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All Saints Day

What is All Saints Day?

All Saints Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living Believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us, encouraging us, cheering us on.

The great hymn writer (and missionary to the Georgia coast) Charles Wesley picks up on this theme in his hymn “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above.” In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages:

            Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone,

                  for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.

Alongside the likes of Paul, Peter, Barnabas and Lydia, we tell stories of the grandmother who took us to church every Sunday. We remember the pastor who prayed with us in the hospital and the neighbor who changed the oil in the family car. We give thanks for the youth leader who told us Jesus loved us, the kindergarten Sunday School teacher to showered us with that love, and the woman in the church who brought us food when we were home sick with the flu.

Retelling these stories grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be.

Protestants and All Saints Day

Protestants don’t like to separate the big-name “official” saints of the Catholic church from the ordinary, garden-variety ones. We have our own hymn for the day, and it’s “For All the Saints.” After all, Paul addressed his letter to the Corinthians to the “saints” in Corinth, and then went on to castigate them for their heretical views and divisive behavior. We are all saints because we have been made holy in Christ, not because we have distinguished ourselves with holiness.

It is also important that the dead are not forgotten. We stand on the shoulders of men and women—distinguished and ordinary, recently deceased and long dead—who fought the battle and kept the faith. God used their life and faith to give birth to ours.

When we remember the dead, now with the Lord, we receive new strength for the battles we face every day. We realize again that we do not exist for this life only. We remind ourselves that the daily grind, the regular struggles with temptation, the tough decisions we have to make, are part of a battle in which we will finally triumph. Making worship inclusive of the whole community of saints—the living and dead—broadens our understanding of the church, reminds us of those who went before us on the journey of faith, and reinvigorates our trust in Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death. It’s right there in one of the best-loved and most frequently sung of Christian hymns:

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Last Published: October 27, 2017 2:21 PM

Milledge Avenue Baptist Church
1690 South Milledge Avenue
Athens, GA 30605

ph: 706-354-0090
fax: 706-354-0344

Carrie Juarez Hayes, Office Manager?

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