Today we gather with Christians all around the world that will light candles and remember loved ones who have died over the last year. We do this because November 1st has for at least 12 centuries been All Saints Day. This is the day Christians have remembered all those who firstly died as martyrs, and then all those great people of faith (saints) who the rest of us look up to and are inspired by. Today we are invited to recall those saints and how they inspire us in our lives today. Who is your favourite saint?
From the twelfth or thirteenth centuries All Souls Day was held on November 2 to remember all people of faith. So today we remember all those who have gone before us, who have paved the way for us, and especially those we have loved and who loved us. We honour their memory, and we give thanks for the ways they have blessed us over our lifetimes. As we do this we also take another step in letting them go, trusting that they now rest in God, as they have always.
In light of that we hear the startling picture presented in the book of Revelation. What is startling about it is that the writer of Revelation talks about God coming here, living among us mortals. We often think of life after death as happening elsewhere. Rather than the faithful being taken off somewhere else, today’s reading offers a picture of a new heaven and a new earth with the new Jerusalem replacing the world as we know it. This world is renewed not abandoned. And this new world is built on God’s justice, mercy, goodness and peace. We are offered this reading today as a reminder that through the lives of the saints we are offered glimpses of this new heaven and earth. How do our loved ones help us glimpse the new Jerusalem? How are we being invited to allow others to also glimpse life as God intends it in the way we live our lives?