Several years ago at Hope Valley, we began a tradition of celebrating All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday in November. All Saints’ Day may not be familiar to everyone, but it has deep roots in Christian history. In the early church, it became customary for the believers to set aside time in worship to remember those brothers and sisters who had been martyred for their faith. Over time, as the list of martyrs continued to grow, the church began setting aside one day a year to remember those “saints” who had suffered and died because of their faithfulness. By 835 A.D., “All Saints’ Day” was celebrated annually on November 1 in an effort to remember the martyrs and canonized saints of the church. It became something of a Christian Hall of Fame day.
In recent years, many Protestant traditions have rediscovered and given new shape to this ancient holy day. Recognizing that the New Testament uses the term “saints” to describe all Christians, “All Saints’ Day” has become an occasion to remember and celebrate the lives of those “saints” within one’s own church who have passed away during the previous year. On Sunday, November 1, during our “All Saints’ Day” service at Hope Valley, we will call the names of those church members who have passed away during the last twelve months. We will have a special time of prayer for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
This day has become a wonderful opportunity to thank God for those faithful servants who have made such positive contributions to the life of Hope Valley Baptist Church. Remembering their example also inspires and challenges me to greater faithfulness. As God’s Word reminds us, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” Hebrews 12:1-2