Advent begins in just a few days. If you are looking for a fresh, new devotional to guide you through Advent, let me lift up Journey to Wholeness.
My former colleague from John Calvin Presbytery, Susan Rosenbaum, put together an Advent devotional written by women clergy and CLPs from around the country. There is a link to the PDF below. I have permission to share this with you! What a gift Susan and many of our women clergy have provided us.
Today is All Saint’s Day, or Halloween, Part 2 as I like to think of it. As I mentioned in my last post, last evening was All Hallow’s Eve, and just like Christmas Eve/Christmas, today is a continuation of the celebration that started at sundown last night. Just like Halloween, today we remind ourselves that Death does not have hold of our lives, but new life. We remember those who have gone before us. But more importantly we remember that Death is not the end of their story. In many ways yesterday and today are Christians laughing in the face of death and saying “That is not the end of our story! Death does not scare us. It doesn’t define us. New Life does!”
One of the readings for this All Saints’ Day is one of my favorite passages from Revelation. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more.”
It is quite the “rounding out” of the biblical narrative. What began in Genesis with the creation of the world, we end with a new creation. It is almost a mirror of events. But instead of going backward, the events are transformed anew.
It is a breathtaking vision or restoration and new life. It is the ultimate blessing, when all will come into harmony with the Almighty. No mourning. No crying. No pain.
Today marks a time when the church has historically celebrated the dead, the communion of saints, those who have gone before us. (Does it shock you that Halloween has as many Christian roots as this??? Most are shocked.)
Many of the saints of the church went through enormous torment and pain, and Revelation speaks into that pain. Many saints were martyrs, who literally bled for the cause of Christ. Christ, himself, was a part of the violent deaths. Many of our modern day “saints” like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi were assassinated.
It is hard to make sense of violence and needless acts of hatred. I tend to chalk it up to what I call the convulsions of the world, uneasy and ill-equipped to deal with Christ’s message of reconciliation. And so the world revolts. It is birth pangs of a new peace, a peace which Revelation looks toward.
On this day, not only do we look back and remember the important people of our lives who influenced our faith, but we also look forward to the day when God’s “YES” will overcome everyone of our “NOs”.
So let us continue the Halloween celebrations and literally laugh in the face of death, for death does not define our story in the slightest.