Today the Church celebrates its love-hate relationship with All Saints’ Day, that wonderfully comforting day in which members of the Church militant remember those in the Church triumphant, both known and unknown, while simultaneously longing for the day when Christ will return so that those who remain, too, can gathered to Christ.
The Church has always been in the business of remembering the faithful departed. She has always, as she has been able, kept track of the names of those who died in the faith and the day on which they died, so that their faith and witness can be remembered for ages to come.
But on this day, we also remember those saints whose names we do not know, those who, perhaps, died as martyrs, died alone, or died before they were given a name.
That is why All Saints’ Day is such a unique day in the Church Year. It does not commemorate just Walther, or just Luther, or just an apostle. It remembers all the saints, all the holy ones of God, all those who died in their baptismal faith.
But the day is really not even about the saints; it is about Who the saints were about. It is about Christ. It is about the One to whom those saints pointed, for whom they died, in whose name they perished. So we remember them, but we really remember the One who died for them, the One in whom they now find rest, the One who made them saints—made them holy—in the first place.
So, sing “Behold a Host Arrayed in White.” Sing “For All the Saints.” Mourn those whom you will receive back on the Last Day. Remember your grandmothers, children, spouses, and friends who have gone on before you. But cling more to the One who gave them baptismal life, a pious life, and now—perfectly—eternal life.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and tot eh sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:22–24).
One thought on “dying in the faith”
Thank you for this remembrance. Out here, in the middle of the heartland we did indeed sing “Behold a Host Arrayed in White” this morning at Matins. And it was glorious!.