Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Souls Day

We gather here today out of love.

Men and women who have been a part of our lives - family members and friends - are no longer with us. However, they are never far from our thoughts. We remember them this day.

Love brings us here. Those we have lost were the ones who nurtured us, comforted us and taught us how to live. Though they no longer live among us, we still hear their voices ringing in our ears. Our thoughts are filled with the lessons they taught us. Our hearts are still warmed by the love they showed us. Our souls are still nourished by their example of goodness, kindness and gentleness.

Love draws us here to pray. For some of us, our grief is still fresh. We may have lost our loved one in just the past year or few months. For others of us, we have learned to cope with the loss of our loved ones over many years. However, for all of us, love bids us to remember them and to thank God for them.

Not only our thoughts go up to them but our prayers as well that God will forgive their sins and welcome them into their everlasting reward.

We gather here today not only out of love, then, but out of faith.

We are a people who believe that death does not have the last word on life or on love. We are a people who rest assured that Jesus Christ by offering His life on the cross has destroyed death forever. Spurred on by this faith, we gather to proclaim the truth of His resurrection victory in the face of our grief.

Our faith teaches us that God does not grant life to take it away again. Rather, death is a passage to an everlasting life awaiting us in heaven where there will be no more suffering and no more tears. The way to that new life was opened to us by Jesus’ death on the cross. Through His blood we have the forgiveness of our sins. By His teaching, He has shown us how we are to live in this world with our hearts fixed on the things of Heaven. By the gift of the Holy Spirit we received in baptism, we have the power to live according to His commandments so that, when we are called to leave this world, we will be ready to enter the glory of Heaven.

That faith brings us here today confident that, while we mourn those we have loved and lost, it is possible for us to one day be reunited with them in Heaven.  

We gather here today, then, not only out of love, not only out of faith but also out of hope.

Our hearts assure us that we have not lost our loved ones forever. We hope that they are even now on their journey to an everlasting homeland with God in Heaven. Trusting in our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness, we pray that they are being cleansed of their human weakness, purged of their sinful inclinations and made ready to step into God’s unapproachable light. And we hope to one day see them again.

That hope brings us here, the hope that they continue to live on. With our hearts fixed on that blessed assurance, we keep our own hearts pure. Entrusting our own future to God’s goodness, we live in joyful expectation of the eternal life to come. We gather here today, then, not only in tears but with rejoicing that God will one day wipe every tear away, that the suffering of the present will be overcome by the joy of the future and that death will no longer threaten to separate us from those we love.

We gather here with faith, hope and love. These three gifts were planted in our hearts at baptism when our Heavenly Father first called us to be members of His family and offered us the inheritance of everlasting life in Heaven. These three gifts sustain us as we face the difficulties of life. And no difficulty is greater than that of death. But our Savior, Jesus Christ, has conquered death. In His name we pray that our loved ones finally enter into their heavenly homeland, that they pray for us as we struggle here on earth to do our God’s will and that we one day join them to praise God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit with the angels and saints forever.

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