For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
But lo there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way;
All Saints' Day is one of my favorite days in the church year. We always celebrated Hallowe'en with witches and ghosts and pumpkins and candy when I was a kid, but I remember very early learning that Hallowe'en meant "All Hallows' Eve, " and that All Hallows was a time remember and celebrate all the saints. I grew up pretty low church Episcopalian, so there weren't a lot of saints mentioned besides the 12 disciples; nonetheless, the notion of a vast throng of saints was planted in me early.
No doubt that was reinforced when I joined the junior choir and learned that venerable All Saints' hymn I Sing a Song of the Saints of God:
I sing a song of the saints of God
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor and one was a queen
and one was a shepherdess on the gree.
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping to be one, too.
I loved this hymn and I still do. I think what appealed to me, even if I wasn't aware of it at the time, was the notion that saints are not just "holy people," not just biblical figures or story book characters, but real people--like me! Everyday people who struggle to live lives of integrity, to live the lives to which God calls us. Saints are the people we meet on the subway or in the coffeeshop or at work or at school--wherever we go about our life and work.
I've been blessed by the presence of saints in my life--those who touched me in various ways, who loved me, nurtured me, accepted me and yet called me to be more the person God created me to be. Today I remember the saints in my life, especially my father and my beloved mother-in-law, both of whom died too soon. And remember those saints whom I never met, but whose lives nevertheless shaped my. And I give thanks for all the saints.
Who are the saints in your life?