For All the Saints

Today is All Saints Day in the Christian tradition. It is part of a “triduum” three days of remembering beginning with All Hallows Eve on October 31, All Saints on November 1 and All Souls on November 2.  In protestant traditions that celebration All Saints it is usually celebrated on the first Sunday of November. Today is somewhat unusual because November first is ON Sunday itself.

For many years, I have lead All Saints services. It is important to remember, to grieve and to give thanks. “For all the Saints, who from their labors, who Thee by faith before the world confess, Thy name O Jesus be forever blessed, Alleluia, Alleluia!” This is the first verse of very traditional hymn sung on this day. I sang it this morning as I have on more All Saints Sundays than I care to remember. After more than thirty years of ministry, so many saints I have celebrated and grieved.

At West Heights, we light a candle for each person who is named who has died in the last year. This year we had fifty five candles, but not as many from the life of our congregation, as there had been in the last three years. Once all the candles had been brought to the altar it looked like this:

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The candles lit the front of the sanctuary and we remembered and gave thanks. Grief is not momentary. It comes in bits and pieces, rolling waves and cold winds of sadness. We remember not just those who have died in the last twelve months, all those we loved are remembered and grieved in our spirits. It is not something we just “get over”, we live with the loss and we choose to love and to laugh and to voice to those who we miss deeply.

This year after the candles had been lit and we had prayed, a beautiful song was sung. I wish I had the recording from worship this morning, but this youtube video will have to do. It is performed by Colton Dixon and  is called “Through All of It.” The story of my life and the lives of those who have gone before me are stories of grace, of love, of sadness and sorrow, of victories and losses and joy and laughter. God has been there, “through all of it.” On this All Saints Day, I give thanks for the One who has been there for me on every part of the journey.

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