All Saints Day

I am writing this blog on All Saints day. All Saints Day is the day that follows Halloween. In fact, Halloween only exists because of All Saints’ Day! And I’ll probably finish this up on All Souls’ Day which is tomorrow.

A brief history on all 3. All Saints’ Day was first. The church began commemorating its great leaders and heroes who had died, especially those who suffered martyrdom, and they would observe them on the dates they died. The faithful would gather at their tombs and celebrate communion, sometimes using the top of the tomb for the communion table. Later on, many churches were built over these sites. Over time the number of saints and days became too numerous so it was decided to mark one day per year as All Saints Day.

Halloween history is somewhat uncertain, but most likely very pagan. It was believed that this was a night when ghosts and witches were most likely to wander about. The night was marked by bonfires and feasting (which obviously, years later, would lead to handing out Twix bars to young children).

All Souls Day was the day following All Saints’ Day. And prayers would be offered for those who had died and were possibly in purgatory (a troubling thought). One source says, “They died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls." It's hard to believe that’s not ALL of us.
Why am I writing this? Because I believe “All Saints’ Day “ is a great idea, and a wonderful way to remind ourselves of lives well lived! And maybe we don’t do that often enough. All Souls’ Day for me would be a waste of time because I do not believe that the Bible teaches the concept of purgatory, (and if there is one, it happens to you and I while attending junior high school, or when we’re forced to listen to a political debate). And Halloween? Weird day that still belongs to our sovereign God! Have fun giving out candy and loving on neighbors!

Having served as pastor for a long time now, I’ve had the honor of presiding over many funerals. Standing with many of you by gravesides and in funeral homes and reflecting on precious grandparents, moms, dads, spouses, aunts, uncles, and too many children. I sometimes go through my files and prayer cards just to reflect and to thank God for saints who have moved on to glory. Our Lord doesn’t want us living in the past, but it is good to remember the past and especially those saints who have already graduated and are inhabiting that beautiful place called heaven. There’s a great old hymn we would sometimes sing growing up, it’s entitled “For all the Saints”. Here are a few lines from it:

“For all the saints who from their labors rest, who thee by faith before the world confessed….”

“Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might, thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight, Thou, in the darkness drear, there one true light; Alleluia! Amen."

Take some time today and thank our Lord for the wonderful examples of faith who have gone on before us! (And in case you are unaware, the biblical definition of a saint is simply a person who is trusting in Christ alone for salvation!)

Pete Nelson