Forty years ago this year, Anne Fremantle wrote a book entitled, “Saints Alive.” In it, she traced the lives of what she called, “Thirteen Heroic Saints.” Included were such heroes of the faith as Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, Benedict, Helena and eight others.
Behind her book was the basic premise that the lives of these saints who have gone before us are still relevant, inspiring and helpful as we seek to live out our faith today. Hence the title, “Saints Alive.” As you might expect, since that time, a number of other books have been written with the same title by different authors but with the same premise.
This Sunday at Dunwoody UMC we are celebrating All Saints’ Sunday. All Saints’ Sunday is that time when we remember those who have been a part of the fellowship of our faith, but who have died and gone home to be with the Father. Specifically, we will remember those who have died since All Saints’ Sunday last year.
At the same time, it is an opportunity for us to give thanks for their lives, learn from their experiences, stand upon their shoulders and draw strength from their witness.
At a designated time in the service, we will have the Naming of the Honored Dead. As each name is read, family members and friends will be invited to stand in memory of the person. A candle will then be lit and a bell will be rung. We are not simply remembering those who once lived among us, we are celebrating that cloud of witnesses that continues to live among us today.
Much of the music for the 11:05 a.m. Traditional Service will come from Maurice Duruflé’s “Requiem.” Duruflé was first commissioned to do this work in May 1941. He completed it six years later in September 1947. Some of the sketches in the work use themes from the Gregorian “Mass for the Dead.” The organ and choral version of the piece is considered a tour de force for the organ with its many expressive colors. He dedicated the work to the memory of his father.
As we did last year, we have invited our Stephen Ministers to be a part of the services. Stephen Ministers are lay people in our congregation who have been specifically trained to provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing challenging times.
In each of the services they will serve as ushers, greeters and participate in aspects of worship like Communion and reading of the Scripture. Immediately following the services, they will be available in the Chapel for anyone who wishes to come and light a candle and pray for a loved one.
All Saints’ Sunday is always a meaningful time. This year it promises to be especially so.