“Fear the LORD, you saints of the LORD; for those who fear the LORD lack nothing.” Ps. 34:9
Dear Redeemer Family:
Nov. 1st is All Saints’ Day. You know that, or you should. On All Saints’ Day we remember those who have died for the faith and those who have died in the faith. We also recognize this day all the baptized. I should say, ALL the baptized. We are sinners. Remember that the next time you look in the mirror. We are saints, as well. Remember that too. We are sinners in our own right, and saints by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection for us. In the Sermon on the Mouth (the Gospel lesson for Nov. 1st ), Jesus speaks his blessings on all his saints. On All Saints’ Day, as every Sunday, we saints on earth join the saints in heaven in singing God’s praises. We join them at the meal as well, keeping in mind that what we receive here is but an appetizer from the heavenly banquet table.
In the imagery of All Saints we see the tablecloth of the heavenly banquet, the baptismal robes of those in the New Jerusalem, the celestial cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. This is rich, profound imagery for a time in the Church Year that looks out on a darkening and bare natural world. As I write this, it has been raining for a couple of days. The sky is very dark and dreary. Leaves are falling from the trees like snowflakes. And the temperature is hanging around 40 outside. That comes with the knowledge that early in the morning of Nov. 1st , All Saints’ Day, this year, we will be setting our clocks back an hour and things will be getting really dark all that much earlier through November and beyond.
This environment, combined with unresolved grief over death and loss, leaves many people vulnerable during this part of the year. I have had to perform several funerals since the beginning of this pandemic. In reality, they have been little more than graveside services. Thanks to restrictions, visitations and the funeral services themselves have been greatly curbed. As several Funeral Directors and I have put it, “This is no way to do a funeral.” Many funerals and memorial services have been postponed “until a later date.” Because of that, grief is largely unresolved. And I worry about the loved ones left behind. We are in a terrible new reality, at least here on earth. And people fear.
But, we proclaim a different reality; a different world; a different kingdom. In the midst of this trying and dreary time in our earthly lives, we look forward to the Kingdom of Heaven. There, the bright shining city on the heavenly hill, Our LORD gathers all of his faithful witnesses. His light shines out through the dreary darkness. There we know that all of the saints will be received into the arms of Our LORD’S mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. It is a glorious vision of our hope, even in the midst of our present increasing darkness. And in that hope, we hope; for ourselves and for those who have gone before us. Amen.