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The Church ritualizes this engagement of God with sacraments and blessings that communicate the inward and spiritual grace with which God blesses us. These outward and visible signs are sure and certain means by which God's grace is given. These signs are Sacraments, ritual acts of the church which express the mystical connection between God and God's people. Jesus Christ instituted two Sacraments: Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit other Sacramental Rites and Blessings were developed for the strengthening of the faithful and the nurture of the Church. These differ from sacraments principally in that they are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are.  The five other sacramental rites, Confirmation, Ordination, Marriage, Reconciliation of the Penitent, and Healing/Unction are means of grace, but are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Baptism and Eucharist are.

Grace Church celebrates these sacraments within the life of the parish along with burial and memorial services.  

Funerals and Memorial Services

The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8) This joy, however, does not make human grief un-Christian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that the one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we join in sorrow and sympathy with those who mourn.

Baptized Christians are properly buried from the Church. The service should be held at a time when the congregation has an opportunity to be present. As far as the Church is concerned there is no difference between having the body present in a coffin or as ashes in an urn. The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall or other suitable covering.

Only after a consultation with the parish office and clergy should funeral notices be written, readers invited to participate in the service, or reception arrangements made.  

For more information on funerals, memorial services or sacraments, please contact the Reverend Noah H. Evans at noah@gracemedford.org or 781-396-7215