Dear Friends and Members,
Every year at the Oscars the world takes a moment to remember those entertainers in the film industry who have died in the last year. It is always a somber moment. It is a critical moment from my perspective. It is a moment when the millions of people watching are reminded of their own mortality.
Today we in the Christian Church celebrate All Saints' Day. It is a day to mark and remember those is our own congregation who have died in the faith. They have run their race with endurance. This year in our community of believers we celebrate the confirmed faith of Phylis Hammons, Jim Bernhardt and Ron Strassburg. This weekend we will pause to remember them. Not in the way Hollywood does, but in a way that is authentic to the faith they died in. We will remember them in Hope. The hope that comes in the resurrection of all flesh. We will see the dearly departed again on the last day.
For all the Saints is a collection of readings and devotions through the church year where we hear from different saints who have come before us. Here is a bit from Athanasius (295-375) and his writing, “On the Incarnation”:
"A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine advent of the Saviour even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they died they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection. But that devil who of old wickedly exulted in death, now that the pains of death are loosed, he alone it is who remains truly dead. There is proof of this too for men who, before they believe in Christ, think death horrible and are afraid of it, once they are converted despise it so completely that they go eagerly to meet it, and themselves become witnesses of the Saviour’s resurrection from it. Even children hasten thus to die, and not men only, but women train themselves by bodily discipline to meet it. So weak has death become that even women, who used to be taken in by it, mock at it now as a dead thing robbed of all its strength. Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and food as he now is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Saviour on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, “O Death, where is thy victory; O Grave, where is thy sting?”
A blessed All Saints' Day to you dear ones, who join with me in mocking death.
In His Love and Service,