ALL SAINTS, VIGILS, AND THE LIKE

A blog post about remembering who we’ve lost, honoring who we are, and lighting all the candles.
By: Rebecca Garrett Pace,
Minister of Worship & The Arts, and a lover of candles.


I love candles. Scented and unscented. Colorful and plain. Short, tall, fat, skinny, drippy, sooty, artisan-hand-poured and clearance-rack-at-Target. Give me the candles.
This Sunday, November 1, we’ll be offering two different but complementary opportunities (and there will be tons of candles, so, yay!). I wanted to take just a moment to talk about them because they might be a little unfamiliar to you. 
ALL SAINTS SUNDAY - Traditionally the first Sunday of November (which, this year, happens to be on actual All Saints Day, or All Souls Day, or All Hallows Day, which is right after All Hallows Eve, which is what we call Halloween… anyway. Got lost a bit down that rabbit trail… words are fun). We celebrate All Saints Sunday to remember with love those who have passed away in the last year, since last All Saints Day. This is a time when we at White Rock UMC remember and honor not just our own church members who have passed on, but families and friends of our neighborhood and broader community. Each year on this day, each name is spoken in worship, and we pause. We pause to hear a handbell tolled, to see a candle lit, to study the photo of the person’s face, to make note of their birth and death dates, to pray for their families. This ritual reminds us that God’s light still shines through that person, through their lives, through their lasting influence on our lives.
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL FOR PEACE - Have you ever attended a vigil? Do you know what a vigil is? It’s sort of a strange word, but basically a vigil is a time to stay awake when normally we’d be sleeping. This could be literally — many communities have times of vigil if someone is very sick or has just died, where people stay up all through the night praying and singing and keeping watch. This could also be figuratively — a vigil as a call to wake up from our apathy, our asleep-ness in the world, and to notice what God is calling us to do. This Sunday, we’re inviting you to the latter. From 6-8 p.m. on the front steps of our church, there will be candles and prayer available so we can hold vigil as a community. So we can light candles for and with each other. Perhaps you need to light a candle to honor someone you’ve lost this year (as an extension of our All Saints service that morning). Perhaps you need to light a candle for yourself, to acknowledge your struggle with depression or addiction or job loss or mental health struggles, and your choice to add light to the world even when you don’t feel like it. Perhaps you need to light a candle for your super political neighbor, who has signs in their yard that you TOTALLY disagree with, and you get mad even THINKING about it, and HOW could they possibly vote that way? Because two days before the election seems like a good time to hold vigil, to wake up, to keep watch, to ask God how God wants us to move in our world. Perhaps you need to light a candle because it seems like there’s nothing better to do on a dark, time-change Sunday. That’s okay, too. Sometime we hear God best when there’s frankly just nothing better to listen to.
I hope you join us for both of these candle-filled rituals this Sunday, November 1. Because your light matters, and our community’s light matters. Because the saints who have passed away matter. Because our lives are knit together even when we feel most divided and separate. And because candles are awesome.

No Comments