Memorial Service November 30, 2003 St. Mary R.C. Church, 7:30 PM

Organized by the Lakeland Christian Community Home Ministry of Care whose members seek to bring the healing of Jesus to the sick, the homebound and the bereaved

Opening Hymn: Amazing Grace,


Welcome to our prayer and memorial service this evening. I have been asked to be the prayer leader tonight. We are volunteers from different Christian denominations in our Lakeland area who are prepared to visit those who are homebound, those who are sick, or to offer our help at a time of bereavement. In this way we will try to bring Christ's healing presence into our community. We also felt we wanted to do something for all the members of our community who are feeling the sorrow of loss, whether that loss happened last week, a year ago, or even 40 years ago.

Our service tonight will be quite simple. We want to bring God's presence into our midst by recalling his words from Sacred Scripture and by reflecting on the meaning of those words for us gathered here tonight. We want to present our prayers and our need for healing to our God. We want to reverently call forth the names of those we have lost, and whose absence still causes us pain. We want to express our faith that God's love for them and for us is greater than death.

We have chosen several symbols as part of our service tonight:

The first symbol is created by all of us gathered here. As a community of people sharing faith and supporting each other in our grief, we are a sign of the real presence of our God in our world.
The second symbol will be the names you write on the cards you received when you came tonight. These names symbolise the lives of those we mourn, what we shared with them, and all that they mean to us.

The third symbol is the Easter or Pascal Candle which is burning in front of us. This candle is blessed and first lit in the darkness of the solemn Easter Vigil. The flame represents the Risen Lord Jesus, and on that night, the light from this candle was passed on to individual candles held by all those who came to worship. As the light is spread, we testified to our belief that the victory of Jesus over death is also our victory, because the Father has called us to be adopted sons and daughters. Tonight you will take the small tea candle and light it from the flame of this Easter candle. That small candle will represent the people we are remembering tonight, and it will be our testimony that we believe they have found new life in God.

The fourth symbol will be all of the small candles as they are placed and gathered on the stylized tree which serves as our candle stand. You may remember that God appeared to Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed by the flames. Our lives, our pain, our prayers and our memories are gathered to become a sign of God's presence in our midst. We pray for his healing, for his comfort, and for his strength as we remember, and as we go on with our lives.

Let us now listen to God's words speaking to us from Sacred Scripture:


God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage.

Flood the path with light, turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all those who journey with us on the road of life , to your honour and glory.
[Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo]

Old Testament Reading:

Isaiah 40: 1-8

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that she has served her term, and that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out; “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.

The word of the Lord...

Song: Be Not Afraid,

Gospel Reading:

John : 14; 1-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord. We do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

The Gospel of the Lord...

Reflection on readings:

Lighting of Candles

[After names have been spoken and the candles lit, there will be meditation music from John Michael Talbot]

Responsive Prayers


God, creator and sustainer of all life, be with us tonight as we remember those you have given to us in love, and who have now returned to your heavenly embrace. Remember the sorrow you felt as your Son died on the Cross. Remember the sorrow Jesus felt at the death of his friends, and remember your promise to send us your Holy Spirit to comfort us in our sorrow.

Our response to the petition prayers will be:

“Lord, let the light of your love shine on the sadness in our hearts.”

1. For all of us who grieve the loss of parents or grandparents, may we appreciate the life and love which they gave us, and may we have the comfort of knowing that their reward is eternal life with you, We pray to the Lord....

2. For all of us who grieve the loss of a child, may we remember the hope and joy that they brought to us for such a brief time and may we find some comfort in knowing that you have become the complete fulfilment of their lives, We pray to the Lord...

3. For all of us who grieve the loss of a spouse, may we celebrate the joys we shared with them, forgive ourselves and them for the wrongs that happened in our relationship, and find comfort in the sure knowledge that your love for them is still much greater than our own, We pray to the Lord....

4. For all of us who grieve the loss of a friend or companion in life, may we remember more and more each day the love we shared, and may they know with joy how much their friendship meant to us, We pray to the Lord...

