1. For all the saints, who from their labors rest, who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
This hymn is published in 508 hymnals, in multiple languages throughout the world. These words appear in the Presbyterian, Baptist, Praise y Adoración, Catholic Book of Worship, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Anglican,
Evangelical Lutheran, Moravian, Seventh-Day Adventist, Salvation Army Song Book, and the United Methodist Hymnal, to name a few. Why do Christian communities of faith all agree this hymn is of great significance for worship together? Because celebrating the life of our saints and proclaiming the Resurrection are central to our life together as Christians.
We talk a lot about all we have lost this year because of the implications and dangers of COVID-19. We have lost the ability to gather in large numbers as the community of faith. We have lost intimacy with one another. And, we have lost 28 saints in our congregation this year.
I’ve spoken to many of you on the phone in the wake of our saintly losses. We have felt the burden of grief and loss together. We have been shocked by sudden loss, and have longed to know more of the story. You have shared with me the heartbreak of not being able to do more for the families who have lost. You have shared the longing to be together to celebrate the life of our long-term friends and sojourners in the faith. We have felt helpless in how to respond, when we know phone calls and cards are the best we can offer those who grieve.
One of the church’s main functions is to gather as a Body of Christ to witness to the Resurrection. That means, we show up for funerals. We witness to our faith by our presence with those whose hearts are broken. We sing the songs of faith. We hear the Word read and proclaimed. We pray for the dead, and for peace which passes understanding for those who mourn. Graveside funerals have happened. Others have waited to hold a memorial until we can more safely gather together. Whichever the case, our hearts cry out, and we long to be the church together – in person.
All Saints day is on Sunday, November 1st. Our staff are preparing meaningful worship services for our FUMC church family on that day. We will honor our saints by lighting candles, reading their names, and proclaiming our faith in the Resurrection together. We will have an All Saints Service on YouTube worship and Sunday 10am live worship. We will light luminaries on the sanctuary front steps at 6pm on November 1. You’re invited to attend at a safe distance outdoors in the post office parking lot for a short service of candle lighting and prayer. Even though this won’t completely fulfill the longing of gathering together, our times call for creativity and grace in meager provisions. Let us re- member the promises of eternity as we gather to bear witness to hope and grace in these uncertain times. Let us celebrate those who have gone before us and honor them by continuing to live lives worthy of the Gospel.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)