Father Christopher wrote to the parish afterward:
We sang a dear soul into the Kingdom today. I am never prepared for these services as a priest. I love our Orthodox funeral service as it says all that needs to be said especially when there are no words. These services carry us and sing for us. Every time I serve a funeral things hit me and at times I am filled with deep sorrow and can barely speak and other times am filled with the bright sadness and joyful sorrow of our Christian faith.
Christ's incarnation was real and not imagined. We stare death in the face and feel the depth of sorrow of a lifeless corpse separated from its soul. We proclaim a glorified and resurrected Lord who came to earth in search of us in order to reunite us with Himself. My favorite hymn from Holy Week speaks of Christ pursuing us "looking for Adam" and not find him/us there, He descends even into hades to find us. This theme runs throughout our funeral service. Christ came to restore that image that had grown dark through our desire to commune with things that do not bring life. He seeks us out even into the dark places we find ourselves. Christ comes to bring us light and illumine us. Christ is also the Life-giver. He comes to recreate us and bring us back to life again.
The funeral service uses the first person and it causes us to have to face our own death and our own failure to commune with God which is our true life:
"I am the image of Thine ineffable glory, though I bear the brands of transgressions. Pity Thy creature, O Master, and purify me by Thy lovingkindness; grant unto me my desired fatherland, making me again a citizen of Paradise."
"O Thou, who of old didst form me from nothingness, and didst honor me with Thine image divine, but for my transgressions of Thy commandments hast returned me again unto the earth from which I was taken: restore Thou me to that image, and to my former beauty."
May Christ our God receive the soul of Thy dear departed servant George in a place of refreshment, a place of repose where all sighing and sickness have gone away, for Thou art a good God and lovest mankind. Thou art the resurrection and the life.
Many thanks to Sergey for these photographs!