“The days are long, but the years are short.”

By Rev. Kerry Smith

“The days are long, but the years are short.” -- Gretchen Rubin

I often think of these words, especially as the end of a year approaches. It seems like when October comes, we are on fast forward and it doesn’t stop until January 1. One of my favorite things about all of the holiday celebrations is the preparation. We spend so much time preparing for Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas, and before we can blink the candy is all eaten, the dishes are all dirtied, and the presents are all unwrapped.
But, before we rocket towards Christmas, we need to stop and take a breath. This Sunday we will have an opportunity to take a breath as we celebrate All Saints Sunday.

We have a three day arc in the Christian calendar that starts with Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve, October 31), All Saints’ Day (November 1), and ends with All Souls’ Day (November 2). This three day arc is called Hallowtide and is a time dedicated to remembering the dead, including the saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the departed. Pope Gregory III (734-741 A.D.) started the tradition of celebrating All Saints Day on November 1. Interestingly, another Pope Gregory (but the first, not the third) from 590-604 A.D. introduced the custom of placing ashes on the forehead in the shape of a cross on Ash Wednesday.  The Popes named Gregory were influential! These three days are an opportunity for us to grieve what we have lost and to think about that thin place between the living and the dead. It’s a reminder for us that in the midst of suffering we are never alone.

In the United Methodist Church we celebrate All Saints Sunday the first Sunday in November. This is a sacred time when we gather in worship to honor those in our congregation who have died in the last year. At White Rock UMC we will light candles, ring bells of remembrance, and call the names of those who have died in the previous year as a way of honoring the impact their lives had on us.

In the Hebrew Scriptures there are two words that we translate as saint: khawseed and kawdoshe. Khawseed speaks to someone who is godly, holy, and merciful. The godly person reflects God’s character in his or her actions and life. Kawdoshe means “sacred” or “set apart.” The Bible tells us that saints are people set apart by God who live their lives as a witness to the glory of God.

Worship this Sunday is an opportunity for us to remember those who lived faithfully and shared their faith with us. May their witness inspire us as 1 Peter 1:15-16 tells us, “you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy.”

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