This time last year we were forced to close the church for a second time. For me, that was the moment that confirmed what I had already begun to fear – Covid was going to be around for a long time to come. And here we are, a year later, wondering if this autumn might see another period of sterner restrictions on our economic, social and spiritual freedoms.
It is happening at a time when our church calendar makes a sustained effort to confront us with our mortality. Some call this short period before Advent the Kingdom season; I prefer to say ‘Remembrance-tide’.
It is also happening during the COP26 talks in Glasgow, talks not graced by clear signs of determination towards the kind of international co-operation that will be essential to so many of the things we need to do to address the climate crisis.
Cheerful stuff, in all!
Yet this All Saints’ Day remains a day of celebration. How so? Simply because it sets our lives in their proper context, eternity. It draws our attention to the lives of the countless un-named individuals who have faithfully loved God and neighbour and have now entered into the joy of their eternal reward.
This is not a cop out (no pun intended). Setting our lives in their eternal context does not excuse us from our duties in this world. On the contrary, it reinforces the moral seriousness of our position. We are accountable not just to each other but also to God for the use we make of the time that is given to us, and that includes our treatment of God’s wonderful creation.
Our Christian faith invites us to ‘check in’ regularly with our mortality for precisely this reason. The choices we make, moment by moment, hour by hour, look very different when viewed in the light of eternity. The cultivation of holiness, rather than wealth, becomes our priority, because that is where our true security lies.
We remember this weekend those ‘unsung heroes’ whose names are not recorded in our memorials and calendars but are nonetheless firmly written in the God’s book of life. Their number is growing all the time as prayerful, godly people all over the world cast off the restrictions of this earthly life and join the great company of heaven.
May God bless you all,