All Saints Day, November 1

November 1st is an ancient holy day that most people outside of the church have never heard of, although they know about the day before very well. All Saint’s Day, or All Hallow’s Day, has been honored since at least the 4th century, and on November 1st since the 8th century.

It is preceded by All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, and thought among some cultures (Celtic and Latin American being the most prominent) to be one of those “thin places” in time where the souls of the departed and the souls of the still living can come closer together than usual. (It’s why our Halloween costumes tend to cross over that line of living and dead, hoping to ward off the evil spirits that might cross over, and the next day to celebrate the good spirits that keep us inspired.)

It’s a comforting thought, being in a thin place with those we love but can no longer see or touch. I know as our church grieves so many of our own saints, most of whom died younger and sooner than we were ready for, I would like to have more moments of access with those saints.

In Christianity we proclaim “the communion of saints,” the idea that all Christians, living and dead, martyred, beatified, and plain ol’ regular folks like you and me are all part of the body of Christ. The Roman Catholic Church honors All Saints Day for all Christians, and All Souls’ Day for all people, but in the Protestant church we combine them together, believing that all of us are a bit sinner and a bit saint. When we partake of the bread and juice at communion, we take our place in that body, allowing Christ to work in us and through us.

Once we have died, we join the great “cloud of witnesses,” that is referenced in Hebrews 12:1-2, the giant cheering section of the faithful encouraging those still living to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

On All Saints Day, which we will celebrate with communion in church on November 5th, we have a chance to bring our hearts close to that cloud of witnesses, to offer our grief, and to be spurred on into the joy of the promised resurrection. Whether you believe that resurrection is a literal, everyone-in-white-robes-bowing-at-the-throne-of-God heaven as depicted in Revelation, or some wider life and greater wonder and mystery beyond the bounds of mortality, or simply that death and grief do not have the last word, the Saints remind us not to lose heart. They compel us to draw close to that which drew us to them, the Love that is the core of all goodness.

I will likely be weeping on All Saints Day, possibly with many of you. But they will be tears of gratitude and joy mixed in with those of grief. I will be reminded to see God’s love in the dances that David Napier danced, the coffee and cats and hospitality that Kevin Burke loved, the peace chants and songs of hope of Andy Blyth, the quilts that Loretta Mountjoy made, the perfectly-tuned engines that enthralled Don Robertson, the miracles of technology that inspired Steve Parks, and the music that moved Dorothy Grossman’s heart. And all those that we each loved and lost personally this year will join the communion of saints as we break bread together. 

I will be trying to let my heart and hope grow wider and allow these saints to lead me forward into life more abundant. Will you join me?

Rev. Rachel

Categories Newsletter item | Tags: | Posted on October 31, 2017

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1 Comment

  1. by Lisa Bosley

    On October 31, 2017

    Thanks Rachel, that was beautifully written and a lovely reminder of the meaning of Halloween.

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