Death and Resurrection Series

The crocus is viewed by some as a symbol of hope and new life after winter. Image courtesy of Pixabay.
The crocus is viewed by some as a symbol of hope and new life after winter. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

What happens when we die? What happens next? Is there life after our lives here on earth, and what will it be like? And how do we honor the life and memory of those who have died?

These are questions nearly all of us have. Many of you have written to us over the years asking how United Methodists answer these and other questions about death, resurrection, and life in the new creation. This series gathers these questions in one place for easy reference. 

We hope, as our service of death and resurrection puts it, these may help you "live as those prepared to die" and "to die as those who go forth to live." 

Autumn light streams past a cross monument in a cemetery. Image by Pexels, courtesy of Pixabay. 

What happens when we die?   

As Christians confess in the Nicene Creed, "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come." In our service of committal, we pray "in sure and certain hope of the resurrection." What do we mean when we confess and pray these things? What do we believe happens when we die?

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Gravestone of Susanna Wesley at the Dissenter's Cemetery across from Wesley Chapel, London, UK. 

Is the time of our death predetermined? 

When loved ones die, it is not uncommon to hear someone try to comfort us with words such as, "It was their time." What do United Methodists believe?
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Women gather near the casket of United Methodist Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in May of 2010. Some 5,000 people attended Bishop Muzorewa's funeral. Photo by Tafadzwa Mudambanuki, UM News.

What is the purpose of a Christian funeral?  

What are we doing when we gather at a Christian funeral? Why do we gather? Why do we say and do the things we say and do there?

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At the time of Jesus, cremation was widely practiced by the Romans, but rarely by Jews and Christians because of their belief that the bodies of believers would one day be physically resurrected. Photo by MaryW, courtesy of Pixabay. 

May we consider organ donation and cremation?  

Organ donation is widely encouraged in many countries. And cremation, even in the United States, has become the most chosen option for the bodies of those who have died. What do United Methodists think about these things?     
 
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In times of illness, death and grief, pastors offer the hope and peace found in Jesus Christ. Image by truthseeker08, courtesy of Pixabay. 

Do United Methodists offer "last rites"?  

"In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us" (A Statement of Faith of The United Church of Canada). How do United Methodists embody God's presence with those who are close to death? 
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United Methodists pray for those who have died, commending them to God’s mercy and care. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications. 

Do United Methodists pray for the dead?  

United Methodists have confidence that our deceased loved ones are in God’s keeping. How do we remember them in our prayers? 

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Metaphors for resurrection are often found in nature. Image by zhugher, courtesy of Pixabay. 

What do we mean by resurrection?  

Is resurrection like a resuscitation of the bodies of those who have died? What if there is little or nothing left of their bodies? Or is resurrection something more? Or something else entirely?
     
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Photo by skeeze, courtesy of pixabay.com; graphic by Laurens Glass, United Methodist Communications 

What is our end goal as United Methodists? Is it just heaven?         

The mission of The United Methodist Church on earth is "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." But what about after life on earth? And how do United Methodists prepare people for getting to "what comes next?" 
        
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This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.