There is something about this piece of artwork that got a hold of me when I saw it. The artist does liturgical pieces and other art with a religious and spiritual twist. Reading some of her musings I got the impression that she wanted to synthesize All Hallows Eve and Halloween which could be a blog in itself but anyway……..
We celebrate “All Saints” on November 6th this year and I will not be in my congregation to be with my people but will be preaching along with President Fondow of the Minnesota North District at Trinity in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Contemplating that service it occurred to me that All Saints is slowly becoming my favorite Sunday of the liturgical calender. I jumped over to the Minnesota North website and was glad to see Rev. David Strohschein’s letter concerning the celebration. His sentiments echo mine so I lifted his letter. You can read it at the Minnesota North website listed on the right hand side of this blog. Here is David’s letter –
It has become one of my favorite Sunday’s of the Church Year – All Saints’ Day – for at least two reasons. Reason number one has to do with people in heaven who I have known personally. Reason number two is even more personal. More on reason number two in a few moments.
Who do you know who is in heaven? For me, my list is long and begins with the saints who were near and dear to me during their lives here. That part of my list has grown by two in recent months as the Lord called my Mom home in September and our stillborn grandson in August. It also includes my Dad and my grandparents as well as uncles and aunts. After family, my list spills over into the many, many brothers and sisters in Christ whose funerals I conducted while in the parish ministry as well as co-workers in our Minnesota North District. Each time we celebrate All Saints’ Sunday and the words of Revelation 7 are read, I cherish the opportunity to look into that sea of faces of those wearing the white robes and singing to the Lamb and see the joy-filled faces of the saints who were near and dear to me as well as the faces of brothers and sisters in Christ. And as I see their faces, I thank God for their victory in Christ! That’s reason number one why All Saints’ Day is one of my favorite Sundays.
Reason number two – the more personal one – is this. As I grow older, the realization becomes more clear with each passing day that I am one day closer to being in that crowd! While I don’t know when my finish line will come, I know I have run more of my race than what I have left to run. I want to finish my race as did Paul – strong – strong in faith and in service to the Lord. And in that desire I am comforted in knowing that even as the Lord has safely delivered all of my beloved saints into glory, He will also deliver me. “He who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And so, as I sing words such as verse three of “For All The Saints”, those words become a fervent and personal prayer: “Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old And win with them the victor’s crown of gold!”
Now, there is one more reason All Saints’ Sunday is a favorite of mine. Perhaps of all the Sundays we observe, this one best underscores why God has called us into His family and made us saints. That reason is simply this. He wants heaven to be full! He wants that crowd to be of such grand number that “no one can count” exactly how many are there – even though He will know exact the number of souls in glory! And it is the glorious and awesome privilege which He has given us – the task of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ – and His accompanying promise to bless our efforts to bring the saving Word to those have not heard nor believed – that is at the heart and core of All Saints’ Sunday. It’s a day to celebrate being given that mission! It’s a day to rededicate ourselves to that mission! And, it’s a day to receive encouragement for doing the mission as we are given an advanced glimpse of the day when by the grace and power of God and His Gospel it will be “mission accomplished!”
First of all my sympathies go out to David and his family. I saw him the day after he buried his Mother and he gave a powerful witness to the “hope that we have” as Peter would call it.
Secondly I have that same feeling that I have work to do and I need to get it done while it is still day, “before the night comes when no one can work”. I don’t know when the race will end but I have the feeling that running the race with perseverance is getting to be more “needful” if that makes sense. I am getting more peeved with shallowness and slovenliness in the ministry and I pray that all ministers of the Gospel will dedicate themselves to excellence, especially in their preaching. Our primary task is to bear witness to Christ and that needs to be done with the utmost of our effort and skill notwithstanding the work of the Holy Spirit of course.
Thirdly, I have to do the 6 degrees of separation. A girl friend of mine wanted to go to Concordia, St. Paul back in the day and I was going too. She received a letter from a young lady named Karen Mielke (I hope I have the spelling) explaining to her that she, Karen would be her “big sister” on campus and show her around and help her get acquainted. My girlfriend changed her mind and went on to another school but I met Karen and some of her friends. One of her friends and I started going together and that friend became my wife. Karen’s mother and my mother in law were best of friends. Karen and David were married and there you have the 6 degrees of separation. Life in the “communion of Saints” has a lot of these connections and networks. Let’s use them to build up the Kingdom until we join in the feast of the lamb in His Kingdom that has no end.