“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3, NRSV)
It is fitting to note that whenever I use the phrase, “one of my favorites,” followed by various things, people, scripture verses, books of the Bible, authors, food, stories, etc., it is usually a favorite among many. As All Saints Day approaches, I can say we’ve lost some of my favorite saints this year. The scripture above is one of my favorite scriptures, too. And All Saints is one of my favorite Christian observances, albeit a paradoxically sad and celebratory experience.
As far as losing some of my favorite saints this year, it’s true every year. But it’s especially true in this unique environment of a pandemic. We’ve lost members of our congregation during a period when we’ve been limited in our ability to “be there” for folks in the ways we would typically be there. Even for those who grieve, we’ve not been able to extend a hand and an embrace, offering assurance that everything will be okay.
1 John’s passage in the 3rd chapter begins with some of the richest, deepest, and simplest theology regarding our status and future with God. It assures us that we are all children of God and even though mysteries about our future remain, what little we know now is only a glimpse of the glorious future that is to come. In “seeing God as he is,” as the saints do upon their arrival in heaven, we will recognize the latent and obscure family resemblance residing in us. This revelation will instantaneously transform us into the fullest potential of our creation in the image of God, and life will start again with all the missing pieces of the puzzle finally in place.
Everything will make sense.
All Saints Day is one of my favorite Christian observances because we affirm the status of all God’s beloved children as the “saints of God.” We celebrate those whose lives have intersected with our own in meaningful ways before their death. We project faith in our current circumstances of grief and loss. And we rely on our hope for the future when we will share again with those we love.
I hope you’ll join us onsite or online for worship this Sunday as we honor the lives and legacies of our beloved saints who have died since last All Saints Day.