I believe God is doing a new thing.
And I also believe God works through old things; namely, traditions that help us remember what and who we need to remember.
Remembering is at the core of the Christian faith. Paul said, “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Timothy 2:8). Jesus said, concerning, “do this as often as you remember me” (Luke 22:19). The New Testament begins by calling its readers to remember the Old Testament. It’s at this point, I think there is such an important call for followers of Jesus to faithfully remember and give thanks for the saints who have come before us via All Saints Day.
Go with me to the beginning of the New Testament to Matthew 1:1. There, as we learn about Jesus, we also learn about those that came before Jesus. Immediately there is a connection of Jesus with two powerhouse names from the Old Testament, David and Abraham. Isn’t it curious that the New Testament begins with the Old? Isn’t it curious that before Matthew tells you about Jesus he reminds you of who came before him? Isn’t it curious that Jesus’ life is connected to others in the faith before him?
Why is this?
Perhaps because the Christian faith is about remembering those that came before us.
If you are a follower of Jesus you did not become one on your own, someone helped you. Whether a Gideon placing a Bible in a hotel room, a family member praying for you, or someone inviting you to church to hear the gospel message, our faith is always tied to the faith of others. The faith we have is because people with faith came before us and exercised their faith for the sake of ours.
This is what All Saint’s Day is about: a day to remember and give thanks to those in the faith who have gone before us. As Abraham trusted God to go to a distant land, so Jesus trusted God to go to the cross. As David cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” so Jesus cried out those same words in his agony.
Saints are not perfect people that the church worships on All Saint’s Day. Saints are those who have gone before us and lived their lives for the sake of the Gospel. They are those who brought us to faith. They are those who said “Yes!” to the Holy Spirit. They are those that prayed to God for us even when we may have been cursing God before we came to faith.
As God keeps doing new things in our midst, may we also remember what we need to remember…the gospel…Communion…the saints who have gone before us. May we praise God for their witness to us as we continue to contend for the faith that was delivered to us by delivering it to the next generation.