I wrote a blog post yesterday and it is already on the scrap pile. A misstep and wrong direction. I begin again.
Today I went to my occasional second job, playing the electric keyboard (which they call an organ) for worship at the church that my husband and I are pleased to call our home congregation. I play for them about once or twice a month and today it was a particular pleasure.
All Hallow’s Eve, October thirty-first, is followed immediately in the church year with All Saints’ Day, on November first. For Lutherans it gets complicated, because it was on All Hallow’s Eve, the Eve of All Saints’ Day, that Martin Luther chose to post his Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, so that they would be widely read by those coming to worship. October thirty-first, or the Sunday closest to it, is celebrated as Reformation Day in Lutheran Churches, and in those Lutheran Churches who do not celebrate All Saints’ Day on November first with a special service, All Saints’ Day is celebrated on the Sunday following.
The traditional liturgical color for Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus, is White. All Saints’ Day, by extension, is also white. The hymn of the day was that remarkable text, For All the Saints, Who from Their Labors Rest. Several in the choir commented to me after the service that perhaps I let loose a bit when rocking that hymn. I can’t help myself. It is a favorite from childhood and given the fact that my last blog post was about the death of my father and the writing of his obituary, this hymn is apropos. In the bulletins from the funeral services of each of my parents, are words from that hymn:
For all the saints who from their labors rest
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Of all the greeting cards that can be purchased, I think I have trouble most with the vapid sympathy cards. I just can’t deal with them. Of course you grieve when someone you love dies. It isn’t unheard of that grief knocks you to your knees. But for believing Christians, it doesn’t end there, for believing Christians, grief is different. On the third day after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ everything changed. For us death no longer has the last word. For we trust the witnesses of the risen Jesus.
Today, I asked the choir if they would be willing to sing three verses (1, 6, and 8) of my favorite hymn. They agreed. It is listed in the hymnal as a communion hymn, but it works as well for All Saints’ and Easter, At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing.
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious king
Who has washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierc-ed side. Alleluia!
Now no more can death appall
Now no more the grave entrall;
You have opened paradise,
And your saints in you shall rise. Alleluia!
Father, who the crown shall give,
Savior, by whose death we live,
Spirit, guide through all our days:
Three in One, your name we praise. Alleluia!
The liturgical color for All Saints’ is white. Cast off your mourning. Crying endures for a night, but joy cometh in the morning! The story isn’t over. The conversations we hadn’t finished have a future. Have no fear. Rejoice and be glad. He is not here. He is Risen. Alleluia!