In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
On November 1 the Christian Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints, a sort of “catch all,” if you will, for those who have gone before us and are with the Lord, those who have been a faithful witness to Christ in all times and places. These are the sort of “D-list celebrities” of saints, those who aren’t Peters or Pauls, people who get their own days on the church calendar, but nevertheless deserve remembrance before God and our thanksgiving for their faithful witness. The Church remembers those whose names may be lost to history, but are not lost to God. These unknown saints whom we celebrate today are those who have made a profound impact in various places in various times. They confessed Christ, some to death, which is why the church wears red today, acknowledging that some are martyrs, their blood flowing because they refused to recant, they would not deny Christ or the right confession of the Faith, and so met the sword or gallows or lions or fire. Regardless of how they died, today they rest with Christ, their souls safe under His Altar on high. They intercede for you and me, crying out to God, “how long, O Lord?” They are eager for us to be taken out of this vale of tears, eager for the Resurrection on the Last Day when all will be restored to the way God intended it to be.
What role do these people play in our lives? Each of us have someone we can recall who has made a profound impact in our lives. They taught us the faith, read God’s Word to us, gave us a shoulder on which to lean when the fight was fierce and the warfare long. We can learn from them, how they experienced God’s grace even in the face of trial and tribulation. Today remember the Ruths and Edwards, the Johns and Stephanies, those people whom the world did not know, but you knew. Remember and give thanks to God that they helped you grow in the faith, that they were a good example to you of how you can help someone else, how you can share the Word with someone else. You wouldn’t be where you are today without someone who shared the Word with you. They may not be on a list of saints in the front of a hymnal, but they are in your mind, a central part of who you are, and they are in Jesus’ embrace as He wipes away every tear from their eyes and warms them with the sun that never sets.
This host that has gone before us is where they are because they were Baptized into Christ. His death and resurrection were made theirs. He washed away their sin and filled them with the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who caused them to be important people in your life or in the lives of the countless number in heaven which no one can number. God demonstrated His love for you by showing His love to them, and that chain goes all the way back to the Apostles and Prophets, all the way back to Adam and Eve. Throughout this world’s history there has been an unbroken chain of people who have pointed others to Christ, eager that those who hear them would rejoice in the same salvation which gives them such joy.
Someday someone will remember you on November 1. They’ll sit in these pews and give thanks for the Gospel you shared with them. And you can rejoice now and then because they will be looking to the same Christ to whom you have looked, taking comfort in the one who gave you and them the kingdom of heaven.
Let us sing our grateful hymns to God for all His saints, those who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and stand in His presence, all those who lived with their Lord in view and taught us to do the same. In Christ, they rest, and in Christ, you will, too.
The peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.