Of course I love All Saints Day. It's one of those clergy gold mines. My fb and twitter feed fill up with people's fervor over it (and remind me, once again, how many church nerds are in my sphere). A liturgical container for grief and mourning? A day to remember those we have loved and lost to death? A chance to remember that we, too, are saints? Yes, sign me up. This year, we decided to have a Show and Tell All Saints service. We invited everyone to bring an object that represents a dead loved one. We carried in and lit all of our extra candles. We filled our sand cross with playground sand and votives and put it in the center of our gathering. Normally, we put our chairs in an arc, but yesterday, we gathered them in a circle around the cross. (May the circle be unbroken). As people arrived, they were invited to write their name and the names of all their dead saints on the white altar cloth.
We heard All My Tears (Julie Miller) as a prelude and then sang For All The Saints together.
We invited people to participate in the Show and Tell Litany of Saints. Those who wanted to held up their object and told us why it reminded them of their loved one, each person ending with "I remember (saint's name)." The assembly responded, "We give thanks for (saint's name)." Then they lit a votive in the sand cross.
What an honor it was to hear about these people. One minute into this Show and Tell, I was struck by the trust/risk/vulnerability. I find myself so incredibly grateful for each soul gathered--and each story we heard--which allowed us to get a peek into their holy lives. (Thank you for trusting us, Humble folk).
When we gathered for communion, the words from the Great Thanksgiving that I could not remember in the moment were, "joining with all the saints of all time and all places..." But we got the idea. The names on the altar helped.
And then I got to remind everyone that they are blessed. Not one day. Not when we have it together. Not when we are fixed. Not when we feel like it. Today we are blessed. Jesus says we are blessed and that creates a new reality.
There were a number of people who for a variety of reason couldn't be with us physically. Conflicts or travel or because they live across the country. They sent me a message (and one posted a pic) with their object and loved ones name. A good reminder that every time we gather for worship, we gather on behalf of those who cannot.