Blogger’s Note: On this blog I occasionally offer brief reflections on particular days within the church year. Today’s post is one such reflection.
Today in many churches across the world we observed All Saints Sunday. For some general context and background, All Saints Day is the day following All Hallows Eve. So November 1st is the proper time to celebrate All Saints, but in recent years we have shifted this observance to the first Sunday of November. Regardless, it is a day to celebrate and remember those who have gone before us, especially those who have died in the previous year. We remember all those who throughout history have experienced the grace of God. We also affirm the Lutheran concept of “simul justus et peccator,” meaning we are all simultaneously saint and sinner, believing that in Holy Baptism God makes saints out of sinners, and through holy communion God forgives the sins of all the saints. The liturgical color of the day is white for the saints and purity.
On this All Saints Sunday, we remembered both those who departed us in the past year. In the congregation I serve, we also remembered those were newly baptized this past year. This was a new practice for me, but I found that it was a nice way to integrate the relationship of life, death, and everlasting life. It gave new meaning to the concept of being a saint and also affirmed the understanding that all Children of God are both saints and sinners.
All Saints Day is also a time to remember those saints who have come before us who have had an affect on our lives and especially who may have played a role in our faith journeys. I always seem to think of my two grandpas as I join in the singing of the famous hymn “For All the Saints” on All Saints Sunday (a good recording of the hymn can be found here from St. Olaf College). Perhaps its because they both passed away in November, but also because in their own ways they helped shape who I am today, as well as my parents, siblings, extended family, and even lots of friends and perfect strangers. My grandpas lived lives of faith and trust in their own unique ways- one as a pastor and another as a ship architect. Both were very faithful, and always showed love to and took great joy in bragging about their families. Most importantly, they loved their grandchildren (including me) just for who I was (and who I am). They helped me know that I was created by God, called to share God’s love in my life, and that even when I might not know what exactly I am doing or am called to do, God would use me even in those times of uncertainty.
Who has had an impact on your life of faith that is no longer with us? What images come to mind to you on All Saints Sunday?
As we enter the last month of the liturgical worship year, what are your thoughts from the past year in worship? What questions do you have that you would like to discuss here?