We celebrated one of my favorite holy days in worship today, All Saints’ Day. I tend to be pretty expansive in my definition of “saints,” and I encouraged my congregation to do so as well. I asked that we remember the stories of the saints, in the same way we remember the stories of our grandparents or friends–the stories that have been told over and over again, so well that we know the exact timing and inflection with which they are supposed to be told. In this way, they are kept alive.
But even if their stories are forgotten, their names hold those stories in time. During our sermon time, I passed out cloud-shaped pieces of paper and invited people to write down the names of the people they consider to be “their” saints and cloud of witnesses, the people who have been heroes and sources of support and inspiration. We hung them up around the sanctuary, so that we could be surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses and saints. We remembered all those who have come before us and imagined all those who are still to come.
On this day, I always feel them, these saints. I feel their presence in the church, in my life, palpably crowding around and filling up the spaces. The church never feels empty on All Saints’ Sunday.
With humility, I give thanks for the saints who have broken ground ahead of me. For pioneers and theologians and scientists and activists and ordinary, everyday, un-remarkable folks: I would not be who I am if you had not been who you were. Thank you, and bless you in your well-earned eternal rest.