On the Christian calendar, All Saints’ Day is celebrated every November 1. In the Reformed theological tradition, from which Presbyterians come, there is not a tradition of saints being particularly virtuous or unusually faithful people. Rather, we follow the tradition of the early church which viewed every follower of Jesus Christ as a “saint,” meaning simply that through their Baptism they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit and have done their best to live in the Spirit and share Christ’s love throughout their lives.
And so here at First Pres, we celebrate All Saints’ Day by remembering and giving thanks for all of those who are connected to this congregation in one way or another who have died in the previous year and been received by God as one of Christ’s saints.
Typically, we do this at First Pres on the first Sunday of November, but this year it just happens to be November 1 itself. And that seems fitting, given how much more death has struck our community, our nation, and our world this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many people have noted, we have spent much of 2020 in a state of communal grief: grief over the loss of so many plans and dreams and hopes, the loss of so much that was familiar and expected, but above all the staggering loss of loved ones, friends, and neighbors to the virus.