November 1 is All Saints Day in the Christian Church. While we do not venerate saints in the same way other traditions do, we do have enough Knox and St Andrew’s churches along with other saint named churches to know that we take the concept of saints seriously.
We also have a further, more informal understanding of the communion of saints; namely those faithful Christians who have gone before and make up ‘that great cloud of witnesses’ that we read of in Hebrews 12. In the season of Covid, it is appropriate that we remember them.
As we head towards two full years of Covid-19, I have been reflecting on the communion of saints and in particular the opportunity to remember our cloud of witnesses on this coming All Saints Day. As I consider the past pandemic season, I realize that almost all of us have had the experience of being unable to faithfully respond to the death of loved ones.
- We have experienced the tragedy of those who have died of Covid – alone
- We have lost loved ones, but been unable to celebrate their lives
- We have been unable to attend funerals or memorials due to attendance restrictions
- We have been unable to adequately comfort friends in their loss
- We have borne the unspeakable heaviness of the toll of this pandemic
This All Saints Day we might want to take time to acknowledge the pain and loss in our midst. I believe it is important that we recognize the grief our people are carrying and respond to those who have not had an opportunity to adequately grieve or acknowledge their losses. In 2021, November 1 is a Monday, so, we could acknowledge this on October 31, or November 7 (realizing that Remembrance Day is also coming) Perhaps our Remembrance Day recognition could also be expanded this year.
I have included some resources that might be helpful for such a service. It might be the whole service and it might be just a part. It might be worth recording so that people can view it privately or share it with other loved ones. It is also important that we as leaders acknowledge our own grief in these times. It has been hard on all of us but, we are people of hope; people who are comforted by a loving God.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV)
Click here for worship liturgies for All Saints Day