How I survived All Saints’ Day with help from an impenetrable fog

The day’s first light disclosed a thick, soupy fog. My initial thought:
Drat! Another bleak, dreary day; so common in autumn around these parts.

The weather matched my mood.

A foggy day on the lake

How appropriate, I thought, for this to be my window-view…

On the day we celebrate “All Saints’ Day” in church – an event that I wasn’t sure I could handle.

But then…

(surprisingly)… upon closer scrutiny of the dark greyness…

I discovered…

amiable beauty in this somber landscape!

Curious coloration.
A softness to edges.
An almost mysterious misty-look.
Peaceful.

So what is All Saints’ Day (United Methodists? Celebrating Saints?)
and how does it relate to an impenetrable fog with uplifting elegance?

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First, All Saints’ Day…

  • Actually occurs on November 1st but is celebrated on the first Sunday in November.
  • Got started for the Western church, around the 4th century, initially honoring those who had died, who had led holy, laudable lives for Christ. (Think of the capital-S-real-stuff Saints.)
  • Later expanded to include everybody – dead or alive! Anyone who has shared their faith; who has leveled the path before us. Often referred to as the great cloud of witnesses.
  • For United Methodists, “saints” are different than those in the Roman Catholic tradition. In the FAQ about what United Methodists believe, it clarifies our tenets on this matter.
  • Includes in particular remembering those who have died in the past year who were members of the congregation, and… well… those who were close to you who have recently left this earth.

The latter point ties the fog to the memory of saints.

I lost both my parents this past summer. Five weeks apart. I wasn’t ready to face (again) a remembrance of so-close, lost saints. (Are we ever?)

It has been hard. Sort of like being in a deep fog.

But then I remembered… As he receives the Ten Commandments, Moses goes up the mountain and “approached the thick darkness where God was.” Exodus 20:21.

Darkness can contain the presence of God.

The fog this morning was a reminder. In what could be seen as dreary darkness, when I looked closer, I found reason to give thanks for beauty. God was with me in my darkness.

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Photo credits:
An as-it-was, un-retouched photo from my archives. Shared at Flickr; licensed under a Creative Commons (BY NC-SA 2.0).

Are you encircled by an uplifting, nurturing, cloud of saints?

On All Saints Sunday we  wrote on a tablecloth the names of saints in our livesThis weekend during worship at FUMC, we celebrated All Saints Day.

As always happens during this day of remembrance, we think about the “saints” – those who have contributed to the spiritual journeys of people whose lives they have touched.

On All Saints Day we recognize those from our church who have died over the last year; a bell tolls with the name of each saint that is read.

 
But people don’t have to be dead to be called a saint! Anyone who personifies God’s extravagant love, or serves others tirelessly, or who nurtures and inspires us, is a saint!

They represent the face of God in our lives.

So to remember all of these saints in our lives, we wrote their names on a tablecloth. Since it was a Communion Sunday, we were invited to make note of our saints as we came up to share bread and juice in community.

I like how after Communion had been served, the pastors took the tablecloth and laid it over the Communion elements. It sort of looked like a cloud.

The tablecloth covers the Communion elements

We call our saints “a cloud of witnesses.” Isn’t that a wonderful metaphor? Can you picture yourself protected and supported by a puffy cloud?

I hope we see more of this tablecloth in the future.

The tablecloth is set up for the 2nd service
The tablecloth is ready for the 2nd service on Sunday. A lot of saints are noted!

a blue line


Photo credits: Photos are from my archives.