Sunday, November 3 we celebrate All Saints Day. We read the names of our loved ones in our congregation who have died during the past year, and we remember that they are alive in Jesus Christ. Many of us will light a candle in remembrance of a loved one, recalling the words from the gospel of John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
I’d like us to remember that All Saints Day is not meant to be seen like a funeral. We may feel sadness yes, but the tone of the service is hope and celebration of new life. We are reminded again that death does not defeat us. Our new life in Jesus Christ, which began in our baptism, is now complete in Christ, in eternity. “For if we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:5)
All Saints Day also reminds us that Christ shall return in power again to establish God’s kingdom for eternity. It will be a day of justice and mercy, a day of judgment and forgiveness, a day when all the dead in Christ shall be raised to live with God forever. The book of Revelation assures us of God’s promise of transformation of life, “See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they shall be God’s peoples, and God will be with them; God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
My heart is heavy as I write these words today. In just two days I will officiate at the funeral of Lara Brynildssen, only 51 years old. I pray that God’s Word will comfort us that day and strengthen our hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pray for Lara’s family and friends!