All Saints' Day 2018

Published November 1, 2018 by SMBC

By Steve Wells, Pastor

For All the Saints, who from their labors rest, who Thee, by faith, before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed, Hallelujah!

I have sung those words fifteen times at South Main on the first Sunday in November and then called out the names of those we have loved and lost in the prior year as Jim Barkley tolled the bells for each name. All Saints is a somber celebration. We take time to remember those saints whose lives have graced and shaped our own lives and the life of our church. We make space to grieve family members who have gone on to be with the Lord. We pause to remember the great grace of the Gospel spoken by Jesus to Martha by the soon-to-be-empty grave of Lazarus: "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though they shall die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" And we sing back: "YES! We believe!" And because we believe, we have entrusted the ones we love most in the world unto the promise of eternal life. Because of the promise of Jesus, we know we can see again in the Glad Reunion our beloved kin in Christ.

Around the world, Christians call November 1st All Saints Day (which is where the name Halloween gets its name: All Hallows' Eve - the night before All Saints Day). The Church Year begins with Advent (the 4 Sundays preceding Christmas Day). It moves through Epiphany (the coming of the Wise men), the Baptism and youth of Jesus, and then turns toward Jerusalem and the trial, abandonment, and crucifixion of Jesus in Lent and His glorious resurrection at Easter. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and then move into Ordinary Time, where we, like the early church, focus on following Jesus day by day in our ordinary lives. The Church Year culminates with Christ the King Sunday, when we celebrate that the risen Christ is enthroned over all creation and is, right now, ruling as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (He is Lord, He is Lord, He is risen from the dead and He is Lord...) And just before Christ the King, in the triumphal swing to the finish, is All Saints Day: the reminder that Jesus, who promised to prepare a place for us, has come to bring His saints home.