What does it mean to give thanks for all the saints?
Today is All Saints Sunday, the day when followers of Jesus affirm their faith in God’s eternal love. Surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses who have run the race of faith, All Saints Sunday is the day when we give thanks that we do not run the race of faith alone.
Today, we remember the persons who have strengthened our faith through their faith as they entered the Church Triumphant. This is the day when we agree with what Paul wrote in the eighth chapter of Romans: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The day when we affirm what Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of II Corinthians: “we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
The day when we affirm the words of the 121st Psalm:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The Lord will not let your foot be moved; the Lord who keeps you will not slumber. The Lord who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; the Lord will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore
The day we join in Paul’s prayer for all the saints from the third chapter of Ephesians so that we may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fulness of God.
The day we pray that our lives will glorify God and Christ Jesus to all generations.
John Todd was born in 1800 in Rutland, Vermont. Shortly after John’s birth, the Todd family moved to the village of Killingsworth. By the time, John was six years of age, his parents died. John and the other children in his family were parceled out among the relatives. A kindhearted aunt, who lived in North Killingsworth agreed to take John into her home. John lived with his aunt for 15 years until he went away to study for ministry. When John was in the middle years of life, his aunt became desperately ill and realized that death could not be far off. In great distress she wrote her nephew a letter that reflected her uncertainty about what was ahead of her. What would death be like? Would it mean the end of everything or would there be, beyond death, a chance to continue living, growing, loving?
In response, John wrote the following letter:
“It is now thirty-five years since I, a little boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day when I made the long journey of ten miles to your house in North Killingsworth. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your (servant) Caesar, to fetch me. I well remember my tears and my anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey and as it grew dark, I became lonely and afraid.
“’Do you think she’ll go to bed before I get there,” I asked Caesar anxiously. ‘Oh, no.’ he said reassuringly. ‘She’ll sure stay up for you. When we get out of these here woods, you’ll see her candle shining in the window.’ Presently we did ride out in the clearing and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me and that you lifted me – a tired and bewildered little boy – down from the horse. You had a big fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting for me on the stove. After supper, you took me to my new room, you heard me say my prayers and then you sat beside me until I fell asleep.
“You probably realize why I am recalling all this to your memory. Someday soon, God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don’t fear the summons – the strange journey – or the dark messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road, you will find love and a welcome waiting, and you will be safe in God’s care. I shall watch you and pray for you until you are out of sight, and then wait for the day when I shall make the journey myself and find you waiting at the end of the road to greet me.”
Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
To All Generations
by Pastor Marc Brown
November 6, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Ephesians 3:14-21
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for November 6, 2022
Scripture Lesson Ephesians 3:14-21
The Good News “To All Generations”
Music “How Firm a Foundation” #529 UMH Hymnal
Closing Music “In Remembrance” by Anna Priscilla Rischer