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 (and 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.

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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.

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.

Why did Ruth make a startling (crazy?) choice?

a thoughtful childHave you ever admired something in someone, causing you to wonder: What makes them tick?

I’m not talking about wonderment in a swooning sort of way — more wanting to know what it is that motivates a person. What is their driving force?

The Bible doesn’t give us many clues but Naomi must have exhibited behaviors that Ruth applauded, eliciting a, “Hey, I want to be like her” response in Ruth.

This coming Sunday kids will be in worship as we celebrate All Saints Day, a time when we commemorate the lives of those who have shown us a picture of faith. Though this is a day set-aside to remember faith-warriors who have died in the last year, we can stretch our definition of a saint to someone who is living; someone who wears their faith on their sleeve.

Naomi must have worn her faith on her sleeve.

Ruth acted on her admiration for her mother-in-law Naomi. She made a startling choice:

Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:16b,c

Time Out. Talk about…speech bubble
Ask these questions at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.)

  • What could have made Ruth decide to follow Naomi’s God?
  • Who to you seems like they are close to God?
  • Have you ever thought about asking them how they got connected to God?
  • Identify people you know who seem to be “God followers.” Make a plan to ask them about their faith.
  • What is it about YOUR faith that might make other’s think: “how can I be like them?”
How are you wearing your faith on your sleeve?

a blue line


Photo credits:
A thoughtful child by Ryse Lawrence, in the Public Domain, offered at Pixabay.com.

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All Saints Day? Tell me more.

This weekend families join together in worship for a special service where we celebrate “All Saints Day.” (Which occurred on November 1st.)

What do you picture when you hear the word “saint?”
Someone who models perfection?
Who does/did no wrong?
Who is exceptionally holy and wears a halo??

I like the definition of All Saints Day, given by Gertrud Mueller Nelson in her book To Dance With God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration

All Saints Day is the celebration of those who have contributed successfully to the creation of the kingdom.

To be a saint doesn’t imply we have to be perfect!
It just means we wear our faith on our sleeve!

an old bell on a chapel In the worship service this weekend there will be a time where we remember saints who have died in the past year. As their names are read a bell is tolled.

This special time of the service is to remember — to thank God — for these saints who have shown others the Christian walk and faith.

They wore their faith on their sleeves!

 
Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble

Prepare your children for this portion of the service by talking about remembering. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a chance to prepare ahead of time. Talking about it after the service works too!)

  • Ask your kids what they remember about your last vacation, or a special birthday, or a visit with a friend or a relative. Invoke memories of good times! Why is it good to remember these occasions?
  • How is the celebration of Communion a time to remember?
  • Share with your kids, remembering whose example helped you on your faith journey. Didn’t grow up with these sorts of mentors? Talk about who is currently helping you build your faith. (We are allowed to stretch the definition of a saint to include those who are living!)
  • Use this as an overture to talking about who are the current mentors in your child’s spiritual journey. Whom would they like to have as their advisers? (Research shows that kids are helped to succeed in life when they have multiple non-family adults in their “camp.”)
Are you wearing your faith on your sleeve?


Photo credits:
A church bell in a chapel on the Island of Corfu, Greece, from my archives.

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