Each year, on the first Sunday in November the Church recognizes All Saints’ Sunday. Historically, All Saints’ Day actually falls on November 1st; the day immediately following Halloween. It is a day the Church has set aside to remember all the saints of the Church both living and those who have gone before us to glory. For this reason, the Sunday immediately afterward is designated All Saints’ Sunday.
From the earliest days Christians have believed that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the Church triumphant) and those who are living on earth (the Church militant). In the 12th chapter of Hebrews, the writer points to this when he speaks of that great “cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. When we recite the Apostles’ Creed, we reference this when we say we believe in the “communion of saints.” John Wesley once called All Saints’ Day, “a day I peculiarly love.” It is a day that should be remembered and honored.
One of the ways we do this at Dunwoody United Methodist Church is by having, “The Naming of the Honored Dead.” At each of our three worship services this Sunday, we will read the names of all those members of our Church who have died since All Saints’ Sunday last year. This year, we will be specifically remembering thirty-nine members of our Church who have gone before us and entered into life immortal.
However, if you are like me, you will also be remembering many others who may not have died this year, but have still gone before us to glory. I will be giving thanks to God for all those God has used to help influence my life in positive and Christ-centered ways. I will be remembering the people whose lives are represented by the names I read and those whose names are only read in my heart.
I mentioned that All Saints’ is a day to be remembered and honored. It is also a day to be celebrated, for All Saints’ Sunday does not just look back, it also looks forward. We tend to have a one-dimensional view of life. We tend to think that all we see is all there is to reality. We tend to forget that we are strangers in a foreign land and our real home is in the fullness of the presence of our Heavenly Father. All Saints’ Sunday reminds us we are headed somewhere… toward Someone. And that Someone is God.
See you Sunday, if not before!
Rev. Dan Brown