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All Souls Day


Today, November 2nd, is a special day in some Christian traditions worldwide. Today is referred to as All Souls Day. This is a holiday remembering all of those who have impacted us in our lives and have now passed on from this earth. Yesterday was All Saints Day which is a day where all of the Christian saints are honored. These saints can be the major ones such as the apostles or they can simply be people who were saints in our own lives. While our tradition does not officially celebrate this holiday, I still find it important to do something on this day: honor the people who meant so much to us but have passed on from this life.

All Souls Day gained a lot of popularity in 2017 when Disney/Pixar released the hit film "Coco" which had a major focus on All Souls Day, or as hispanics refer to it, Dia de los Muertos (the day of the dead). In the movie, much of the story centered on a young boy who accidentally found himself stuck on the wrong side of this holiday and trying to find his way back. What is sacred to his family and to so many other families is the connection to the family members who have died. This connection is something that is sacred to all of us whether we realize it or not. We have been shaped and formed in deep ways by our families and friends including and maybe even especially by those who have gone on from this life.

On this day, I think about the people who have had a special impact on me and my spiritual formation who have gone on from this life. I think about the family members who did like my Aunt Rita or my cousin Bobby. Neither of these people were ministers at a church (my aunt Rita was married to one though) but they both still had an impact on me in some way. They both had a very real gift in befriending just about anyone whom they came in contact with, while I believe I can do this to some degree, I do hope to one day be able to do it as well as they both did throughout their lives. On this day I also think about the numerous friends who have gone on from this life but not before impacting me. I think about Edith Randle, Angela Sanderson, Beckett Mahoney, Johnna Dorries and Loa Glenn to name a few. These people all mean different things to me on different levels, but I am grateful for them nonetheless.

This day can be a difficult one for many especially for those who have experienced a deep loss in their lives over the last year. That's part of why I believe that we recognize this as All Souls Day. Some of us may even have loved ones who were not believers in Jesus Christ and so this day could bring anxiety for those kinds of reasons. What we do know though is that God is love and to love is to know God (1 John 4). If a love exists, then a piece of God must exist also. At the end of all things, we read that only faith, hope, and love remain and the greatest of those is love (1 Corinthians 13). This is why this day is so sacred for so many. We remember so many things but at the heart of them with those who have already died is the loved that was had and shared. To be loved is to be valued and shown worth and importance and this is something that we all crave at our very core.

So on this All Souls Day, may you remember the loved ones who have passed on from this life. May you be grateful for the time, love, and memories that you shared with one another. May you pray for their souls as we all continue to pray for our own souls. Finally, may we all be reminded of a good Father in our God and His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. It is through these three that we have hope in a resurrection that we will one day be reunited with these people whom we hold so sacred because it is through them that we may one day experience a glorious reunion.

"Almighty God, we thank you for giving them to us to know and to love as companions in our pilgrimage here on earth though they are now hidden from us by the shadow of death. In your boundless compassion console we who mourn this day as we remember them with gratitude and love.
God, you are our refuge and strength.
Help and comfort us this day. Increase our faith. Dispel our fears. Revive our hope.

May the Holy Spirit lift us from the darkness of our grief to the light of your presence. Grant us that we may continue our course on earth in faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the Resurrection and the Life."

a prayer from various liturgies constructed by John Mark Hicks

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

-1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

--Casey Lankford