A few years ago, I ran across a video of a toddler playing in the rain for the first time. As someone who loves the rain, I was immediately captivated. It is one of those steady spring showers that soak the earth and sound great on a metal roof.
The young girl, about 15 months old, holds her hands out in amazement. Wide-eyed and mystified, she half-whispers, “Wow…” as she stands on the driveway. She spins slowly, her wows proclaiming wonder at this miracle falling from the clouds. She reaches, shakes her hands, smiles, and laughs…full of joy and wonder at this grand miracle. When her family tries to bring her inside, she kicks her feet in disapproval, and as soon as she is set down, she runs back into the rain. She screams with a burst of excitement! A sound of pure joy!
I believe that this is a powerful image of baptism, and the waters of baptism offer no less wonder and joy.
The Feast of All Saints is one of the four days recommended in the Book of Common Prayer for the administration of Holy Baptism. There’s something important about this that we should not miss. In the Anglican Communion, and thus in the Episcopal Church, we recognize on this day the powerful spiritual bond between those who have entered into the nearer presence of the Lord and those who are still on our earthly pilgrimage. The Church’s sign of that bond is the water of baptism.
At a parish in which I once worked, we made clouds with the names of all the members of the parish who had died since the founding of the church. We hung the clouds in the narthex for parishioners to see as they entered the church on the Feast of All Saints. It was a powerful image representing the great cloud of witnesses who have come before us, saints known and unknown, to which we remain connected. The stories of the whole body of the faithful, whether beatified saints known to the whole church or those known only to us in our own communities, speak light and hope to our journeys of faith. We are buoyed, anchored even, by the bond we share with the great cloud of witnesses.
The video of the child in the rain and her joy is a great image of this bond. Rain, like hope and encouragement, faith and wonder, light and joy, washing over us, reminding us that we share in something so much bigger and deeper than ourselves. We are bound by water that tells the story of God’s redeeming work, not only in the world, but, in and through the very lives of the saints.
Look to clouds, let the rain wash over you, and proclaim the joy of the good news of Jesus.
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Who is your favorite saint? What hope and joy do they give to you?
What story of a saint provokes awe and wonder?
What is a challenge of being bound together with the saints in one household and family?
What are the experiences and relationships that give you joy in the Church?
[Collect for the Feast of All Saints used with permission from Church Publishing]