Thursday was Halloween. Friday was All Saints Day or All Souls Day. It’s not a day that most Protestants pay attention to. I don’t much myself. But these communion gigs sort of force me to think about such things.
All Saints Day means different things to different Christians. For me it’s a day to remember all those brothers and sisters who have gone on before us. I like to think of my grandparents and of those sort of famous Christians I admire like Keith Greene and C.S. Lewis. So that’s all of six people. It’s hard to imagine the size of it all. The communion of saints. The church. Those still here, down the street, around the globe. Wikipedia reckons over two-billion Christians around the world. And those who have gone on. Our own family members, plus all those who are lost to history, and those who made a lasting mark that we remember–Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, Saint Peter. All of us. And All Saints Day is a day to remember and celebrate our giant family.
So when we come to celebrate the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ, we don’t come by ourselves. We come together as a community. Communion, right? And we don’t come as just this community, but with all those people I mentioned. The Assembly of God down the street, the Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe, the Coptic church, the Amish, small home churches, hidden underground churches, cowboy churches and snake handlers. And don’t forget my Methodist grand parents, the baptist preacher Marin Luther King, Jr., the catholic reformer Luther, the Catholic nun Mother Theresa, and the Jewish fisherman Peter. All our bothers and sisters.
That’s a pretty diverse groups. Can you imagine the worship planning meetings. We probably have more in common with our non-believing neighbors than we do with most of that list.
Jesus saw this when he prayed for his disciples. He prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
I don’t know if it’s good theology or not, but I like to imagine this communion of saints, those still here, and those who have gone, united, not just in this communion time, but in all we do to grow the church, to build the kingdom, to love each other, take care of each other, and to strengthen each other to take this love out into the world.
I’d like to finish with something from the episcopal book of common prayer.
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.