the seasons of winter and spring helps to illustrate death and resurrection.  Jesus died so that we might have new life.  The trees have to shed their leaves for the winter darkness so that, through the processes of God’s creation, they may have continuing, but different, life when spring comes. The bulb has to be planted in the ground to come to a beautiful and unexpected new life.  We will use these symbols of leaves and bulbs to help us reflect on death and resurrection.

The Gathering 

On arrival everyone is given a dried leaf and a pen.

Welcome

As you came into church, you will have been given a dried leaf and a pen.  You are invited to write on the leaves the name(s) of your loved ones who have died – whether recently or many years ago.  The leaves will be used later in the service.

Hymn - Lord, we pray be near us (see Hymns for Funerals)                                 

Introduction                        

We are gathered here today to think about, and give thanks for, those whom we have loved and who have now died.  We shall do this by reflecting upon theseasons of winter and spring.  Winter represents death and grief and sorrow andspring represents the harbinger of new life and new hope.  This is a parable from the natural world of the Christian message of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  He died for us that we might live.

Opening Responses        

When winter comes and all seems dark, and hope is gone:
Guide us from darkness to light.

When spring starts to appear, and hope is rekindled:
Bring us your comfort and show us the way.

When the sun shines warm, birds sing and the bulbs bloom:
Let us rejoice at the ending of winter and the signs of new hope. 

Bible Readings                  

The Song of Solomon 2.10-14 Arise my love, my fair one, and come away
John 20.11-16 Mary weeps at the tomb
Benedicite The Song of Creation 

Whilst gentle music plays everyone who wishes to should come forward and let go of their leaf. As the leaf is released you are invited to say out loud the name on the leaf. Once you have let go of the leaf please pick up a bulb as a symbol of new life, new hope and resurrection. You may like to take the bulb home to plant.

Stillness                   

Whisperers by Patience Strong

Prayers                

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

The road ahead can seem very long and very dark after the death of a loved one and often there seems little point in going on. Sometimes the pain and loss can be quite overwhelming, but God says:

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

We hold out to God all those who are here tonight, all those who are newly bereaved, and all those who have journeyed on a while since their bereavement.  May those who have passed this way reach out and reassure those who cannot believe the pain and sadness will ever pass.

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

We hold out to God all those here tonight who have seen division in their family since someone has died.  May God’s way of love heal the hurt and bring the family closer together again.

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

We hold out to God all those here tonight who are remembering their parents.  We thank God for the life they gave us.

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

We hold out to God all those here tonight who are remembering children who have died.  We expect our children to be our future and when they die so many of our hopes and expectations go with them.

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

We hold out to God all those here tonight who have had their partners die. Those who feel lonely and unsettled, those who long for another human’s touch, a hug, a kiss.

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

May all of us here tonight be aware of our neighbours and friends who grieve.  May we welcome them into our homes and dare to walk the road with them for a while. May they in time find a new and healed way forward with God at their side.

Do not be afraid for I shall be with you.
Lighten our path, Lord, and show us the way.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world
may rest upon your eternal changelessness. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer             

Hymn – Now the green blade riseth            

The Dismissal

May the God of winter meet us in our dark nights and show us the way,
may the God of spring bless us with a message of hope and healing,
may we all be blessed by the knowledge that spring always follows winter
and may we all live in the light and warming love of the risen Lord.
Amen.

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