Why Do We Celebrate All Saints Day?
Shared with you by the FUMC Worship Team
November 1 is All Saints’ Day, but this date is not nearly as well known as the day before, “All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve,” better known as Halloween. This Sunday, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day during our morning worship service.
John Wesley enjoyed and celebrated All Saints’ Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.” Wesley’s comments may sound odd. United Methodists don’t believe in saints. Right? Well, yes... and no. We recognize Matthew, Paul, John, Luke, and other early followers of Jesus as saints, and countless numbers of United Methodist churches are named after these saints. We also recognize and celebrate "all the saints who from their labors rest."
All Saints' Day is a time to remember Christians of every time and place, honoring those who lived faithfully and shared their faith with us. All Saints’ Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church. From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12, the author encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on.
United Methodists call people "saints" because they exemplified the Christian life. In this sense, every Christian can be considered a saint. On All Saints’ Day we remember all those—famous or obscure—who are part of the “communion of saints” we confess whenever we recite The Apostles’ Creed. On All Saints’ Day (Sunday), we recognize that we are part of a giant choir singing the same song. It is the song Jesus taught his disciples; a tune that has resonated for more than 2,000 years; a melody sung in glory and on the earth. Our great privilege is to add our voices to this chorus. As we celebrate All Saints’ Day this Sunday, let us give thanks for both the saints in glory and those on earth, who have led us to Jesus. As they have shared the gospel with us, may we add our voices so that someone else may hear about the grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for the lives of his saints.