The triduum of Allhallowtide is one of our family’s favorite celebrations. What is not to love? We have candy, pumpkins, people dressing up and being silly, We are inspired by favorite Saints of old, and remember those we love and see no longer.
Today, All Souls Day, our family takes time give thanks for and share stories about family members and friends who have helped us along our Christian journey. It is especially important to me that we share the memories of these people with our children, some of them our children never had a chance to meet in this life.
We’ll spend a significant portion of the day talking about a couple specific people. First, my Oma. I was blessed with the most incredible grandmother, and I always think about her during this time of year. Halloween was always a special time for us growing up because it meant a lively party at Oma and Papa’s house. Until her death 13 years ago, Oma was my biggest cheerleader, most fervent supporter, and faithful encourager. Her love for our Papa inspires me in my own marriage. The ways in which she cared for her children and grandchildren has a lasting impact on all of our lives. Oma would have been absolutely crazy about our kids, and I want them to know she is loving them from heaven and looks forward to being with them in glory.
On All Souls I also think of my friend the Rev. Bob Greene. After finishing seminary in 1949, Bob worked as a missionary in Alaska and other locations before serving as a priest in Texas and Arizona. Bob graciously passed down some of his vestments to me during one of our visits prior to his death. Each time I place one of his stoles around my neck, I remember our many conversations about God, ministry, and the Church. I remember his patience as he mentored me while I discerned my call to ordained ministry. We once traveled together to visit the village in Alaska where he was a missionary, and today I hope that sharing these stories with my family will help them to better understand whom I am.
As we sit on the couch together and look through old family albums, we say prayers of thanksgiving for the life, love, ministry, and example of these saints.
The readings appointed for today are especially comforting as we remember those who have died. From the third chapter of the book of Wisdom we hear,
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace.
I love the idea of my loved ones being in the hands of God (singing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”), and the fact that they are at peace.
1 Thessalonians chapter four offers us these encouraging words,
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died… For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first… and so we will be with the Lord forever.
While we do experience grief when we lose through death those whom we love, we may also take great comfort and encouragement that in Christ the dead rise to be united with Christ in the resurrection. 1 Thessalonians reminds us that can celebrate that we will all be with our Lord forever.
How will your family celebrate All Souls Day?
If you don’t already have a practice of your own, join our family in looking through old family photo albums or watching old family movies. Then share how these saints helped and encouraged you in your Christian journey.