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Month 3:26, Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5939:085 AM
2Exodus 1/40, Omer Count Day 18/50
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 23 June 2014
Funeral in Kenya
The Bible & East African Tradition


    For the last 25 years the instructions given in 1989 in Norway and recorded as Section 147 of the Olive Branch [1] have served as the comprehensive doctrine and practice of this ministry as far as life, death, the soul, the resurrection and the conduct of funerals are concerned. Not until the work in East Africa began again in 2013 were new questions concerning the conduct of funerals once again raised that were not answered in the original instructions.

    Deut 21:22-23 22 "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God NKJV Gen 23:4 Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead. NIV John 11:17 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days NIV John 11:39 39 "Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." NIV Matt 27:57-60 57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away NIV Shalom Brother In trying to look ahead for the Mission, I have a concern about the expenses of funeral procedures. As we grow in numbers, so death quite naturally will multiply. And whilst I am all in favour of honouring the dead in the best possible way, we have also got to be realistic economically. I have several questions: 1. Who actually is responsible in your culture for the organisation and financing of funerals? The family of the deceased or the spiritual community? 2. Before you applied to join NCAY, how was this done? Did you have to raise money each time? And if so, how is this not being managed today? There has to be a rational approach to this for the future. It's very important for you to understand, furthermore, that once I have helped finance you from my inheritance, THERE WILL BE NO MORE AFTER THAT. I am on a tiny pension, most of our people are out of work or on very low incomes, and when the collapse happens this or early next year THERE WILL BE NO DONATIONS FOR A VERY LONG TIME. The money simply won't exist. Please give me some feedback on this and how this works, and what you propose to do in the future. In Messiah Yah'shua Pastor Warren ........... We as a Mission have the following responsibilties . 1. Transport for the body 2. Motury bills 3. Casket 4. Food for the orphan and widow 5.services for the dead incluiding PA We are not much responsible of other things. We can support on labor with members. In this case,the family of our dead member have their own request for the widow so that they can put up a building for her. According to their tradition(which are fighting to stop) is that if the husband is burried without a good building,then she will not get into a new house for six months. It is religion vs tradition here. We told them that we are not going to be responsible for any more expenses beyond this day for the motury bills. We shall help with labor on the building ................. Shalom Brother I have to say, quite bluntly, that as a GENERAL principle, this is upside down and negates Torah. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR FUNERALS IS *ALWAYS* THE BIOLOGICAL FAMILY'S. When the Messianic Community ('Church') assumes this responsibility, it is destroying the divine patriarchal principle. It is quite simply wrong. It acts like a miniature version of the socialistic state. Now obviously, if a family is struggling financially, then the Mission or Local Branch can OFFER to help AS IT IS ABLE TO but to automatically assume that it is the Assemblies' responsibility is to deny the family it's Torah rights and obligations and removes a sacred responsibility from it. The responsibility that belongs to the family then passes to the local congregation, and then to the pastor, and when neither can afford to finance the funeral, it results in the burden passing to donors. It creates the wrong kind of dependency and cannot possibly be blessed by Yahweh. It creates apathy and a lack of initiative on the part of the family unit, and breeds an unhealthy entitlement mentality. It is right that the messianic community should rally around to help where there is a need but it must NEVER assume the headship of the family. In the present situation, where is the late husband's family? What are they doing to organise and finance this? Who is the senior member in the late husband's clan? I realise, and understand, that there is crippling poverty in your situation but if we are to enjoy Yahweh's blessings and prosperity in the future as we try to build the Kingdom along non-traditional, Torah lines, there must be proper order and tavnith (pattern). What happens to Kenyans in non-Christian communities? Who takes care of funerals then? Help me to understand how things usually work. Do other churches do what you are doing? This cannot work economically in the long run, and certainly not after the collapse. Families must be sensitised as to their responsibilities and then, if they still cannot manage, the Mission must be consulted. When that happens, the Mission must seriously consider the financial implications and not allow itself to be influences by the cult of death which replaces Yahweh in society. Our first priority, as Scripture teaches, is to follow Yah'shua "and let the dead bury their own dead" (Matt 8:22, NIV). When I buried my mother last year, we kept everything to a minimum. There was an assembly to pay respects and an inexpensive meal for those who have traveled far. I know the state takes its pound of financial flesh. This is something we have to look into because the way things are now, we are not going to survive, and it will only create unnecessary debt which the believing dead would never agree to. The sister in SA sent her entire surplus for one month to help with this matter and even now that is now going to be wasted with mortuary fees for another week. That is why this whose procedure must be urgently reviewed. In Messiah Yah'shua Pastor Warren ................. The funeral in Africa is one of the most expensive ceremonies. We have tried to limit our expenses only to the deseased. The family has a bigger responsibility to clear any medication cost, feed other guest before,during and after the burials. Given more responsibilities,we cost share if we agree on a date for burial and they extend at their request,all the motury bill is theres. We have a fixed cost for the casket and if the family find that they want a more expensive casket than we can,they add their money. We also consider a fixed transport cost and any additional belongs to them. Other christians do it much. We only contacted you as donors coz members are contributing now for Nyamasanda mission which kicks of on 17th and the Kowino meeting. They are also striving to see that they raise some food for the widow and children. However,we have been doing it this way before and after joining you. Pastor Dackson


