I take this picture several times a year – summer, winter, fall and spring. The cemetery is always a centering place. The prophet said it. “All men are like the grass. The flower fades and the grass withers but the Word of the Lord abides forever”. All Saints Day gives us the chance to remember that our blessed dead indeed withered and faded but because of the word of the Lord, because of the “everlasting Gospel” that sinners are made right with God by the doing and dying and resurrection of Jesus, they too will abide forever in the presence and mercy of God.
We see the withering and fading all around us. Look at the tree and the fallen leaves. Look at our own lives. Yesterday I was informed that Kay Kreklau’s mother had passed away. Kay is our LWML National President. I also blogged about the death of Pastor Dean Hartley whose funeral is tomorrow. Phillip Melancthon, Luther’s right hand man through the Reformation said that All Saints Day was important because it gives us three opportunities. The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy… because He has given teachers or other gifts to the church… The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see the denial forgiven Peter, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace truly super-abounds over sin, (Romans 5:20). The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues…
When we remember our blessed dead the most important thing is to remember the mercy shown to them by God in Christ.
We see the withering and fading all around us. We are withering and fading. I mentioned that Pastor Hartley felt the call into the Ministry when he was in Willmar and how we covered the tornado there. Well the tornado damage was in Wadena. I have a connection to Wadena and Willmar where some very supportive people are working with us on Project 24. I get Willmar and Wadena, Park Rapids and Grand Rapids confused sometimes. Mental confusion is a sign of the withering and fading. The aches and the pains, forgetfulness are constant reminders that all human beings are like grass.
Death is always the great leveler, but All Saints Day should help us strengthen our faith that because Christ rose from the dead we too shall rise to new life. That promise should help us to live in this life. Luther said ” By no means are we simply to assent to the words of the doctrine (of the resurrection). Christ does not design that we be able merely to accept and speak intelligently of it, but that its influence be manifest in our lives. How is a dead man profited, however much life may be preached to him, if that preaching does not make him live? Or of what use is it to preach righteousness to a sinner if he remain in sin? or to an erring, factious individual if he forsake not his error and his darkness? Even so, it is not only useless but detrimental, even pernicious in effect, to listen to the glorious, comforting and saving doctrine of the resurrection if the heart has no experience of its truth; if it means naught but a sound in the ears, a transitory word upon the tongue, with no more effect upon the hearer than as if he had never heard.”
All Saints should help us to imitate the faith of those that have gone before us. If they weren’t that faithful it gives us a chance to amend our lives and place them into conformity with the divine will. One again as Luther said “are we risen in Christ–is his resurrection effective in us? Is it merely a doctrine of words, or one of life and operating power?”