Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saints Day

The day after Halloween is All Saints day in the church.  I look forward to this day each year.   It is a time to remember those whom we've lost, this year in particular.   Now most years I have enjoyed this day in the church as a time to reflect on the promise of eternal life that God gives us and all of the saints who have gone ahead of us in a way, as it has been a while since I lost anyone I knew well.  This year was different however.  This year I lost two people who re-focused this church holiday and moved it from the general to the specific.  So this Sunday I had two people on my mind:  My friend Emilie and my husband's Aunt Barbara.

I didn't know my husband's Aunt well but when we traveled down to her funeral I got to hear and know more of the extended family than I had known before and it was clear to me that I am blessed to be a part of this family.   It made me said that I hadn't had more time to get to know her before she passed.  She never got to meet baby goat either, but in a way because of her funeral baby goat got to meet much more of his family more quickly than he otherwise would have.   I admire her tenacity though, her commitment to her community, and her love of books. 

The other loss this year is even closer to me.  On Christmas Eve last year my dear friend Emilie lost her battle with cancer leaving behind a husband, two small sons and a cathedral full of friends and family who miss her.  I think about Emilie a lot.  I've dreamt about her.  I wonder what it would have been like to raise our sons together.  I wonder about her family and how they are doing, not just in general but in the everyday reality of missing her.  She has given me a picture of how to live a life of generosity, courage and grace and I miss her.

The beauty of our faith in Jesus Christ however, which we celebrate on All Saints Day is that these people are not gone.  They are living life eternal and live both in our memories and in Christ.  We can take All Saints Day to celebrate the lives that we have lost, but while grief is a part of this there is also joy in celebrating God's gift to them and to us.  Death is not the final end and that means that our loved ones are not lost to us.

These are my saints who I remember.  They join the ranks of my grandmother, grandfather and countless others who have shaped my life and my faith.  Who do you remember?   Think about those people we've lost.  Have you share stories of them recently?  Share stories with your children, particularly if they don't remember these saints in our lives.  Tell their stories and remember them and God's promise to us all.

As you think of these saints in your life listen to one of our well known hymns sung on  All Saint's Day:

Here is the text of the hymn as it appears in our hymnal:

1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
3. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
4. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
5. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
6. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
7. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

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