All Saints' Day is a day of remembrance. On this day it is good to remember who we are. We are God’s children, given new birth through the Holy Spirit and given new life in community with all others who share faith in Christ.
In the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, South Africa, there is a life-size photograph of a youth carrying the lifeless body of Hector Pieterson. Hector was the first child killed in the violent response to the peaceful demonstration of school children in Soweto. In this photograph, Hector's sister is running alongside the bearer of her brother's body. Beside the photograph is the response of the family of the youth who risked his life to carry Hector away. It says, "Our brother is not a hero. This is what we do."
Saints are not heroes. To be a hero is to be a champion, standing taller and stronger than those around. To be a saint is to be one of God's children, doing what God's children do, standing no taller or stronger than others but living faithfully together, doing what God's children do.
All Saints' day is a day to reflect on how grateful I am for the life I have shared with those who have gone before me - those who taught me about life, love, and faith. What a great gift it is to be a child of God! On this day, we proclaim not ourselves, nor one another, but the strong work of God in us for good. To God be the glory on this day as we celebrate the family of all of God's saints.
This particular All Saints' day is the first one that I have felt a deep loss. This year, my family lost our precious daddy, Jimmy Sprayberry. Our daddy lived well for the 90 years of his life. He lived a life of love, faith, and service. He was the kindest of southern gentlemen, the most doting of fathers, the ever-generous one to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He loved our mother fiercely and cared for her passionately. It was said at his funeral that he always sought to do the right thing. That is our legacy from him - to do the right thing - to live as children of God doing what children of God do.
I remember and honor my father on this All Saints' day and every day. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
A Prayer for All Saints' Day
Almighty God, your saints are one with you resting in the beauty of your presence. We remember them with love this day.
We pray that you will give us grace to live lives
that seek holiness,
that love fiercely,
and that serve graciously until we are gathered into the joys which you have prepared for your children. Be alive in us, Holy One, and hold us in unity with
all who rest in your peace. Amen.