Every November Christians all over the world celebrate All Saints’ Day, a day to remember all the saints who have died, to give thanks to God for their life and for the gift of eternal life.
Saints are people who died in a full state of grace. Grace is the undeserved love and forgiveness of God. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again you were given a full measure of grace that cannot go away. Baptism makes this truth and promise real. It is a daily and final washing away of all our sins. This means that YOU are a Saint - forgiven and holy all the time (even as you and I fall short and are sinners).
All our lives we are actively dying and it is when we die that the power of death is finished - but the good news is that God is not finished! Instead God gives us new, eternal life. The Bible says:
Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were, therefore, buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with Jesus in a death like his we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5).
Eternal life is resurrection life: death and life, failing and then getting back up again. It means that while we may experience times of death, shadow and even despair, we also know that we will be given new life, light, hope and relief. Resurrection life is knowing what is like to be searched for and found and “lifted out of the miry muck” (Psalm 40).
The beauty of All Saints’ Day is that you and I do not need to make the people who died into “Saints” - into perfect people who never did anything wrong because when Jesus died, he died for all sinners and it is Jesus’ grace and goodness that makes them (and us) “Saints”.
We keep the name “Saint” when we die (holy, forgiven, redeemed) but we leave behind the name “sinner” - all the dirt and grim, the shame, guilt, worries and burdens this life are finally washed away for good.
During All Saints’ Day worship many congregations take time to honor and remember those who have died by lighting candles, reading names, and ringing bells. I invite you to come to worship, light a candle in memory of those you love and imagine them free of “every weight and the sin that clings so closely (Hebrews 12).”