November is the month of Remembering
Week 1: All Saints, All Souls and Hallows’ Eve
Read Wisdom 9:1-9: The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God
The Destiny of the Righteous
3 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
3 and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
4 For though in the sight of men they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6 like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
9 Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his elect,
and he watches over his holy ones.[a]
November begins with a chance to remember holy people from the Christian story. Over the last few days we have had All Saints, All Souls and All Hallows’ Eve. These are some of my favourite days of the Christian year. I am fascinated by the stories of the giants amongst God’s people in different times and places.
Does it matter which ones you remember on which day? Some think so, with November 1st reserved for the official ‘big hitters’ of church history, I am not so sure about that! I love to spend these days remembering all those whose faithful lives have touched, and inspired, mine. You know who these people have been in your own life. We stand on the shoulders of giants – in fact, we don’t just stand ‘on’ them but also amongst them – within the communion of saints, on earth and in heaven, we are all together in one fellowship.
In recent years we have become more cautious of ‘hero worship’; we realise that many of those we have admired and loved have feet of clay. This can be disappointing, even shocking. But, in an odd way, it’s also reassuring. It’s a reminder that they were people like us – and that must surely mean that we can also aspire to leave the imprint of faith on others as they have left it for us.
And so we pray:
In every generation your light has shone through the lives of your holy people.
We remember those who have lived quietly in faith and those who have done extraordinary things.
(Take pause to think of those whose life of faith has influenced yours – and a great hero of the faith from whom you learn)
We think particularly of those whose memories we treasure. We pray for those, the memory of whom troubles us.
We stand before you as part of one great communion of saints. As we celebrate those who have gone before, turn our thinking to those who will come after. Fill us with that same light that shone in our ancestors-in-faith, so that we might also cast a trace of your presence on those we meet and build your church for the future, not the past.
With all your saints in light we ask this
Consider this question: if your life were the only Bible people got to read, what would they learn?
Barbara Easton – World Federation President Britain & Ireland Unit