All Saints Day is an important one to us in the Christian year.
As we get older and experience more life and have more people who are important to us die, this day becomes more and more significant.
There are certainly historical underpinnings found in many denominations of the Christian church. And, while those are important, they are not as important as the opportunity for personal reflection it provides.
Unfortunately, as Christians, we don't get a good religious holiday that sort of orders us to reflect on our year. Our Jewish friends have the High Holy Days that encourage believers to think through their last 12 months and remember positive things and repent of negative things. This is an important practice for us humans.
Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for people to reflect on their lives. Many do it at / around the New Year, many Covey fans do a day in review., etc. But there seems to be something important about doing this review of your life and the ways the important people in it have influenced you within the frame of a person's spiritual life.
It helps each of us pay attention to where we fit in to the world. When we remember those we love who have died, we are doing a lot.
- We remind ourselves of the fragility of these bodies.We remember the depths of love.
- We remember the ups and downs of relationships.
- We remember that love and money can sustain life, but they cannot prevent death.
- We find ourselves thinking about how we might fit in to the Big Picture.
- We are forced to ask what we really believe about what happens after our last breath.
All Saints Day really is an important day. If we are willing to engage in the process of remembering who we have been with and what we can learn from them, it can be an important day for us.
- Have I done enough?
- Have I done the right things?
- Am I following the right path?
- Do I stand on the right side?
- How much time do I have left?
All Saints Day provides a chance for some weighty and beneficial reflective time.
On the average day, questions of Significance and Life and Death are never too far from the surface.
We believe every story and statement of scripture engages its reader around these same sorts of questions.
For example this week, we see the prophet Daniel struggling with visions of life and death for his people and the land he knew. He was put in a position to offer prophecy against all of the current inhabiters of the land - all of the controlling kingdoms of the time....if that does not make you examine your own mortality, nothing will. His vision foretells the fall of four powers and the rise of s single power...a single way of life.
Psalm 149 is singing praises to God for a few different stated reasons, but the underlying one is that The Lord has kept the writer and his people alive and has punished or killed those who might want to oppress them. The culture at this time was marked by two ways - good and bad, right and wrong, allies and enemies, life and death. There were no shades of gray. The souls of the enemy were not of great concern.
In the greeting from a letter to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, Paul is encouraging his readers to remember that the life and death of Jesus and the ways they are following / serving God all have bearing on each individual's possibilities after death.
In the passage from the gospel of Luke we see Jesus teaching the disciples. He is offering a series of Blessings and Woes.....and the Blessings and Woes seem to be instructing folks that their actions today matter and have repercussions. He is encouraging them to think about the lasting significance of who they are and what they are doing. He also encourages them to bless those that may hurt them, that may curse them, that may repress them - to love their enemy as well as their neighbor, not in the future but right now. Jesus is encouraging them to live with some shades of gray.
It is fitting that, as the leaves turn from green to red to yellow to brown and then fall, leaving branches bare, that we consider the departure of breath...of life as we know it right now. It is a fitting time to think about the Saints, all the saints, and the ways that their lives made a difference.
Gracious and mysterious God,
I want to pay attention.
I want to remember.
I want to love and be loved
even when it seems unlikely.