All Faithful Departed
Through Jesus Christ our Lord; who rose victorious from the dead, and comforts us with the blessed hope of everlasting life. For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens. – Proper Preface for the Commemoration of the Dead
O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children – Collect for All Faithful Departed
Two days ago was Halloween, the day when Christians, armed with the knowledge that Christ defeated death by his passion and rose victorious through his resurrection, would dress up in costumes to mock death.
Yesterday was All Saints' Day, the day set aside to celebrate the great Saints of the Church. This was the day the Church remembered a doctor (Saint Luke), a queen (Mary, Queen of Scotland), a shepherdess (Joan of Arc), a soldier (Martin of Tours), a priest (John Donne), and those slain by fierce, wild beasts (Ignatius, Perpetua, and others). There are certainly other Saints of the Church, but when we sing a song of the Saints of God, these are those of whom that song is remembering.
Eventually people began to remember and commemorate all those Christians who weren't famous, or who didn't perform heroic acts in the name of the Church, and who are unknown to all but God in the wider fellowship of the Church. These are people like Polly, Joan, Bob, Bill, David, Sue and so many others that are known to only a few, but are also known and beloved by God. These are people who, like Matthias, are part of the company of the faithful but are never heard from or were written about. These are people who have simply and faithfully lived the life of a disciple, loving neighbors, caring for those in need, and proclaiming the good news of the Gospel in thought, word, and deed.
Today is the day we remember and commemorate All Faithful Departed, whether well-known or unknown. Today is the day when the words of Revelation 5:11 comes to life. Today is the day when, if we listen carefully, can hear angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven sing, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.”
Today is when we remember all those who have gone before for whom life is changed, not ended.
On this day, may you be comforted in the knowledge of God's loving embrace.