For many across the world November 1st represents not only a massive sugar hangover from the night before, but also signifies a day in which we remember the lives lost in the previous year.
All Saints Day means different things to different denominations but the primary purpose is to remember the lives lost from one’s congregation or family during the year.
Many churches celebrate these lives in worship on Nov. 1 or the following Sunday. Some churches hang banners for each person that entered the resurrection, others place one banner with all names, some churches list the names in the bulletin, but most remember them in prayer.
The question is, why? Why do we remember and pray for the dead? What purpose does it serve? For Catholics it represents praying for those who died just in case they have not yet reached Heaven. Most reformed traditions use the day to be reminded of our own mortality and that in life and in death we belong to God.
When someone dies they join the church triumphant, joining with all the saints who forever sing to the glory of God. In reformed traditions that means a believer who has died, as opposed to the catholic tradition of sainthood for those who have been shown to have powers after death: check out this article for some new saints this past week, http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/10/19/kateri-tekakwitha-vatican-prepares-for-first-native-american-saint/
When we remember those who died, when we remember how precious this life is, we are reminded of the life eternal and we are also reminded of how we are supposed to live. Our emphasis is on the whole people of God; we give glory to God for the ordinary lives, for each faithful person who walked this life in faith, and who has departed this world. Many times we give thanks for people after they have died in a special service of worship away from our normal worship. All Saints day lets us remember the faithful who have died in our regular worship, reminding us how each life lived in Christ is part of the Holy Chorus.
We are reminded on this day that we are a part of a continuous community of faith, that those before us have overcome darkness and persevered in faith. People have taken the gospel to the ends of the earth, prophets of every time and age have spoken to the church to be faithful and we have been witnesses. It is a day in which we can see that we are part of a great tradition, a part of a family of believers. We can see how God was faithful through the generations and that in our own lives we can be reminded of all those who have persevered through great difficulty.
So on this All Saints day, be encouraged that no matter where you are in life or in your faith journey, no matter what troubles you are going through, you are not alone. You are a part of the fellowship of believers and God has been faithful through every age. Remember the Saints, those who have lived ordinary lives of service and faithfulness, for we are all a part of that journey.