On November 1, we celebrate All Saints Day and I thought that you would appreciate some of the resources that are available here on Godspace to help you celebrate. Here are some suggestions on how to celebrate:
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 means everyone including ourselves.
So as you get ready for All Saints Day, think about your own faith journey. Remember the faithfulness of God in your past. Notice the movement of God in the present. Think about your hopes and dreams for the future. Get ready to celebrate all that you are as a saint of God.
But don’t stop there. This is a special day for celebrating. Here are some suggestions:
This year (2022) we wrote icons for All Saint’s Sunday. We were given blank icon templates and asked to write an icon of a “saint” who influenced our lives. Some chose famous people they have met like Desmond Tutu but most of us wrote about family members – mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers being the most common. We then shared some of the stories. It was a wonderfully enriching process.
Plan a special “remembering” table to set up in the nave. Have congregants 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, hold a special blessing of the photos and memories. Our church, Saint Andrews Episcopal in Seattle provides white ribbons for people to write the names of their departed loved ones on. These are wound around the communion rail and hung around the church for the season after All Saints Day.
- To adapt this for 2020, ask congregants to have their photos and white ribbon or paper ready during your online service so you can still participate in this activity at home. Recommend that they hang their ribbon/paper in a place where they will see it throughout the season.
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.
- Absolutely possible to do online through video chat!
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.
- Also, a lovely idea for gathering together online and connecting with others in a deeper way for this holiday.
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 reasons 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. nI know less about my mother’s family history but would love to find out where her family has had profound encounters with God too.
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.
This Taize service from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church may also inspire some ideas for celebrating or just allow you to contemplate the celebration of this day.
What are your ideas for celebrating All Saints Day this year? It is a great alternative to Halloween and we would love to hear what you are doing.
We encourage you to also check out these great posts written a few years ago –
- One Protestant’s Reflection on All Saints Day by Kathie Hempel and
- All Saint’s Day: An Opportunity to Remember Every Day Saints by Lynne Baab.
- The Gift of All Hallow’s Eve – Jan Blencowe
- Coming Home for All Saints Day
Below is a beautiful poem written by Ana Lisa de Jong –
THE COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS
He who sits outside time
wraps us in light.
We, a globe suspended in the sky,
are circled by the saints.
We circle the centre
of our solar systems place,
in an ancient universe
growing every day.
Yet we are still firmly
and tenderly held.
Secured by laws of gravity,
We, who sit inside time
live tied yet to the ground
He, outside us where all is clear,
reigns in community.
We cannot know,
but sometimes have the strangest view
of a world beyond our grasp.
We sense a smile, we feel the robes
of ones gone long before.
It does not matter if we are yet to know,
enough we feel their presence.
The love of those who hold us close
in the communion of heaven.
I also wrote this prayer a number of years ago in reflection of All Saint’s Day:
God we are surrounded by a cloud
Faithful witnesses who have gone before
Those who have loved where we would have hated
Those who have healed where we would have hurt
Those who have spoken out when we would have remained silent
God may we walk in their footsteps
Learning courage from their sacrifice
Gaining strength from their faithfulness
May we learn to give so that others may receive
May we learn to love so that others may be set free
May we learn to die to ourselves so that others might live
God may we join that cloud of faithful witnesses
Treading paths of loving obedience
Leaving footprints that others desire to walk in
God may we too lead kingdom lives