Today is Nov. 1, and in the Church calendar, this is All Saints’ Day, the day designated for the remembrance and celebration of the saints of God who have gone before us. I must confess that for most of my life, I cared nothing for church tradition, and gloried in being an iconoclast. But I’m finding that the man I have become is growing in appreciation for Tradition.
Regular readers of this blog have encountered this in past articles. After all, I spent more than half a year writing about the Apostles’ Creed, parsing out what the different lines and phrases had come to mean to me. I’m thinking about doing a short series on several of the church prayers and blessings, such as the Gloria Patria and the Doxology. I’ve even returned, in my own fashion, to the use of beads in prayer; no, I don’t use a rosary, but I have adopted the use of a set of Anglican prayer beads that I designed and had my crafter daughter make for me:
In a day or two, I’ll be posting about how I’ve transitioned from someone who dug Larry Norman and REZ Band to today’s hymn-singing fuddy-duddy, but since today is All Saints’ Day, let me address that, specifically. As we are members of our local Methodist congregation, this paragraph from Wikipedia’s “All Saints’ Day” entry is appropriate:
Protestants generally regard all Christians as saints and if they observe All Saints Day at all they use it to remember all Christians both past and present. In the United Methodist Church, All Saints’ Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those who have died who were members of the local church congregation. In some congregations, a candle is lit by the [a]colyte as each person’s name is called out by the clergy.
This we did this morning, indeed. And I found myself very moved as I thought back over my life and remembered those older Christians who ministered to me, who loved me and invested in my life, to help me in following Christ. I remember Otho Baker and his wife Laura.
Back in the 70’s, the Bakers helped to run a Christian servicemans’ center, and their gentle patience, love and care helped this newly-converted sailor to grow in Christ. To this day, I can remember Mr. Baker, a retired Navy man, brewing gallon jugs of tea, trying to study Watchman Nee’s inscrutable Spiritual Life, and leading in evening devotions at the center, singing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” in a raspy voice.
And then there were Mrs. Drum, Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Freeland, three older ladies from the Alliance church, who took young Wife under their wings, giving food, fellowship and advice to a young Navy newlywed couple. As that paragraph says, we Protestants believe all Christians are saints, set apart to God, and these three women were saintly.
Saints are not made in cloisters, but in the homes and offices of everyday life. We all know these saints in our lives. They are the everyday folk who sit beside us at church or kneel with us at prayer meetings; they help plan weddings, they bring food and comfort during loss. They share our joys and sorrows throughout our lives, and most of all, they share the love of Jesus with us.
I have met so many wonderful saints of God that I have been thinking about lately. I find that I am just now coming to appreciate just how glorious “fellowship of the saints” actually is. And when I think that those wonderful Christians, who were in their 60’s when we knew then in the 70’s and must surely be in Heaven now, I come to realize just how great my treasure in Heaven is.
With those people in mind, and many like them, I found myself being whelmed this morning as we sang this song:
I hope you enjoyed your All Saints’ Day. I know I did.