Each year we celebrate Reformation Day on the last Sunday of October. Each year we observe All Saints Day on the first Sunday of November. You could say the two are connected for the reason that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church on All Hallows’ Eve (AKA, All Saints Eve), the day prior to All Saints Day, November 1.
However, All Saints Day often lives in the shadows of our Lutheran Reformation festivals – especially this year as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. There has been great build up to Reformation celebrations across the world, our synod, and even here at Trinity with hymn sings, special services, and Bible studies. Many will have worn wear red on Reformation Day, eaten Jell-O (liturgically-appropriate red, of course), and sung “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” But there will be no special Bible study, no one will purposely wear white, and we don’t look with the same fondness of singing, “For All the Saints,” as we do our Reformation ballad. Yes, it’s true, the following Sunday, November 5, our observance of All Saints Day will arrive with little fanfare. Yet, it is one of the principle feasts of the Church year.
So what is All Saints Day?
The feast of All Saints Day is one of unity. It is a celebration of the unity of the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant. In other words, we are celebrating the unity of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and those who live and will live under the struggles of daily crosses of this life. “Together, both constitute but one communion, one fellowship.” (Rev. William Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, Page, 200)
Some churches have reflected this union and fellowship of the Church with the design of their communion rail. “Shaped in a half-circle, the rail stops at the back of the chancel. Beyond the wall of the chancel laid the cemetery, where members of the congregation were buried.” (Rev. Charles Henrickson) A joyous reminder that death does not have the final word!
This Joy is also reflected in the Divine Service as the pastor says, “With angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name.” This is a joyful reminder of the reality of heaven on earth. As depicted in the book of Revelation, here we join at the Lord’s Table with saints who have gone before, among the great multitude that no one can number, worshipping the Lamb who sits upon the throne. (Rev 7:9-17)
As we gather for this year’s All Saints Day on Sunday, November 5, let us gather with great joy! For on this day we give thanks for the lives of those who now rest from the labors of earthly life. On this day, we again join our voices as we do every Lord’s Day with those who abide in heaven. On this day, joy fills our hearts as we fix our eyes on the Lamb, our Savior, Jesus Christ who sits upon the throne of heaven! A blessed All Saints Day to you!
On this All Saints’ Day, we remember those from our household of faith who have departed this life in the faith and have now joined the Church Triumphant:
Joseph Patrick Grecco July 6, 1961 ~ October 25, 2016
Richard Dale Quam October 8, 1938 ~ December 3, 2016
Gladys Florence Kenyon September 27, 1916 ~ December 9, 2016
Charlotte Mary-Etta Knutson September 19, 1938 ~ February 27, 2017
Dorothy Arlene Nelson April 16, 1927 ~ April 24, 2017
Marvin Fred Niesche February 23, 1922 ~ June 5, 2017
Ronald Marvin Fitzner August 23, 1945 ~ September 28, 2017
Gladys Susan Splittstoesser March 21, 1915 ~ September 29, 2017
Romonous Otto Ferber October 8, 1928 ~ September 30, 2017
Arlan Gustav Scramstad November 24, 1924 ~ October 20, 2017
“Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes— who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” Revelation 7:13-15