“And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in God.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, and their deeds follow them.” Revelation 14:13”
Commemorations of Early Martyrs
The early festivals of the Church included commemorations of the martyrs who had died for their faith. The Book of Revelation provided hope to the persecuted church near the end of the first century. In the vision in chapter 7:9-17, the faithful who have been marked with a seal on their foreheads (v. 3) will be protected during the coming tribulation. Later on, the author of Revelation would provide further assurance of God’s love and care, not only in the future, but in the here and now.
Remembering all God’s Faithful
November, especially All Saints’ Day, marks the time of year when we remember all those who have entered into the fullness of time, which we call eternal life. The veil between heaven and earth is transparent as we participate in the act of remembering. We remember with our voices, hands, and hearts.
We lift our voices to God in the singing of hymns that bring us closer to our loves ones. We open our hands in prayer to give thanks for our beloved ones whose life and spirit continues to touch us in our pilgrimage here on earth. We use our hands to light a candle to remember their light in our lives and the ever-present light of Jesus that shines in the midst of darkness.
We remember, with our hearts breaking open, that we belong to God in life and in death. Deep in our hearts and down in our guts there is the hope that nothing in all of creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God for the gift of remembering: God remembering us, and the blessed memory of our loved ones.
Hymn for the Saints: “The Saints Are Standing Row on Row”
The saints are standing row on row engulfed in light and peace, stand face to face with God their King whose love will never cease.
King David sings with harp and lyre he’s cantor of the town, and Mary sings Magnificat before her lowborn son.
Now Simeon begins his song with tambourine and drum while Miriam and Hannah sing ta-rum, ta-rum, tarum.
And Luther sings just like a swan, while John Sebastian Bach, the great, great Back directs the choir . . .
There’s Louis Armstrong with his horn and Israel with psalms. The pious take their usual place and gravely wave their palms.
From every nation they have come to sing in this great choir, their music raises up to God whose face is like a fire.
Author unknown, translated from the Dutch by Gracia Grindal. Can be sung to the tune, St. Anne (O God, our help in ages past).
Sharon Ely Pearson is a 30+ year Christian formation veteran, currently serving as an editor and the Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated. Wife, mother, grandmother, and author, she enjoys connecting people with each other and the resources they need for growing in the knowledge and love of Jesus.
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