Thursday, October 29, 2015


Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day, the day after All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween. Halloween is always a strange time. For some, this day is a pagan holiday and celebrates the “dark” side, the devil and his angels. I guess this comes from some researchers who say that Halloween was originally a Celtic celebration and that they believed that on a dark night, the spirits of the dead were allowed to roam the streets. Some make a jump from this to the worship of Satan and evil and stuff like that. I now understand that All Hallow’s Eve was not in the beginning a Pagan festival. Even if it were, so were weddings and funerals and Easter and Christmas, and Christians managed to absorb them and turn them into Christian celebrations. All Saint’s was started in the church in the fourth century AD to celebrate the lives of martyrs, long before the Celtic celebrations. The date was changed to Nov. 1 in the eighth century AD. Methodists have joined others during what was called Liturgical Renewal, when the major Protestant Groups joined in a Common Lectionary and common celebrations. Early on, folks were concerned that this was a call to worship the dead. We Protestants are generally against that, though you wouldn’t know that to look at some of us. No, we don’t worship the dead, we honor them. On Nov. 1 or the Sunday nearest that date, we invite the family members of those who have died since last All Saints’ Day to worship with us as we light a candle and name the name. It’s a difficult time for some of us. Not wanting to grieve in public, so to speak, we privatize our feelings. This day is an invitation to come to church, the community of faith, to the same altar where we joined in worship when the deceased died. Here we join together to acknowledge our huge loss and our grief. It is not easy for any of us. Many years, we are still a bit raw from the experience of loss and death and it’s all we can do to hold it together. That’s why we do this together. It’s like all our worship. Sometimes we don’t feel like saying the creed or praying or singing hymns. Sometimes we feel deserted and lost, and alone. But, in worship, we stand and say the creed together and we worship together because Jesus has promised to join in when we are together. Not that Jesus is not there when we are alone, but Jesus promised to come when we are together. No more keeping it all for ourselves or to ourselves, our grief is the grief of the community, the church, and we weep together in common. We weep together. But, there’s more. There’s so much more. We don’t deny death or gloss over loss. We don’t pretend that death is not real. We walk the way of death together because we know there is so much more. Believers in Jesus Christ know about resurrection. And, we know eternal life is knowing Jesus right here – now. All of those who have died now rest from their labors and they join with us in a great celebration. In all our human-ness and sin, in all our differences, and all our opinions, we are lovely creations of God. Though we were not ready to let go of these who died, God receives them with open arms and brings them, ahead of us, into that Kingdom which knows no end. For all the Saints who from their labors rest… We feebly struggle; they in glory shine. We can trust God that all our futures will be caught up in his kingdom. They are already singing. Can’t you hear them? Death cannot stand. Death cannot hold. Death will not win. Jesus is alive and so are they. So, are we. To this- we are witnesses. Thanks be to God.

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

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