May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord our strength and our redeemer.
We know this day well,
With its costumes and candy:
But today, we also celebrate the church holiday that actually takes place tomorrow:
All Saints Day.
And actually, Halloween, has its roots in All Saints day.
It actually COMES out of the Christian tradition of All Saints day.
“All Hallows’ Eve” marks the day before “all-hallow-tide”
Which is the liturgical celebration dedicated to remembering the dead,
Including the saints (known as hallows),
Martyrs, and all the departed.
Hear that word “hallows”? As in: Halloween?
Or our father, “HALLOWED be thy name?”
And I really think that All Saints Day is one of the most under-rated church holidays.
It is overshadowed by its more glamorous Fall cousins, Halloween and Thanksgiving. (Even though Halloween comes from All Saints day!)
Kind of similar to how Holy Saturday gets lost in Holy Week.
But All Saints’ Day can bring us a unique blessing just as Holy Saturday does.
Both are days that are about how some of the darker parts of human experience:
Can be washed in holiness, when they are brought before God.
Like Holy Saturday, All saint’s Day lets us attend to our grief:
Recognizing that grief is a real part of human experience.
It’s a day set aside for us to remember those who have died:
The marvelous known saints of the past:
And even the people we personally knew and loved.
Those who were important to us,
Those who made an impact on our lives,
And Those who have died—joining the great cloud of witnesses.
Like Ash Wednesday,
All Saint’s day reminds us of the reality of death.
And like Holy Saturday, it’s a day set aside for us to remember and grieve.
But All Saint’s day is also about the promise to come.
There are certainly many tears--
And we know that tears are a part of our human experience.
But there’s desperately good news, even amidst the tears.
The “Good News” of All Saints day:
Is the gift of the human family:
The gift of the church:
Of communion with all of Christ’s body.
The collect for All Saint’s day sums it up perfectly:
“Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in ONE communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord.”
We didn’t have that collect today,
Since it’s not ACTUALLY All-Saints Day.
But I think it’s important to mention it.
Because the collect makes it clear that there is ONE Communion:
For ALL the saints of God.
Today we have space to remember and grieve,
But we do not do it individually:
We do not do it alone.
We do it together:
while simultaneously celebrating the hope of what’s to come.
That’s why today’s liturgical color is white.
Not the purple of Ash Wednesday,
Or the black of Holy Saturday.
The liturgical color of Easter, of Resurrection, of Celebration, of Baptism.
In fact, All saints day is a traditional day for baptisms across the church.
Where new members are welcomed into the body:
Because All-Saints day is not about death:
But about God’s promise of life:
Uniting us to each other,
And even to those who have died.
So, while All-Saints day allows us to acknowledge the reality of tears and grief:
It’s also a reminder of the hope to come:
Of God’s power over death:
Of communal fulfillment:
Of a new earth, a new heaven,
a new city, a new people.
Where death and weeping are no more:
And ALL are united at the heavenly banquet.
In the New Testament, the word “Saint” was used to describe all of the baptized:
Hence, another reason for today to be a baptismal day:
A day for making saints:
For welcoming new saints.
For honoring past saints.
It’s not just about those popular and holy people like Saint Francis.
On All Saints day, we are reminded of our connection
Our common communion with ALL the saints:
With ALL the baptized:
With each other,
With those we love,
With those who have gone on before us,
And in our prayers, which we share with one another.
All saints is a celebration of Christ in his WHOLE Mystical body.
A celebration of the Angels, Archangels, and ALL the company of heaven.
(There’s that ALL again)….
All saints is a celebration of what it means to be a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
United to ALL the peoples
ALL the nations,
ALL The faces,
Across ALL The earth.
Is the best part, as well as the hardest part.
(We’ve talked about this before)
That ALL means ALL.
It might be people we disagree with.
It might be people we don’t like.
Or in today’s Gospel story:
It might even be a Scribe.
Now, today’s Gospel reading is not ACTUALLY the reading for all-saints day.
On All-Saints day we would have heard the story of the raising of Lazarus.
But we ARE celebrating All-Saints today,
Even if we aren’t using those readings.
And this Gospel reading,
Which is Mark’s account of Jesus’ conversation with one of the scribes,
Is quite fitting for this celebration of ALL Saints.
Because the scribes usually got it all wrong.
But not this time:
This time, the scribe answers Jesus’ question correctly.
The scribe admits that all of this God business is not just about law and ritual:
It’s about relationship.
And the most important thing, is to put people first:
Even above the law.
In this reading:
A SCRIBE of all people:
Gets it right,
And Jesus tells him that the Kingdom of God is near to him.
This might not mean too much to us today.
But in Jesus’ time,
This was HUGE.
That the kingdom could be open to even a scribe:
Those dummy scribes, who often just followed the rules,
But didn’t really have the true, pureness of heart.
And in this case:
Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom is available to everyone:
That ANYONE can become a saint of God.
Even the scribes.
Even the pharisees.
ALL of them.
And that’s the other thing about All Saints day:
There’s nothing individual about it.
It’s about ALL of us:
And ALL who’ve come before us:
And so today, we’ll offer up our prayers:
On behalf of each other.
Our prayers of petition,
Our prayers of gratitude,
Our prayers for those we love who have died,
And for those who are still with us.
During the prayers of the people,
We’ll actually pray for every person listed in our parish directory.
Every one, by name.
ALL of us.
And maybe we’ll see that little glimmer:
That little flicker of the heavenly banquet:
That common communion with one another:
With ALL those we love,
With ALL we have not even met:
With ALL those who have died:
And ALL who will come after us.
Maybe even ALL those we don’t really care for.
With everyone: With ALL the saints of God.
Enjoy the weekly sermons at anytime.