Thursday, November 1, 2007

For all the saints

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, alleluia.

But lo there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way;
Alleluia, alleluia.

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?


J said...

All Saints' is also a day that I enjoy. My son is in junior choir and they do a little production to go with the Saints of God hymn. Gets me every time. I've been better about keeping tissue with me for the inevitable tear or two.

The last few years, the vestry and church administration have decided that All Saints is a good day to kick off the annual pledge drive. And I find that annoying. Wait a week, or something, I think, because All Saints' is powerful enough that it should stand on its own.

I recognize the importance of the pledge drive to the overall health of the church - I do. We must be able to talk about how our parish is supported financially without so much discomfort. But I still think All Saints' Day should be left alone.

I have no idea when and how other parishes do start pledge drives. I didn't really notice until four years ago. After my father died (one of my saints), I was still mourning as All Saints' approached. I looked forward to hearing his name read. That was the first year they started the pledge drive on All Saints' and they chose to do basically nothing other than the junior choir song. Instead of a sermon, there were two vestry testimonials on how and why they chose their pledge amounts instead of a sermon. I was stunned and sad. Even though they backed off from that intensity in successive years, I still find the segue in the sermon from saints to cold hard cash forced.

Rev Dr Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kris said...

It does seem like bad timing to start a stewardship campaign on All Saints. We started ours the first week in October so we're mostly done now.