Since Monday, I have been thinking about a tradition or “holiday” that I love in the church. A tradition that will be celebrated in churches throughout the world, including United Methodist Churches, this coming Sunday. The first Sunday of November is known as “All Saints Day.”
All Saints Day is a day when we as a church recognize the saints who have come before us. Often, we read the names of loved ones who have passed away in the previous year. I have taken part in All Saints Day practices from lighting candles to writing names on a strip of cloth that was later weaved together and used as an alter cloth.
It is a day to lift up and remember those who have come before us and led the way for us as Christians, as a body of believers, who claim to be, in the words of the Apostles Creed, a part of the “communion of saints.” “Communion of Saints,” of course, referring simply to a community made up of past, present and future disciples of Christ.
So tomorrow is All Saints Day, and I’m preaching. All week I have been battling with what to preach about. The Methodist Church here does not celebrate All Saints Day. Sure, I recognize that this does not mean the congregation would not appreciate a once-off celebration of the saints among us here. The problem is deeper than that, though: the problem is that I am aware I’m being called to preach on something else.
So the battle continues. I have two sermons: the one I want to preach, and the one that came from the lectionary text.
I have been cognitively aware of the difference in these two, affirmed now by the fact that the one that’s drawn from the text is finally coming to be, while the one I initially wanted to preach has come to a standstill and feels a bit un-inspired.
So there you have it: I feel a bit as if this week I have been wresting with these texts as Jacob wrestled with God, and am grateful that in the end, I am not the one who has won. I am sure this is not the first time such a match has taken place, and I know it will not be the last. I just pray that the next time such a match takes place, the winner is as clear as it has been today.