On All Saints Sunday we remember all those who have died or as we say on this day, “Gone on before us.” In our worship we will especially remember those who have passed since last All Saints Sunday. We also will have a place to remember all those in your life who have gone on before you: The parents and siblings and grandparents and cousins and friends. The high school classmate who died very much too early, the child of your sister-in-law’s friend, the soldier you had as a kid in class and the old friend who was ready for whatever they have gone on before us to do and be.
If you’re like a lot of folks this will also be a time when other relationships and parts of our lives that we grieve, that we are not always able to name, will rise to the surface like bubbles in a warming pot. We’ll also remember the pet that we had to put down, the job we lost, the relationship that changed, the dream we finally released.
During worship, after we recall those of our congregation who have gone before us, we will offer an opportunity to recognize these other things we grieve in our life. You will be invited to come forward and take a carnation from a basket and while holding it name your grief. And then in what is a sacramental an act you will be invited to place that carnation at the altar. When we place that carnation on the altar we remember those we can’t stop thinking about and we celebrate…. we become sacramentally aware…. of where they have gone before us to. A little later in the service, in what is a sacrament we are a bit more accustom to, we will celebrate Holy Communion, some say, with them.
Each year, as I sit in my front row seat to all this I am deeply moved. To be so close to our community’s grief is an immense privilege. It is a powerful moment. It is a moment worth sharing with those we know who have no such way to remember and to celebrate. And so this year, I want to invite you to also remember someone you know who has experienced a grief since the last first Sunday in November. If you are comfortable invite them to come to this service to participate. Or maybe give them a call and ask if you may do this for them. If you are not comfortable inviting or talking about such things, maybe you can just call them, have a supportive conversation and just keep it between God and you that you will also being caring that carnation for them.
A few things have not changed in this ever-changing world; one of them is that we will all experience the weight of grief; another is our need to share this burden. May the one who awaits all that goes on before us be with you and those you carry this All Saints Sunday.
Keep the Faith!