October 31 is celebrated by children as Halloween (also called historically All-Halloween) with all the fun costuming and candies. But the word is really a contraction of the Old English word ‘’hallows’’ and evening. Hallows means “saints”. So, Halloween is the All Saints Eve, just like we have Christmas Eve Service. Now, All Saints feast, which is on November 1, has fallen into disuse in North America to the point that even in our Lutheran congregations we have to underline it the first Sunday of November, rather than on November 1. Some congregations (though it’s a minority) don’t even underline it. In some European countries the tradition of November 1st as All Saints Day is still very strong. On that day people visit the graveyards of their deceased loved ones and cover them with flowers as a symbol of life and of the hope of the resurrection. Even unbelievers will come to the cemeteries as a way to keep the memory of their loved ones alive and maybe with some unadmitted hope of a life after death.
Death is a real part of what we have to deal with every day. Many significant people are taken away from us and are simply not there anymore to cheer us with their presence and love. Pause a moment to remember all those important people who are not with you anymore.
All Saints Day is actually Good News for us Christians. We remember the generations of Christians who were redeemed by the Lamb, especially heroes of the faith. But we also remember simple believers that are not as famous. Those who fall asleep in Christ, trusting in His forgiving blood “are ‘before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’’’. (Revelation 7:15-17) They have the blessed vision of God. Seeing the One who is Love by nature makes them worship day and night and fills them with heavenly joy and peace. Wrapped in God’s love and light, their worship is as much spontaneous, as it will be in perfect harmony with each other and orderly (liturgical). The Scriptures also say that our souls will rest in God after death. Because Christ is the Lamb that was slain for us, we will not need to be purified for centuries after we die. For death will bring us in the greater presence of God, where we will be filled with Him. That will take away all our remaining sin because ‘’if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.’’
And this divine light will keep our souls alive and God-like until the great day of the resurrection of all flesh. On that day, God will give us back our bodies. Read 1 Corinthians 15. For Christ did not stay dead but conquered death so that He also saved our bodies. On the Last Day, on the day of the great Judgment of all people, we will experience fully our redemption in our bodies. They will be wrapped into God’s glory, love and light forever. All this because of God’s free grace and love in Jesus. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! Amen.
~ Pastor Jason
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