These last weeks in our church family, we have sadly said goodbye to a number of much loved members of our church. This year, as a whole, has been one where many of us have experience the loss of loved ones either directly through the Covid virus or in other ways. As people of faith who believe in eternal life that God offers us through Christ, we can rejoice in that gift but also know sometimes very sharply the pain of loss and separation from loved ones.
This approaching time in the church calendar is traditionally a time of remembrance and is a fitting time to remember those we’ve loved and lost. In recent years in the Christian Calendar, we have described the days in November between All Saints, through All Souls & Remembrance as ‘Kingdom Season’. This season culminates in the Feast of ‘Christ the King’ at the end of November which marks the end of the Christian Calendar.
All Saints’ Day and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed on All Souls’ Day both celebrate our mutual belonging to God’s Kingdom. All Saints’ Day celebrates men and women in whose lives the grace of God is at work: that includes famous Saints from the past and saints in the present. St Paul, in addressing many of his letters to the ‘saints’, that is to members of the church, reminds us that we are all ‘saints’ through whom God’s grace can work. It is therefore a time of year when it is appropriate to celebrate all who are part of the Body of Christ and the many gifts and talents that God gives us to forward the purposes of the church.
At ‘All Souls’ we remember with thanksgiving all those whose lives and love we’ve shared who have gone before us. We do that as Christians, believing that God’s love extends beyond this mortal life but knowing the pain of loss at the death of a loved one. We therefore seek to offer comfort to those bereaved at this time. Remembrance Sunday goes on to explore the theme of memory, both corporate and individual, as we confront issues of war and peace, thanksgiving for self-giving in the service of others, loss, memory and forgetting. The annual cycle of the Church’s year then ends with the Feast of Christ the King. The year that begins with the hope of the coming Messiah at Advent ends with the proclamation of his universal sovereignty.
This is a change in pace for us in the Church and my hope and prayer is that we are able to journey through this Kingdom Season with Christ and each other deepening our relationships so that at the end of this Christian year we’re able to proclaim anew and together that Christ is OUR King.
With my continued prayers and good wishes.