Christianity, Cremation, and Scattering My Sister’s Ashes

Rolf Bouma

Rolf Bouma
November 1, 2016

Despite cautions from the Catholic Church concerning cremation, I see the scattering of my sister's ashes as an act of faith.

November 1, 2016

I love the prayer.
I have written it down for my family when they scatter the ashes of my deceased husband and me in a similar manner.
Thank you

Cathy Witthoeft
November 1, 2016

Wonderfully said, written and done. God bless each of you in your faithfulness to God and to your sister's wishes. Mine are similar but in AK. One brother's are scattered in a beautiful red rock canyon in CO, one shared in CO, AK and IN to be scattered and prayed over by loved ones, and my dad is in a traditional mausoleum in a cemetary w/part of my brother and waiting there for Mom when her time comes! We serve a Mighty God! If He can find us and bring us to Him thru every kind of death and circumstance- afterall, He is the Creator and God of the universe, he can do anything. He promises not to lose us. Therefore, I believe you are exactly on the right and God-approved path. God bless you and thank you for sharing your heart!

Lamarr Edwards
November 1, 2016

So many times denominations major in minors, as in this case. Does God really care where the remains of a person whose soul is no longer present are laid to rest ? I truly think not.

November 1, 2016

This is a beautiful post.

The Catholic Church's move here strikes me as pharisaical, too, and potentially worse. So I also think it's an unhelpful move. But I also think that we'd do well to ask why there's a Catholic pushback against cremation in the first place. I know that eschatology isn't exactly the sort of thing that needs to be given a place of first importance in Christian theology, but at least one facet of it does deserve that kind of distinction: the hope of bodily resurrection in Christ.

Historically, at least as I understand it, the church's objection to cremation has been twofold. First, it's to distance itself from pagan and occult practices. But second, and more importantly, it was to witness to what Jesus said when he spoke over the dead girl he was about to revive: "She is only sleeping." (Matthew 9:24) In burying our dead, we witness to our belief that they are sleeping and will one day bodily awake--and this is our testimony against the pagan philosophies of the world that suggests otherwise.

Still, somewhere along the way we lost that emphasis, and like so many things, Christian burial became just "the thing you do." Cremation became unnecessarily taboo. And our eschatology became marginalized to the point that we stopped caring about whether or why we bury our dead.

As one who personally believes cremation may be an act of stewardship as well as a tool of last Christian witness, I'd like to suggest that, in addition to the beautiful portrait Rolf paints above, we who choose to cremate our (Christian) dead would do well to use the opportunity as a witness to our belief in the resurrection--and to the reality that when the resurrection happens, it's not simply a revival of our old bodies, but a wholly new work of creation. When we look upon the beauty of creation where we scatter our ashes, the experience is but a pale foretaste of the glory of the sons of God that is yet to be revealed--the one for which the creation itself waits eagerly (Romans 8).

Bill Wald
November 1, 2016

My wife and I also want to cremated and scattered. Put our ashes in the same coffee can and one of the kids will scatter them in Puget Sound or a national forest.

Derek Atkins
November 1, 2016

It seems to me that what the Catholic Church is trying to teach is the importance of the resurrection. According to the Bible, God created us as whole beings, with bodies and souls that are inseparably connected. While the Bible does teach that we are present with the Lord when we die, the Bible also teaches that when Jesus returns, he will bring back to life all those who have died, because our bodies are one of God's good gifts to us. Jesus' own resurrection affirms this teaching, for when Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were able to recognize him, and he still bore scars from his crucifixion.

While it is true that God can and will recall our DNA wherever they may be (consider the case of countless men and women who died at sea, and whose bodies eventually became food for fish and other sea creatures) I still think keeping one's cremains together still points toward the hope of the resurrection, while mixing one's cremains with those of another seems to dilute (pun intended) that message.

November 2, 2016

Cemeteries are not always busy anymore but I like the fact that our friend is buried in a place we know and cherish!art

Daniel Meacham
November 2, 2016

Once again the officials in the Catholic Church are commenting and declaring things which are not in scripture.

Jonathan Lally
February 15, 2017

Cremation...something that I have been in wonder of when thinking about Jesus' return and the 'dead in Christ rising first,' what a sight that would be!! My grandfather was cremated and I've often wondered how this dead in Christ rising first will be with those whose remains are ashes...but then again when God formed Adam from the dust of Earth there were no bones already there. God, the Creator of the world, imagined us, handcrafted us into something truly amazing. If out of nothing God created the universe, stars, sun, moon, earth, seas, fish, birds, etc., then how can cremated remains, whether scattered or not, of a Christian be something that is beyond a God who call forth creation with a single word?

As for the declaration from the Catholic Church, are they not mere humans too? They say and put forth "instructions" that end up more as a instrument of fear than of comfort. I just think of my Catholic friends who, whether they admit it or not, have this fear that if they step out of these "declared" lines that they will lose their designation of "Christian" or membership in the Church.

Hope that makes sense where my thoughts are on this topic. But I JKana this was a beautiful post.

Naomi Shubert
April 14, 2017

what would Jesus do? What would the apostles do?

We are commanded to follow their example in all matters of dispute.

The expense of a burial is what most people consider.. Is using expense on the body of a person a waste of money, when it can be given to the poor or needy?

We actually have two opinions expressed in the Bible on this issue. Its down to us which one we follow.

August 19, 2017

Sorry to hear the lost of your sister. Ijust want to respond to your posting. I am a Catholic. The Catholic church allows sea burial of cremated remains at the sea,not scattering ashes. We can drop the urn into the sea.However, we don't need to worry with how we dispose the remains.Her salvation does not depend on how we treat the remains. God can resurrect the body although the remains scattered on the land/sea/eaten by animals.

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