    [1] 48. There can be no proper understanding of what a funeral is without an understanding of resurrection.

    49. Traditionally burial has been the usual way of disposing of dead bodies in Christendom because it has been supposed that the resurrection would take place using the original matter of the deceased person -- that the spirit of the dead would return to the decomposed body in the place where it was buried.

    50. Such a theory never seemed to take into account the problems caused by the accidental or deliberate death of those by burning, sea burials or death by consumption by wild animals on land or in the sea.

    Dispersion of Elements

    51. Clearly in a large number of instances the constituents of such bodies are dispersed quickly into the environment.

    52. The only difference between such dispersal and the decomposition of a body in the grave is that in the grave the process is considerably slower (particularly in cold climates) --

    53. Dispersion still takes place so that, apart from (in the majority of cases) the bones, nothing of the original elementssurvive even in the locality of the original corpse.

    The Resurrection: New Elements

    54. It is therefore clear that resurrection cannot take place involving original substances that made up the living physical body which in any case is not constant even in life, undergoing a constant process of exchange and interchange with the environment through breathing, nutrition and excretion.

    55. The physical body is not like a house which year after year is made of the same building materials (assuming they are not replaced) for the "bricks" (molecules) of the body are constantly changing.

    56. There is no part of the mortal physical body that we can point to and say: "This is permanently mine".

    Burning and Buddhist Practices

    57. Other cultures practice the burning of corpses and some more gruesome (like the Tibetan Buddhists) involve feeding them to vultures and other wild animals.

    58. Cremation -- or the burning of bodies -- is now an accepted way of disposing of dead bodies in many quarters of Christendom.

    59. There is clearly no advantage to the dead person (who is now a spirit) as to how or where his physical body is disposed for he knows that in the resurrection he will receive a fresh body from fresh elements.

    Appearances in the Resurrection

    60. There is, moreover, evidence that the resurrected body will not have exactly the same appearance to the physical body worn in mortality -- that it will more exactly mirror our spiritual bodies which change in appearance as we are sanctified (or, if evil, corrupted).

    61. That Mary mistook Yah'shua (Jesus), whom she knew intimately in mortality, for the gardner in Gethsemane, suggests that the resurrected Yah'shua (Jesus) was of slightly different appearance to the mortal Yah'shua (Jesus).

    62. From my own personal experience I know that the spirit body appears very different from the physical body we wear in mortality, being of a far greater order of beauty as we grow in Messiah.

    Inward and Outer Beauty

    63. To some extent our physical bodies mirror this sanctification though never to the extent that the physical body actually changes.

    64. We should not forget that the servant of Elohim (God), Job, though appearing revolting outwardly because of his disease, was spiritually one of the most beautiful sons of Elohim (God) that has ever lived because of his righteousness.

    65. We should therefore ever be mindful of the saying of Yah'shua (Jesus) not to judge outwardly, which He has reitterated many, many times in the revelations of the New Covenant, but to judge righteously according to the spiritual eyes (Jn.7:24).

