In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer talks about the faith that motivated the saints. He begins to name the saints, using them as examples of what faith does. He chronicles the stories of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. He concludes the list with saints known in that day. In the Epistle they are unnamed, unknown to us, but known to the writer, and, most importantly, to God. In the middle of the chapter, the writer summarizes the lives of these men and women: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
The feast of all saints in the Lutheran Church is observed a little differently from its original intentions. Originally, the Feast of All Saints was established as a sort of “catchall” day for the Church to observe and give thanks to God for those men and women who had made a memorable contribution to the Church on earth, but for whatever reason were not given a set date on the calendar. They didn’t rank with Apostles and Evangelists, famous Martyrs, or others, so they were remembered as a collective group on the first of November.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.