Written by Julie Long, Interim Director of Staff and Congregational Life
Many of us enjoyed the fun of Halloween this past week, whether we dressed up in costume, took the kids out trick or treating, or handed out candy at the door. However you celebrated, I hope you at least had a good excuse to treat yourself to your favorite candy!
While Halloween gets all the attention in our culture, the real holidays (holy-days), at least for the faithful, are the days that follow. All Saint’s Day is celebrated by the church on November 1, and All Soul’s Day is the following day. One of my favorite preachers, Barbara Brown Taylor, wrote about the distinction between the two. She says, “On All Saints’ Day we remember all those saints who have left a name, whose stories we know something about—St. Peter, St. Paul, or St. Mary. Then on All Souls’ Day, we remember all the faithful departed, whether they made a mark in the world or not, the saints who are known to God alone, like relatives and friends and the old woman across the street. Between the two we come into communion with all those saints and souls who have gone before us, with all our kin, known or unknown, to whom we are related by Christ’s blood.”
The juxtaposition of these two holidays marks a wonderful truth about communities of the faithful. The fact is that some people live remarkable lives of faith. They are publicly recognized for their acts of kindness and justice, or for their leadership, or for their righteousness. These are the folks that we celebrate on All Saints’ Day.
But the vast majority of the faithful are unrecognized heroes. Each congregation is filled with them, including ours—the Sunday School teachers who prepare and show up every week, those who rock the babies in the nursery or who mow the lawns of the elderly, those who bake casseroles to share with the bereaved. You can name who those people have been for you.
Barbara Brown Taylor went on to say, “The reality is that all of us who have been baptized are already saints, have already been given our halos, because all it takes to be a saint is to belong to God…. Once you have linked up with Christ’s body, once you have been baptized in his name and shared his body and blood, you have everything you need to be a saint. You have your identity, your halo, and a choice: to live as who you are or not.”
Our faith is founded on the experiences of ordinary people who do not change the world in huge waves but by small ripples of faith. Most of us are not called by God to do miraculous things. But each of us is called to live as who we are. Thanks be to God for the gift of each of these saints among us, doing our best to live as who God created and called us to be.