Greetings, Bay Shore
October is almost done, and this Sunday is not only the first of November, but it is All Saints Day.
When Martin Luther was alive 500 years ago, there were three holy days that Christians were required to attend. The first two—you can guess. Christmas and Easter. This makes sense, right? But, All Saints Day, no matter what day of the week it fell on, was THE day when everyone attended worship. In fact, history tells us this date and remembrance has been in place as early as the late 700’s A.D.
Yes, you read that right. One can successfully argue that Christmas and All Saints Day carried the same amount of weight in the life of a Christian in the late 700-early 800’s A.D. In fact, because Martin Luther knew that everyone would be going to church on November 1, he posted the 95 theses on the doors of Castle Church on Oct. 31, 1517.
Now, Christmas is lovely, to be sure. And Easter, well Easter is the reason for being a Christian. But All Saints Day—this holy day is why I continue to believe.
On All Saints Day, the veil between Heaven and Earth is more thin. On this day, I recall those we have lost in the last year, but I also recall all of the saints who have died in years past. Loved ones, friends and strangers I knew only through their words or actions which tradition and history keep alive. On All Saints Day, when the veil is thin, I can almost feel my cloud of witnesses. Memories feel sharper, and grief burns differently. I can hear the gentle words of love from voices silent for years, I can almost smell my great Aunt’s perfume.
On All Saints Day Past, I have sought and received closure. I have given forgiveness to those who died before we were able to make up and move on. Life is messy. All Saints Day is a good day to spiritually cleanse and let go.
In the Church, it is a holy day. A day we recall the saints and know, with absolute certainty, that they are with us in spirit, and we will join them all in Heaven as Jesus promised. Because this is the promise of the cross, is it not? That we will all be gathered together again in the heavenly realm of God? Easter, blessed Easter, tells us HOW this was made so—but on All Saints Day, we actually turn to God and say, yes, we believe.
I need All Saints this year. We have lost 9 lovely saints from Bay Shore since our last All Saints Day. I want to remember them and grieve. And with COVID-19 sharpening our lives and winnowing out the chaff, we know what is important and we know who we miss. I will be thinking of so many beloved persons this Sunday as we gather for worship. But I will also be rejoicing, knowing that someday the veil will not just be thin but will be gone, and we all will be together.
I pray you find comfort this Sunday, with a thinner veil and a pull from your cloud of witnesses.
I pray you forgive those who cannot ask for your forgiveness but still want and need it.
I pray that you join us this Sunday at 10 a.m. when we remember those we have lost most recently. Grief when shared with others can change to comfort and peace.
May God bless you and your loved ones, the living and the dead.