5. For all of us who grieve the loss of other people who have given of themselves for our benefit, may we learn to show our appreciation for these gifts by modelling them for others, We pray to the Lord...

6. For all of us who grieve the loss of millions of men, women and children, who have died in all wars, and whose deaths have impoverished our humanity, may we strengthen our resolve to bring your justice and love in this world and so prevent future wars. We pray to the Lord....

7. For all of us who grieve the deaths of millions who are victims of poverty, hunger and natural disaster, may we learn to completely believe in our common humanity, and thereafter resolve to do all we can to reduce suffering in this world. We pray to the Lord....

8. For all of us who grieve the loss of our own youth and of our own good health, may we not be troubled by looking backward, but rather seek the blessings and joys of each day that you give us, We pray to the Lord...

9. For all of us who grieve the lost opportunities in our lives and in our relationships, may our regrets end and may we seek forgiveness where it is needed, and then give us help to move onward in the light of your continuing love, We pray to the Lord...

10. For all of us who hurt in too many ways to recount, and from causes even we find hard to identify, may the healing of our God come into our lives and into the lives of all those we cherish, We pray to the Lord...

11. For all of us as we struggle under the mounting burden of many losses, of much sorrow, and of crushing pain, may we look to your love and your Son's own resurrection as the source of our hope, comfort and spiritual joy, We pray to the Lord....

Leader: Father of all hope, and source of all comfort, be with us in our pain, enfold us in the warmth of your love and help us to look forward to that day when we will all come together with new life and new joy in our heavenly home. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.


Lord's Prayer ALL

Closing Prayer ALL

God of all consolation, in your unending love and mercy you turn the darkness of death into the dawn of new life. Show compassion to your people in their sorrow. Be our refuge and our strength to lift us from the darkness of grief to the peace and light of your presence.

Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by dying for us, conquered death and by rising again restored life. May we then go forward eagerly to meet Him, and after our life on earth be reunited with our brothers and sisters where every tear will be wiped away. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Lord. AMEN.

Blessing Call

Closing hymn: “Jesus Remember Me”


The symbolism of the candle tree:

In Scripture the presence of the Holy One, of Yahweh, of the Lord/ Elohim is spoken of in certain definite ways that all understood. The Wind was one such indication of the Lord’s presence, as was Fire. It was as Fire that the Lord appeared to Moses in the desert, as a burning bush that was not consumed. It was as a pillar of fire that the Lord was present and led his people across the Reed Sea, and through the years in the desert, and finally into the Promised Land.

Fire is of the Sun, and gives warmth and gives life to the earth. Fire brings light and dispels darkness and the dangers that lurk in darkness, and which can trip us up and do us harm.

It is fire that was used by the Christians to symbolize the Risen Lord. As fire is often synonymous with life itself, when we light the great Easter Candle at the Vigil on Holy Saturday, and from that single light, that we light the candles held by the whole congregation. In doing so we symbolize that it is the life of the Risen Lord that will give us a new life, and because we do it together, darkness is dispelled. It is important to note that the Easter Candle is not the only candle lit during that service. it is not just the Risen Lord who brings light to the world, and new life after death, it is the Risen Lord giving of himself to each of us, so that as a church, we bring life and light to the world.

At our Baptism each of us, or our sponsor, was given a candle that had been lit from the Easter Candle, and we were told to ensure that it continued to burn brightly in our lives until we would be called back to our God in death. We keep that candle, that light of God’s presence in us, burning brightly as we live out our baptismal commitments.

Eventually each of us is called to return to the Father just as Jesus returned to the Father, the source of life and light. Those who have gone before us shared their light with us, shared the life of God within them with each of us, and it is our task to keep the light burning .

In our Memorial Service we light individual candles that represent the living Spirits of those we remember, and we add those lights to the burning bush, the tree that is topped by a symbol of the Risen Lord, to whom our lives have been joined.

It is a good and a strong symbol because it is a symbol that has its origins deep in our human and religious culture. It speaks to us, not just our minds, but deeply to our spirits which seek to express things of the Spirit that words alone fail to communicate.


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