Second, it means that I have spent the day focusing less on “All Hallow’s Eve” (a.k.a. Halloween) and more on “All Saints Day”. You see, the first day of November is the day set apart each year on the Christian calendar for remembering all the Saints of the all the ages.
Now, granted, we Protestants (remember, I am a Baptist) are a bit conflicted about the whole notion of Sainthood. Technically, we abhor the Roman Catholic practice of venerating specific Saints. After all, even though they seem to have a “Patron” Saint for virtually everything and every situation, we tend to resist elevating mere human beings to any special spiritual significance.
And yet, practically, we appear to have no problem whenever March 17th rolls around joining in on all the fun with the luck of the Irish on “Saint” Patrick’s Day, by gathering lucky charms (such as four leaf clovers), intentionally wearing green, and/or pinching any unfortunate souls who happen not to have remembered to have done so.
Nor do we have any problem making merry amidst all of the festive celebrations related to the feast of “Saint” Nicholas. December 25th may be Christ’s birthday, but we sure place a lot of emphasis on ol’ Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Sinterklaas, or Santa Claus)!
Likewise, every February 14th, we spend a lot of time and effort and money acquiring chocolate, candy, flowers, and similar such items in order to express our love to our significant others. In the process, we quietly laud “Saint” Valentine on his special day for having given us this opportunity to reaffirm our love.
Given all of this, I find it interesting that so many Protestants make so much of an issue of Halloween on October 31st, and yet, fail to give any weight to the following calendar date, November 1st. Without the latter, the former has no real significance!
That November 1st date every year is set aside as “All Saints Day”; and I, for one, contend that it is appropriate for all true believers to celebrate this day. Why? I would suggest two reasons...
First, because all believers in all places in all times are in fact “Saints”! The Apostle Paul affirms this in First Corinthians, chapter 1, verse2, when he states: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours…”
In short, this is to say that all believers are saints. Thus, all believers matter! While I appreciate all that Nicholas, Patrick, and Valentine once did; this in no way downplays the innumerable untold sacrifices of countless other Saints down throughout the ages!
And second, because so many of these latter, unnamed Saints are responsible for me being exactly who I am. The cartoon character, Popeye, was famous for saying “I am what I am!” For my part, I know that “I am what I am” in large part because of the influence of a myriad of Saints who came before me and influenced me by their lives.
Some of these Saints are known by their name to billions, others to millions, still others to thousands. But most are known to only a few dozen or so at best. Thus, I owe my theology to the likes of men such as “Saint” Augustine of Hippo, but also to the likes of men such as “Saint” Alex Boatwright of my hometown.
I owe my ethics to men like “Saint” Thomas of Aquino, but also to men like “Saint” Lester Bray of my 9th and 10th grade Sunday School Class. And above all, I owe my knowledge of the Bible to men like “Saint” John, “Saint” Peter, and “Saint” Paul, but also to men like “Saint” Harry (Smith), “Saint” Glen (Higgins), “Saint” Claridge (Tucker), “Saint” Richard (Lee), and above all, “Saint” Ike (Reighard), each of whom who served as Pastor at my local Baptist Church throughout my formative years. (The last has particular significance in that he was the one who both licensed and ordained me to the profession of Christian Ministry.)
Now, you may well have heard of all these former Saints, but not necessarily these latter ones. If so, then that’s’ okay. I’m sure the same would be true for me if you listed those Saints who had been the most influential in your life. Either way, though, we would all do well to acknowledge and appreciate the Saints who have come before us – whether they be those who are more well known, or those who are known largely only to us and a few select others. Each one in his own way had a significant impact on us all.
Of course, there is One Other Who has knowledge of each and every Saint. That One is the very One Whom they each devoted their lives to serve and honor. That One is none other than Jesus Christ!
For this reason, I look forward to an eternity with Him, in which I will be able to hear, learn, and celebrate all the untold stories of all the untold victories of all the untold Saints of all the ages!
When that time comes, it will be not just “All Saints Day” once a year, but “All Saints” for all eternity, as together, we join them in the presence of our Lord and Savior forever.
Make that forever and forever, Amen!