On Sunday, November 5, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day in the life of the church, as it falls close to November 1, or All Saints’ Day on the Church’s Calendar. It is a day, which has its roots in the third century of the early church, where churches would honor the martyrs of our faith. It has become a day to remember all of the saints, including every member of the church and not simply those who have been formally recognized or canonized. It is a day where we will read aloud the names of members of our church, who have passed away in the last twelve months.
In remembering the lives of those who have gone before us, we are able to find strength collectively for our grief as well as finding guidance in the lives of those who are no longer with us. On All Saints’ Day, we remember that the love of God we find in Jesus is stronger than death, giving rise to our hope, which can shape our lives even now. Even though the saints have gone before us into the nearer presence of God, they are still a part of us and never far from us, as we read in Hebrews 12:1, “We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.”
We do not place the mantle of perfection on anyone’s life, but we acknowledge the light within them, which can burn with the light of Christ, as Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” On All Saints’ Day, we light a candle to remember the light that burned in the lives of the saints.
In talking about the lives of those we have loved and lost, it might feel like a fragile conversation, but the church has been the place for discussing ultimate concerns. As we remember and give thanks, we discover that these seemingly fragile conversations bring wholeness and strength. They fashion within us insight and wisdom, so we might discover our own light, which can reflect the light of Christ. The saints are our travel companions, teaching us insight and wisdom for the living of our days.
As we call out the names of the saints that have gone before us in the last twelve months, we might remember all of the saints of our lives. We might recall the conversations and relationships, which have left an imprint on us. We can continue to learn from those moments, and we can also pass them on to the people around us. We can find strength in them as well as the light for the world.