Every year about this time our piano is decorated with the fruits of the earth that mark the coming of the Harvest Festival. Pumpkins and gourds and autumn leaves surround the clock reminding me of the passing of the time and the days and the minutes and our own mortality.
There are two great festivals that take place this time of the year of which I am particularly fond. They are Reformation and All Saints Sundays. The motif of Reformation for me has always been Isaiah 40;6-7 – A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever”. The motif of All Saints is Psalm 116;12- 15 – What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD. I shall pay my vows to the LORD, in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints”.
Sunday we will recognize and remember and thank God for the members of our churches who have died in the last year and we will thank God for them and their gifts and God’s mercy upon them. To remember our faithful departed with thanksgiving is comparable to a Lutheran funeral and a strong corrective to what we hear in many funerals today. It focuses on Christ Jesus but without ignoring or denying the particularities of the individual Christian. As D. Richard Stuckwisch has written, “This commemoration of the saints is an extension of the honor that we rightly give to pastors, parents, and other persons, each within his own office and station in life. In each case, we believe and confess that what these faithful people do according to God’s calling and command really is the work of God himself. Thus, we also recognize that Christ and his Spirit have accomplished the purposes of God in the lives of the saints who have gone before us in his word and faith. ” (“Let Us Keep the Festival: That Christ Be Manifest in His Saints” CTQ Volume 78:3-4 – July/October 2014)