O God of hosts, our faith renew, and grant us, in your grace,

To join the songs sung by the saints in every time and place.

Come, Let us Join with faithful souls, New century hymnal 383, verse 4

I’m writing this devotion from an empty sanctuary, having just arranged the candles that will be lit in remembrance of loved ones this coming Sunday for All Saints Day. Each candle is a life. Each life was not perfect or without sin, but each life was precious and revealed the love of God to both family and neighbor.  On all Saint’s Day we remember the lessons they taught us. We remember the best of who they were and in so doing, feel their mysterious yet very real Spirit. They have joined the cloud of witnesses that live with God. Yes, you read that right, they are living with God. Through our stories and memories they live with us too.

One of my favorite movies to watch this year is the Disney movie Cocoa. If you haven’t watched, I highly recommend it! It centers around the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated largely in Mexico.  It is believed that from October 31-November 2, loved ones who have died come back to visit their living relatives. Families go to the cemetery, cook their loved ones favorite food, and tell stories, and through such rich memories the presence of the loved one is actually there with them. It sounds a little like communion huh? In the movie Cocoa, while the families are telling stories and eating food, the audience can see grandparents and great-grandparents standing right beside those in the cemetery, and they are commenting on how big the kids are getting or listening with joy at the stories they tell. Without fail, I always tear up as I watch it.

As I sit in this empty sanctuary, I read the lines from the hymn above, “to join the songs sung by the saints in every time and place,” reflecting that this year this may mean more to us than ever before.  Not just on All Saint’s Day but Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, when we miss the company of others the most. I pray that in these days you are reaching out to friends and family. I pray that you connect with loved ones past, and I pray you spend time with your God for whom is always right by your side, intently listening to your deepest joys and worries.

Blessings for the journey,

Pastor Keith