One of the great things about absorbing an ecumenical spirit over a lifetime is the capacity to draw from streams of Christian tradition that are other than my own. My tribe within the Christian family has a very simple, lean, and adaptable loose-on-the-ground outlook, influenced strongly by the 19th century Second Great Awakening of the US frontier and the outcomes of the Wesleyan and Whitefield revivals of England. Catch cries and slogans like “Christians only, but not the only Christians,” and “no creed but Christ” mixed with sharp Lockean logic and sawdust trail evangelism marked us as suspicious of what was regarded as extraneous feasts and rites.
Hence the glazed over eyes and polite murmurings when I mention a desire to acknowledge All Saints Day – the day following Halloween (meaning “all saints eve”). My defense is a biblical one, taken from the Hebrews 12:1.
A combination of my Celtic bones, researching family history and my septuagenarian awareness of my many mentors that are no longer physically present, having been promoted to glory, orient me to the worthiness of this ancient rite carried by other liturgical streams,
Hence, on the first Sunday in November, it was my practice in later years of leading congregations to lead rites of thanksgiving and reflection on the lives of church members, ordinary folk who had gone before us, commemorating their legacy and contemplating that which we would leave for those who came after. It was yet another avenue for honoring the eternal Christ who dwells in our midst.
And so happy All Saints Day! For a reflection that goes deeper, click here.