All Saints Sunday

Even though All Saints Day was last Monday, November 1, today is All Saints Sunday, which is the church's opportunity to celebrate All Saints during regularly scheduled Sunday worship. If you've been around this blog for a while, you know that All Saints Day really resonates with me. It is a time for the church to occupy one of those "thin places" where there is but a gauzy barrier between the living and the dead - the living and the living-abundantly. It is a day when we focus on light and it is a day when we remember that passage from Revelation 21, where God promises, at the last, to make his home among mortals, to wipe every tear away, to be perpetual light for all people.

On Monday, Christina Villa considered light and joy and God's saints in a reflection written for the UCC's Stillspeaking Daily Devotional:
“Let the saints be joyful in glory.” (Psalm 149, KJV) Every year on November 1, All Saints Day, I remember Sacred Heart cemetery in the town where I grew up. It was a huge Polish cemetery situated on a long sloping hill next to a busy intersection. Starting at dusk on November 1, the eve of the Catholic All Souls Day, the entire cemetery would be lit up with thousands of red votive candles on nearly every grave. It looked like the dead were getting ready to have a party and had turned on all the lights in the house.

It sounds weird to say that the cemetery looked festive, but that’s exactly how it looked. Lit up like Times Square, it looked more like life than death. It confused the categories of living and dead. It made the dead seem less separated from us, and not so different from us. When I was a child, those candles burning all night on all those graves used to make me think that it must make the dead people happy.

Of course that’s a childish belief with no theological depth, but now I wonder: why not? If death is not the end, then it’s not the end of celebration or joy. And not just the theoretical, pie-in-the-sky kind of celebration and joy, either. The real thing, the exact same happiness we know now, the kind that makes us light Advent candles and put up Christmas lights. The kind of happiness that makes us wish it could last forever. And possibly, it does.
We've just barely crossed Daylight Savings Time, and are no strangers to the way that the days have been shortening as the earth spins toward winter. The very creation around us nudges us toward a deeper sensitivity to light in all aspects of our being, and so it is on this All Saints Sunday that we once again draw near to these words of promise from Revelation 22: "And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever."

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