A member has been added to your Body

On the Sunday of All Saints yesterday, a new saint was added to the number of saints who constitute Christ’s church.  My new grandson, Thomas Gene Edward Hensley, was baptized.

“When[the church]  baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member.”  John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII

My father’s name was read among the dead, and now his name-sake enters the church, so it was all very meaningful to me.  In honor of All Saints, now that I am thinking about John Donne, after the jump I’ll quote the context of the above passage from his Devotions, a series of meditations as he was undergoing a serious illness, which as far as he knew may well be fatal.  The “for whom the bell tolls” refers to the custom of ringing the church bells to call people to prayer for someone who was dying, and he was wondering if the bells were ringing for him. 

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Naming the blessed dead

All Saints’ Day is the Christian Memorial Day, a time to remember loved ones who have died and who now are with all of the other saints, enjoying everlasting life with Christ.  The custom on All Saints’ Day in church is simply to list those who died in the previous year, reading each name as a bell tolls.  I invite you to use this space to honor any of those you love who have joined the saints.

I’ll go first:  GENE EDWARD VEITH, my father, who died in May.

The origins & history of Halloween

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson has a running project of refuting the notion that Christian holidays derived from pagan festivals.  You have got to read what he says about the history of Halloween. [Read more...]

“For All the Saints”

Happy All Saints’ Day!  All Christians are saints–sinners, but also saints–and this is a day to celebrate the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints,  as it extends through time and space, in this moment and in eternity.  This includes your loved ones who died in the Christian faith and who now exult in Heaven.

Sometimes I find that when I sing a hymn, I rush past all of the poetry.  So let’s contemplate the lyrics from this classic hymn by William W. How (1823-1897):

1. For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

3. Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

4. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

5. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

6. But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

7. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Alleluia! Alleluia!

8. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

via “For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest”.

How to honor the saints

Thanks to Cincinnatus for bringing into focus for me a great paradox:  On the day after we mark the breaking of the church due to the always necessary struggle against how the church tends to fall into corruption and the obscuring of Christ’s Gospel (Reformation Day), we celebrate the unity of the church, how all who have faith in Christ constitute the everlasting “communion of the saints” (All Saints’ Day).

And now on that holiday, we can turn to the Lutheran Confessions to see how saints ought to be honored:

Our Confession approves honoring the saints in three ways. The first is thanksgiving. We should thank God because He has shown examples of mercy, because He wishes to save people, and because He has given teachers and other gifts to the Church. These gifts, since they are the greatest, should be amplified. The saints themselves, who have faithfully used these gifts, should be praised just as Christ praises faithful businessmen (Matthew 25:21, 23). The second service is the strengthening of our faith.When we see Peter’s denial forgiven, we also are encouraged to believe all the more that grace truly superabounds over sin (Romans 5:20). The third honor is the imitation, first of faith, then of the other virtues. Everyone should imitate the saints according to his calling. The adversaries do not require these true honors. They argue only about invocation, which, even if it were not dangerous, still is not necessary.

Source: Apology of the Augsburg Confession Article XXI Paragraphs 4-7. Concordia CPH: 2006, p. 202.

HT:  Paul McCain @ Thoughts for All Saints Day: We Feebly Struggle, They in Glory Shine | CyberBrethren-A Lutheran Blog.

Saints that you have known

Have you ever met a saint?  I’m not just asking if you have met someone sure to be canonized by the Church of Rome, such as Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II.  You most assuredly have met a saint, since all Christians, though simultaneously sinners, have that status in Christ.  But today being All Saints’ Day, let’s honor saints who have had an impact on your life and on your faith.  Who are some?  You don’t have to mention names, since saints are easily embarrassed, but tell about Christians you know or have known who made an impression on you because of their faith, love, and holiness, or their transparency to Christ, or however you want to describe it.


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