All Saints Sunday was always something of an enigma to me growing up. As a kid, it seemed just as gruesome as Halloween. I mean a day in church where we talk about DEAD people? Yikes! That changed as I became an adult and understood that it was more about recognizing those from our past who are important to us and have revealed something of God in our lives. But the importance of All Saints Day radically changed for me November of 2005. You see, nine months earlier we had buried our beautiful boy, Benjamin. In those nine months we had taken down his crib, removed his clothes from the closet and taken his name off of our insurance. Worse yet, many people stopped saying his name. His name almost felt taboo. But then in late October, one of our pastors talked to me at work (I was the preschool director at our church) about the fact that on the first Sunday in November, Benjamin’s name would be read out loud in worship and a candle lit for him. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I longed to hear his name said out loud and to see his name in print. It validated for me that he hadn’t been a 16 month figment of my imagination and that my love was still real, my grief was still real and the impact he had on me was and is still real. Ben still mattered.
Ben mattered not just because of his life that was now in the past but because of how he was shaping my present and would impact my future and so the future of people around me. Ben shaped me into the mother, wife, pastor, friend and child of God that I am and will be. Who I am hopefully matters for people around me and will ripple into their lives and the lives of others. The hallmark of Ben’s short life, even if no one ever remembers his name, is that the love of God shown through him, to me, to others and will continue to do so into the future.
As I write this blog post today, I am sitting in a restaurant with a bunch of strangers at Denver International Airport munching on shrimp ceviche, sipping a glass of Malbec (I highly recommend both) and preparing to fly to Dallas for the funeral of my grandmother on Tuesday. My grandma was someone of deep faith, love and forgiveness. She was not perfect: but being a saint of God is not about our actions but God’s action of deep love through the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ actions reveal that God is present in all the real crap of human existence and promises to stand in that gap of hopelessness to offer us abiding hope. God calls us all saints in the in love of Jesus-people set apart to belong to God. But what is radical and amazing about being a saint of God is what God can do through us. For instance the love of God in one woman born 1926, lives on in me, my sister, my cousins, her great grandchildren and the numerous people she touched in her life. As I wrote yesterday, we were created for community, this includes the community that came before us and the community that comes after us. I know that kind on non-linear thinking can make your head hurt (it does mine) but there is also something quieting about knowing that even time cannot limit community. Death cannot limit community. Our own human boundaries cannot limit God’s community of saints, past, present and future.
I think our one greatest reflection of God’s love is our willingness to admit who matters to us, to speak their names, to let them know if we still can and to realize that who should matter is everyone around us whether we actually know them personally or not. All people are God’s saints-God’s people-and so I ask you, who will you let know today or this week that they matter-to you and to God?