For All the Saints
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.
[William W. How, “For All the Saints.”]
When you light a candle, or ring the bell in honor of a dear child of God no longer with us, how do you feel? Does your heart feel brave? Do your arms feel strong? Or do you feel overcome with sorrow and exhausted from fighting it?
All Saints Day is simultaneously a time of great joy and great sorrow as we remember those who have died in the past year and look in hope to our place in the “communion of saints.” It is a day that highlights the difficult complexities of grieving as a Christian. How do we simultaneously celebrate magnificent salvation to come and honor the deep sorrow that is now?
We know that Christ has triumphed over death, but when our hearts are so broken from the long warfare that is life in a weary world it can be difficult to hear that distant triumph song.
Keep listening. Let yourself and your community acknowledge the harsh realities of loss and groan together. But be sure not to let the disheartened groaning of grief drown out the sweet song to be heard on the distant breeze, celebrating Christ’s victory for us. For even in great sorrow, through him our hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.