"Those to Glory Gone...
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.
Charles Wesley, John's brother, picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist Hymnal as "Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above," #709. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages:
Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone,
for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.
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. We tell the stories of the saints "to glory gone."
Alongside the likes of Paul from the New Testament, Augustine, Martin Luther, and John and Charles Wesley, we tell stories of the grandmother who took us to church every Sunday. We remember the pastor who prayed with us in the hospital, and the neighbor who changed the oil in the family car. We give thanks for the youth leader who told us Jesus loved us, the kindergarten Sunday school teacher who showered us with that love, and the woman in the church who bought us groceries when we were out of work.
Retelling these stories grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be."
We are blessed to have enjoyed the companionship and love of those among us who have gone ahead to heaven. Each person shared themselves with us as members or constituents (non-members who make a commitment through regular attendance, gifts and service) and gave us opportunities to learn more about Jesus Christ by the way they lived their lives. We grieve the earthly loss to their families and friends, but rejoice in their eternal life.
Mary Frances Dickerson
Frances Ione Hause
Glenn Boyer, Jr.
The quoted text above is taken from an article published by the United Methodist Church, "All Saints Day: A Holy Day John Wesley Loved" To read the complete article please click HERE.