by Christine Sine
November 1st is All Saint’s Day. This is one of my favourite celebrations as I love to look back and remind myself of those who have impacted my life – some are friends who still surround me, others are saints and supporters who have now joined the heavenly throng.The death of Eugene Peterson a couple of days ago has made me very aware of how important a celebration like this is and so I thought I would repost (with a few changes) this post from 3 years ago.
Remembering those who impact our lives, those who have gone before and those who are still with us is an important part of our faith.
The Episcopal Church website explains:
We step aside from the flow of the propers and celebrate all the saints. We stop. We notice, We are surrounded by a flock of witnesses in our midst – many who have gone before us, some we are just now releasing, and still more with a full life ahead of them.
I love the Anglican tradition of renewing our baptismal vows on this day. Reminding ourselves of the journey we have taken personally is a good place to start in remembering the saints of God. In this tradition, all baptized Christians, living and dead known and unknown are considered saints of God.
This is a special day for celebrating. First take time to reflect on your own faith journey. Remember the faithfulness of God in your past and name the people who have been particularly impacting in shaping your own faith. Notice the movement of God in the present and pray for those who continue to mentor and support you. Think about your hopes and dreams for the future and those who will help these come into being. Celebrate all that you are as a saint of God.
Celebrate At Church
If you really want to celebrate the spiritual significance of All Saints Day, a good liturgical church is the place to do so.
At St Andrew’s Episcopal which we attend, in the weeks before All Saints’ Day we prepare a ribbon of remembrance for All Saints’ Day. Write the names of those who have died on white ribbons that are then wound around the altar rail on All Saints’ Day. This is a wonderful way to reflect on the lives of those you love but have lost.
St Aidan’s Episcopal church on Camano Island where we worshipped a couple of years ago set up a special “remembering” table in the nave. The congregation was invited to bring photos or small memorabilia of dear ones who have gone before us and place them on the table. During the worship on All Saint’s Day there was a special blessing of the photos and memories.
Plan A Celebration
Many of us want to bring this celebration out of church and into our homes – here are some possibilities to consider for the future.
Hold an All Saints’ Day party – a great alternative to Halloween. Get everyone to dress as their favourite saint, or to bring a picture of this saint. During the festivities get everyone to share a story about their saint and the impact he or she has had on their lives. Or you might like to get participants to guess who each person represents.
Plan a family heritage party. Invite people to do some work beforehand researching their family history and particularly the Christian saints who were a part of it. Ask them to bring photos and stories to share. Finish with a time of prayer for all those that have gone before us.
Several years ago when my youngest brother went to Greece where my father comes from he found out that it is possible that our family name Aroney comes from the name Aaron and that our family probably originated in Jerusalem many centuries ago. It is probable that one of the reason they began the journey out of Jerusalem first to Constantinople then to Rhodes and finally to the tiny island of Kithera at the bottom of the Peloponnese mountains is because they became Christians. There are a number of Greek orthodox priests in my father’s family history and my Aunt Mary was a very devout Greek Orthodox Christian. I know less about my mother’s family history but would love to find out where her family too has had profound encounters with God.
Plan an All Saints Day pilgrimage. Again this might require some before time research. Explore the Christian heritage of your community. Where did the first Christians come from? How did they interact with the native peoples? Where was the first church established? Who were some of the early Christians who impacted your community. Plan a pilgrimage walk to the site of the first Christian community and if possible have a time of prayer and possibly even a eucharistic celebration to remember those who have gone before.
Consider an All Saints’ Scavenger Hunt with your kids. This site spells out what this could look like and provides a free template to use.
So how will you celebrate All Saints Day this year? Please share them with me. I would love to hear your creative ideas.