    66. It therefore seems more than probable that those who have little beauty outwardly but who are spiritually of great beauty through Messiah, will receive bodiesin the resurrection that exactly mirror their inner spirits;

    67. And that those who are beautiful or handsome outwardly, whose inner spirits are ugly and distorted, will bear outwardly a lesser glory and beauty than those of the reverse.

    Flexibility in Funeral Proceedures

    68. Doctrinally speaking, then, it is not important to the Messianic Evangelical whether he is buried in the ground or burned, for the elements that constituted his living body are no longer "his" but are returned to mother earth -- slowly or fast, depending on the method of disposal.

    69. It is therefore the policy of NCAY to allow each individual to decide how he or she wishes his body to be disposed -- or the relatives of the deceased if no instructions were left in life.

    Showing Sensitivity to the Grieving

    70. Though the dead body may be of no interest to the deceased it may be of importance to the loved ones of the deceased.

    71. Funerals are essentially for the benefit of those on earth who still have physical bodies.

    The "Spiritually Dead"

    72. Yah'shua (Jesus) displays two seemingly contradictory attitutes towards death and funerals; on the one hand He advised one of His talmidim (disciples) to "let the [spiritually] dead bury the [physically] dead" upon receiving a request for permission to bury his father (Lk.9:60);

    73. And on the other Yah'shua (Jesus) allowed the ceremonial anointing of His body for burial by the woman with expensive perfume (Lk.7:37ff).

    The Symbolism of Burial

    74. The symbolism of burial is, of course, vitally important to the Christian belief in spiritual death and rebirth, and it is probably for this reason that burial in the ground became the normative pattern of internment in the Christian Church.

    75. It is reasonable to conclude that physical burial of a corpse is by way of an ordinance for those still living, a graphic portrayal of the tenuousness of life in this sphere and of the terribleness of sin.

    Death Must Be Faced by All

    76. Death must, in the end, be faced by everyone, and experienced by all save those who will undergo a "twinkling of an eye" resurrection.

    77. The dead body, whilst practically useless to the departed spirit, remains, at least for a little while, as a symbol of great power and potency to the living, and especially to those who were especially close to the deceased.

    78. Those deep and poignant feelings are of the uppermost importance in preparing and executing a funeral.

    A Personal Experience

    79. It was my painful task some years ago to preside over the funeral of a small boy whose family were amongst the first members of this community.

    80. Though I had attended many funerals before, I had never attended the funeral of one whose family I felt especially close to. It was, therefore, a deep and poignant experience for me.

    81. With no scriptural guidelines from Yahweh on how a funeral was to beconducted, it had to be done on the basis of pure inspiration.

    Breaking the Links with the Living

    82. Though the spirit of a dead person has departed from a body the form still remains.

    83. That form, or shape, is a connecting link with the departed spirit so long as it (the body) is visible.

    84. Concealing the body is therefore a part of the completion of the process of dissolving the links of the deaceased to this world of physical form, at least as far as those on earth are concerned.

    85. Whether the body is put on display during the funeral or hidden is not for me to say. This must be a personal decision.

    86. Making it visible does, of course, prolong the agony of loved ones, and may only serve to postpone the necessary breaking of that physical bond which was once so strong.

    87. Attitudes toward the body will vary according to the inner nature of the loved ones in mortality.

    Emotional Grief is Normal

    88. Under no circumstances are they to be judged as being "unspiritual" or "unsanctified" if they show great emotional displays, but should be allowed full expression of their grief.

    89. The externalisation of deeply held emotions in an environment of loving support and care is of great therapeutic value; suppressed emotions may actually cause great spiritual damage.

    Ministering to the Berieved

    90. Ministering to the berieved is one of the most important pastoral functionsof a minister and must be done with great sensitivity.

    91. If the minister is in doubt as to what to say, he should keep quiet, but maintain a presence so long as this is desired by the berieved.

