This past Sunday was All Saints’ Day, and, at our church, it was one of the most beautiful and meaningful services of the year. We showed pictures of people who had died during the preceding year, and the congregation was invited during the sacrament of Holy Communion to name aloud those in their lives who had died. After people came forward and received the Eucharist, they had the opportunity to light candles in memory of the saints who had shaped their lives and helped to make the world a better place.
All Saints’ Sunday is a sacred invitation from the church to remember those whose lives contributed to our own. It is a wonderful time of memorial. Our church is young, and, although there were a number of members of our extended family whom we remembered, there were only two members of our congregation who died in the past year.
One was an older woman who had outlived most of her peers. Only one of her friends is still active in the church, but she was there to remember her. Ironically, though she is in her mid-90s, she is our most faithful member in terms of attendance. Sunday after Sunday, she is there to bear witness to how important this place is to her and how much she wants to leave it to the next generation.
The other person who died during the past year was a young man. He was fun and funny and beloved. His funeral was well attended, but, when his photo came up on the screen, I looked around the room and realized that there was no one present who had known him. It made me sad. There are members of the church who loved him, but they weren’t there to bear witness that he is one of our saints. No one lit a candle for him. He deserved to have someone other than me call his name and remember his face.
In the end, we all are saints, but sometimes it doesn’t mean much unless we show up. Some of the best gifts I have been given were people simply showing up for me when I needed them. In those moments, they were my saints.
Rev. Michael Piazza