An All Saints Musing 11-1-2023
While it might sound a bit unusual, I enjoy and personally observe All Saints Day. While I don’t attend a worship service or light candles, I do take some very intentional time to consider all the saints I know and have known and think of all the unknown saints who have nonetheless influenced the church of Jesus Christ. I also often post something on my social media footprint about this day.
More times than not this post ends up leading to a conversation or an email or phone call about what All Saints Day is or wondering if I have become a member of another faith tradition.
To clarify, All Saints’ Day is celebrated by various Christian traditions, including some Protestant denominations (which includes most forms of Presbyterianism), though both its significance and observance may vary ranging from elaborate worship services to simply mentioning it on the Liturgical Calendar.
For many in the Protestant perspective, the focus of All Saints’ Day is often on honoring and remembering all Christian saints, not just those recognized by the Roman Catholic Church or other Orthodox Churches (Greek, Russian, etc.) though they are often remembered as well.
In many Protestant traditions, particularly those that have a more liturgical orientation, All Saints' Day is observed as a day to remember and honor all the saints, both known and unknown, who have gone before them. It is a day to commemorate the faithful individuals who have gone before and served as examples of Christian living. These churches may also use the occasion to reflect on the idea that all believers are considered saints in the New Testament, emphasizing the universal priesthood of all believers. This includes not only well-known figures in Christian history but also deceased members of the local congregation. It is a time to commemorate the faith and contributions of these individuals and to remember the "communion of saints" – the belief that all believers, living and dead, are part of the one universal Church who serve as a “great cloud of witnesses.”
For me personally this day helps me remember and give thanks to those who helped form my faith and whose footsteps I walk in. It also gives me great comfort to know that there are those who have traveled before me. It also reassures me to know they are still connected with me in the communion of saints which we profess every Sunday. Furthermore, it strengthens my faith to know that there were faithful folks who sat in churches around the world and were able to remain faithful even during wars, diseases, disasters, and economic depression.
On All Saints Day (in addition to many other days) I remember Saints I personally knew like Mema and Mommies and Grandaddies and Mr. Foster and Willie Madden and Miss Robbie and Uncle Shelvyn and Santa Ralph. Folks like Dr. Jack Presseau and Bobby Erwin and Ken Kason and Marc Maxwell. I know these are names most of you do not know but like Paul in writing about the faithful saints he knew “I give thanks every time I think of them.”
There are also saints I know and have the opportunity to serve with and worship with and fellowship with, in my present. Folks including many of you whose lives are an inspiration and whose faithfulness encourages me to continue to seek justice, love kindness and like them walk humbly with God.
May we each give thanks both to those saints who from their labors rest and those who in their continued living encourage and inspire us by their words and deeds.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Alleluia. Amen.
Grace and Peace,