    92. He must allow space when space is required, and be present whenever, and for as long as, that is required.

    93. Ill-chosen words can cause great damage spiritually and only increase the agony of the deceased.

    94. The minister should not make promises about the spiritual state of the deceased in order to comfort the berieved unless he receives direct revelation to do so, but should gently rehearse the spiritual promises and teachings of Yah'shua (Jesus) about the resurrection.

    95. For myself in the experience described above Yahweh blessed me with a vision of the resting place of the dead boy in the world of spirits which I was able to relate to the parents and thus offer some spiritual comfort3.

    96. But by far the most important ministry is a manifestation of Christian love and care, after the death and funeral, to preclude the natural tendency of the emergence of bitterness and possible animosity towards Elohim (God) which not in- frequently arises when people have an imperfect love of Elohim (God) and do not fully understand the Besorah (Gospel).

    Concerning the Death of the Old and the Young

    97. For such regular ministry will almost certainly be required for a long time afterwards, especially if the loss is of a little child or of a youth or young spouse.

    98. Death of old people is taken more philosophically by the old but may not be so well understood by children or grandchildren.

    99. It may be safely assumed, though, that someone somewhere is suffering when any death takes place, and it may not necessarily be a family member.

    100. It should never be assumed that ministry is not required by someone.

    101. The dead body should be respected as far as possible as a former "temple of the spirit".

    102. For many berieved people the dead body is still their loved one for they cannot make a distinction between spirit and flesh, the flesh being that most visible and intimate aspect of their awareness of the person in life.

    An Intermediate Substance

    103. Though the main spirit has departed from the physical body there is still an intermediate substance, which is called by various names, which lingers on and emanates the vibrations peculiar to the deceased person.

    104. It does not depart as suddenly as the spirit but rather dissolves away over a number of days.

    105. It is not until this substance has finally gone that it may be said that the personality, at least, has finally departed.

    106. Postponing burial before this has happened is not, however, important and there is no reason why burial should not proceed as soon after the death as possible.

    The Possibility of Thaumaturgy

    107. Nevetheless, weighed against this is the very real possibility that the spirit may return to the body which has been dead and it is not unknown for people to come back to life several days after the body has been pronounced clinically dead.

    108. A space of a few days may therefore be deemed prudent between the medical pronouncement of death and burial.

    109. And in rare cases it is possible that the Lord intends His ministers, through the power of the Ruach (Spirit), to bring back the dead to life for some special reason.

    110. Having said this, though, relatives of the dead should not request special blessings for the dead from the Elders in the hope that they will be returned to life.

    111. Such activity may only prolong the agony and sow disappointment resulting in undermined faith.

    The Theme of Funeral Services

    112. Funeral services should be short and dignified and should be so structured as to respect the feelings of the berieved and to give them the maximum ministry.

    113. The theme of the service and short sermon should always be the resurrection.

    114. Long and flowery eulogies to the deceased should be avoided.

    115. A few remarks about his or her life, highlighting the best qualities of the person, are certainly desirable.

    116. Assurance, born of personal conviction, that the deceased is in good hands and happy (unless he was evil) should be made, along with assurance that the spiritual family of Messiah transcends the veil, is desirable.

    117. A few remarks on the Spirit of Elijah may be helpful.

    The Sermon

    118. The sermon should NOT be a doctrinal discourse but practical and of immediate value.

    119. The sermon should always witness of Messiah and include a strong element of hope.

    120. In the midst of sorrow an element of thanks and praise to Yahweh should be made within the bounds of the solemnity of the occasion.

    121. The sermon, and the service as a whole, should uplift and bring spiritual healing through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).

    122. The presiding minister must be carefully selected and must believe in what he is preaching.

    123. He must not break down emotionally but take control of the situation.

    124. The congregation will be vunerable and thus a strong, loving fatherly presence is essential to reflect the concern and love of the Heavenly Father.

    125. Neither should the minister be cold, emotionless and distant, but must be both intimately a part of the spirit of the occasion as well as apart from it.

    126. He should always discern the mood and act accordingly under the impress of revelation.

    127. The minister must also be cogniscent of the fact that there may be unbelievers present at a funeral and he must minister to these too.

