By Barb Mazarakos
“Saints” are not something that many would associate with the Lutheran church in the same way that we do with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters. We don’t elevate them to a higher “position”, or offer prayers to them as intercessors to God. As Lutherans we are taught that we worship and pray to our one true God. Yet every year we celebrate All “Saints” Day. Has anyone else ever found that confusing?
Perhaps if we think of All Saints Day by another name that it is commonly known, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, it will make a bit more sense. “Saints” are actually all true believers, living or dead, who believe that they are atoned by the blood of Christ. Now some of these saints may be more remembered for the specific work they have done or the stance they took on behalf of their faith and are therefore granted that special title that we know them by. But others are lesser known, and are revered for the blessings they have brought to the lives of those around them just the same. It is why, when a believer dies, we may refer to them as “Sainted”. They don’t carry an official designation, but they lived and died knowing their salvation was sealed on the cross and being an example of the love of Christ while here on earth.
This year as in others, we will remember those who have gone before. Perhaps you will be thinking of someone who held your hand as a small child and first taught you to say your prayers and read you stories from their lap each Christmas. Maybe it’s the childhood friend who helped you discover your love for music that you wish had lived closer so that you could spend some time with them before they passed on. For many of us, it may be the childhood teacher, pastor, and mentor who encouraged us to grow in our faith. All a part of the cloud of witnesses, cheering us on to grow in our faith and spread the Good News. All of them saints who have gone before us, but who first set us examples of faith, hope and love.
As we remember those who have passed on, I think of the second verse of the hymn, For all the Saints, written by William Walsham How:
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
That faith? That’s what All Saints Day is truly about. And it is definitely worth remembering.