What often gets lost in the celebration of Halloween is that its origins stem from the day that follows it. Halloween stands for “All Hallow’s Eve,” as in the evening before All Saints Day on Nov. 1.

Within our liturgical churches (Lutheran, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox) we continue to celebrate Nov. 1 – or the Sunday closest to it – as All Saints Day. On All Saints, we recognize those that have died over the past year, the saints who have been a part of our journey on this earth who have now joined the “cloud of witnesses,” gathered together in the presence of God.

This year I especially feel the impact of All Saints Day as we have lost 13 members of our congregation. Some were founding members of our church. Some we had not seen at church for some time. Some had been homebound for the past number of years, with their bodies and minds slowly deteriorating. Others were taken suddenly from us. All of them were a part of this portion of the Kingdom of God. All of them contributed to who we are in Christ.

As I presided over most of their services (or will preside with several postponed due to COVID concerns), I think of how we celebrate their lives, how we talk about how they showed us in their own unique ways of how to live this life and continue on this journey of faith. And it reminds me of two things.

First, when we think of All Saints Day, we are reminded that we all are saints. We are all called by God with our God-given gifts and talents to form and live out this Kingdom of God. Without each one of us, the Kingdom of God is not complete. So, as we celebrate the lives who have gone before us on this All Saints Day, we ask ourselves how we are called to live out this life of faith, how we are called to live in community, caring for one another, being there for one another.

Second, when we think of All Saints Day, we are also reminded that we do not have to wait until someone dies to let them know what they mean to us and to this life of faith. Three years ago I started a practice during Lent of writing a thank-you note to those people who have touched my life in both small and big ways. Some of those people were from fifty years ago, like my third-grade teacher. Some I have only known for this past year or two, like some community leaders here in Rockdale County. I did it for myself, but from the responses I received – both from that third-grade teacher and from those community leaders – I know that the short note touched their lives as their lives had touched mine.

So, whether you celebrate All Saints Day at your church or not, take a moment this Sunday to think of and thank God for the people who have touched your life, whose faith helped shape you into the person you are now. If they are no longer living, lift up a prayer of praise to God for them. Light a candle in their honor. Give a gift that would have meant something to them.

And if they are still alive, write them a note. Send them a card. Give them a call. Shoot them an email. Tell them how they touched your life. Let them know that your life is better because they have been in it.

Then look at the mirror and remind yourself that you too are a saint. You are a child of God and loved by God. Use whatever God has given you to let people know that they too are loved by God. Share the love. Live the love. Be the love.

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The Rev. David Armstrong-Reiner is pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Ga. Highway 20 in Conyers. Contact him at pastor.david@conyerselc.org.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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