Attending to the process of dying and death from a Christian perspective, our contributors explore how to provide better care for the dying, remember the dead rightly, and prepare for our own deaths--for these, they explain, respond to dimensions of the same problem: our cultural avoidance of death.
Christians begin preparing for their death through baptism, which, Eric Howell suggests, is an augury both of how to live and how to die. Critiquing our "immortalist" culture, Paul Griffiths explores how we can achieve a "Christian equipoise between death-seeking and death-avoidance" in which we do not seek death, but neither are we inordinately disposed to postpone it. Brett McCarty and Allen Verhey recover the virtues for dying well from the Ars Moriendi literature; they write that we would do well to "learn faith, hope, patient love, humility, serenity, and courage as we commend our lives and our deaths into the hands of a living God." Todd Buras and Joel Shuman review recent Christian contributions to an ars moriendi, or art of dying.
Remembering the dead rightly, with love that is undistorted by our passions, is a difficult spiritual discipline, Regina Easley-Young explains. A liturgy for All Saints Day by Eric Mathis with a new hymn by David Music helps us prepare to face our own death, even as it leads us to grieve the dead well.
Though we prolong the dying process, we often isolate dying persons and fail to acknowledge death. Charles Christian writes, "In response to this cultural denial of death, the Church's hope of resurrection and community support for the dying and the grieving can be good news indeed."
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to explore death and the process of dying. The study guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.
Download the entire Death issue and the set of five Study Guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.
Hymns and Worship Service
- "Dying Well,"by Joel Shuman
- Rob Moll, The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come
- Richard Payne and John Swinton, eds., Living Well and Dying Faithfully: Christian Practices for End-of-Life Care
- Allen Verhey, The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus
- Christopher Vogt, Patience, Compassion, Hope, and the Christian Art of Dying Well
- "Loving Our Last Enemy," by Todd Buras
- Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, The Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections
- Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring
- C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
- Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son
- "Restoring the Christian Funeral," by Charles W. Christian
- Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith, Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church's Voice in the Face of Death
- Thomas G. Long, Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral