On Sunday November 4, Christians worldwide will gather to celebrate All Saints Day. All Saints is a time to remember those who have passed from this life to the next. There is something profound about worshiping corporately to commemorate those who have died. As the names are read and the bell sounds, some may find themselves weeping anew as they remember times gone by.
The focus of my remembrance this is year is Malachi; he passed away tragically several years ago as a result of injuries he sustained in a car accident. The grief I experienced upon hearing of his passing rendered me speechless. I simply couldn’t comprehend what I heard. Was it possible the little angelic boy who ran down the hall to leap into my arms was gone? Surely it was a mistake! It couldn’t be true and yet it was; Malachi was gone. I spent the entire day alternating between bouts of weeping and praying for his family.
Words seem woefully inadequate when family members or friends pass away. Whatever we say, we choose our words carefully seeking to find the "right" words. Perhaps the most powerful words are those spoken by the heart itself - manifested by tears; tears give voice to what is verbally inexpressible. The Bible records that Jesus Himself wept when He learned that Lazarus had died, John 11:33-35.* Yes, Jesus knew that He could and would resurrect Lazarus, but He also understood the depth of sorrow Lazarus’ family and friends were experiencing. The ability to weep is a gift from God; it allows us to reflect upon our personal loss and enter into another’s sorrow –binding us together.
On All Saints candles will be lit, bells will sound, the names of those who have departed this life will be read, and tears will flow. While we may understand what death is in our mind, it is the heart that knows the true impact of our loss. All Saints is a time stop and consider the transience of life, and to a greater extent, the transience death. Jesus’ resurrection proves that death is not the end. Those who live and die in faith have Jesus’ assurance one day the saints of God will gather to never again die.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am….” John 14: 1-3**
Malachi may you rest in peace in the arms of the angels until we meet again.
Amen and amen.