    128. He is not there to preach to them yet he is nevertheless a witness of Messiah.

    129. He must minister as Messiah would minister in person, to the converted as well as the uncoverted.

    130. The service should be quiet, peaceful and reverent.

    131. Only on special occasions should a spirit of praise be introduced.

    132. The service should not be grave, sullen or morbid but should be uplifting in an intelligent, subtle and unobtrusive way.

    133. Long hymns should not be used in the service, neither should there be many.

    134. Half-an-hour to forty minutes should be long enough for the entire service.

    135. Those present should be able to look back upon the service and draw strength from it when they call the deceased into remembrance.


    136. Two or three short hymns should be enough. Many may not feel like singing at all.

    137. Let one of the hymns be for contemplation only -- something beautiful and evocative of the Kingdom of Heaven.

    138. There should be no noisy or dramatic hymns or pieces of music, no funeral marches or requiems unless these have been specifically requested.

    139. If the deceased has requested specific songs, or a specific program of music and readings, honour that request as far as you can.

    140. If musical instruments are played, make sure good musicians are used who will not give a poor performance. Pre-recorded music may well be the best.

    141. Make sure that the music used in the funeral is not used in Assembly services for a good long time if relatives of the deceased meet in that local Assembly, as it may evoke painful memories and spoil their worship.

    142. The minister must therefore be prophetic and accutely sensitive.

    Avoid Lavish Funerals

    143. Elaborate and expensive funerals are a bad example of the faith and should be avoided.

    144. The service should be kept simple at all times.

    145. Flowers may be presented as tokens of respect for the deceased and add beauty to the occasion.

    146. NCAY should have the final authority in making all the arrangements if the deceased has requested this whilst of course honouring unbelieving family members' wishes wherever practicable and desirable.

    Salvation Concerns Only the Living

    147. It should be made clear that the funeral service and mode of disposal -- burial or cremation -- is not a question of salvation.

    148. Salvation was determined at the deceased's death and not afterwards.

    Service of Remembrance

    149. If no body is available a service of remembrance should be held.

    The Burial

    150. It is a tradition in Christianity to bury the faithful on consecrated or holy ground.

    151. In NCAY a similar tradition has followed in which the minister dedicates the burial ground as the place for the resurrection of the body.

    Life, Death, the Soul and the Resurrection

    152. It may not, of course, be Yahweh's will that the resurrection occur at that place in which case such a blessing will be more symbollic than literal.

    153. It is desirable, however, that the ground be blessed so that the body remains undisturbed until it has dissolved back into the ground.

    154. The burial or cremation prayer may be prepared beforehand or given spontaneously according to the disposition of the minister. A suggested structure for a burial prayer is as follows:

    Burial Prayer

    155. "In the Name of our Master and Deliverer Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) who by His blood has made possible the eternal resurrection of all mankind, I bless, dedicate and consecrate this ground by the authority and power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, to be the final resting place of -----------, that his/her body may remain undisturbed until it has returned back into the earth;

    156. "That this spot be set apart as the place of the resurrection according to the will of the Eternal Father, when all the qodeshim (saints) arise from the grave to meet the Saviour in that day of triumph and glory when He returns. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Amen."

    157. The prayer should be short and to the point and may be read either before the body is lowered into the grave or as it is lowered.

    Other Customs: Earth & Flowers

    158. The custom of throwing a handful of earth into the grave and/or flowers is up to the berieved.

    159. Having said all of this local needs may dictate a different procedure.

    160. Providing the essential elements are present flexibility should be allowed.

    The Scattering of Ashes

    161. In cremations the ashes may be inturned or buried or scattered and prayers should be adapted for the different circumstances.

    No Revelation on Funerals

    162. It is interesting that no revelations have ever been given on funerals and may possibly never be.

    163. It is up to us what we do, therefore, provided it is in harmony with the Besorah (Gospel) and brings to pass the greatest love and ministry possible both for the living and the dead.

    164. The points and procedures outlined above are derived from my own personal experience in administering a funeral when I had no guidelines at hand save for the Davar Elohim (Word of God) and the burning witness of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) which guided my preparations and execution of this, one of the most difficult ministries a disciple of Christ may be called to give. Amen. (OB 147:48-164)

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