Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

YEAR C 2022 all souls

All Souls, 2022
Wisdom 3:1–9
Psalm 130
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
John 5:24-27

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today we observe the Feast of All Souls, now unfortunately called the Feast of All the Faithful Departed.  That puts up something of a wall between ALL the departed, and the faithful departed.  I know that wasn’t the intention of the name change, but—in my opinion—it takes us a step backward.  But never mind all that; let’s take a moment to distinguish between All Saints Day from All Souls Day.

The Feast of All Saints is intended to honor all the saints who have gone before.  You can quickly get the gist of the intention by looking at hymn #287 in our hymnal, “For All the Saints.”  The Church sets aside All Saints Day on November 1st to remember all the heroes of the faith.  But it does not necessarily include all the heroes of our own personal faith.  The ones who drove you to Sunday School, or mentored you through middle school, or who brought you back to Jesus after your own personal time in a “distant land.”  Not to mention the people of a different faith or of no faith who still impacted your faith.

All Saints Day is a little muddy about whether my grandma Baum and your Aunt June are included in the feast.  And that’s why I’m so grateful that we have this day, All Souls Day, set aside to honor those we love but see no more.  These ones don’t enter into the level of having the Pope notice them, but if we’re honest, we might place them above the Pope.  For each of us, there are people we remember because of their incredible impact on our lives, whether or not anyone else remembers them at all.  In a sense, as long as we have breath, these loved ones will be remembered and celebrated, whether or not anyone else still remembers their name.

And so All Souls Day is set aside for us to remember and mark them as beloved of God, and beloved of us.  They may not have a feast day in the Church, but they have feast days in our hearts.

As we heard, Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

That can sound strange to our ears, as though Paul is telling us not to grieve for those we have lost and loved.  But that is not what he is saying at all.  When Paul writes, “so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope,” he is not suggesting that we should not grieve.  The key to that sentence is the phrase “as others do who have no hope.”  

It’s a different kind of grieving, you see?  We all mourn losing the ones who mean the world to us—the All Souls for whom this day is named.  We grieve and we mourn because it is how God created us to be.  It is right and good that we should grieve, because the measure of our pain is an indicator of the depth of our love.

But we should not grieve “as others do who have no hope.”  We do not grieve as others do because we grieve with hope.  We grieve as people who have hope in the promises of God.  We grieve as people who have hope, because we trust that no one is ever beyond the reach of God’s loving embrace.  We grieve as people who trust that those who are gone to us are not gone to God.

It is good and right that we should mourn and grieve the absence of those whom we love yet see no longer.  But we grieve and mourn as people with hope, because we worship the God who created it all, redeemed it all, and saves it all.

“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.”  All are made righteous in Jesus, and they are all, ALL in the hand of God.


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