Who Has Mentored You in Faith?
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Today, November 2, is “All Faithful Departed” (or “All Souls’ Day”) on the church calendar. We remember today the “regular” saints who have gone before us in the faith, not the big Saints - martyrs and such with a capital “S” - who we remember on November 1, All Saints’ Day. We also remember that in the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to describe ALL of those in the Christian community - i.e., the faithful. So perhaps it doesn’t matter so much if we mix up who we are remembering on November 1 and 2! The point is to remember all of those who inspired us by their own faithfulness... by taking risks for Christ - whether they were martyred or taught us in Sunday School or encouraged us to work for social justice.
It is appropriate today to remember those who have died AND who mentored you in some way, who made a huge difference in your coming to faith in Christ. Those might be your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your church camp counselors, perhaps a priest or a deacon or a nun or your high school or college roommates - you know who they are! They are the people who were role models foryou - role models in the faith.
Today we pause to give thanks for those folks. And we give thanks to God that they are now in the nearer presence of our Lord, continuing to grow in faith as they praise God and worship with the angels and archangels in heaven. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians - 1 Thessalonians is the oldest book in the New Testament, by the way - we, too, shall be raised. (See also Romans 6:4-5.) Death has been destroyed (see 1 Corinthians 15, especially verse 26 and verses 54-57). So we celebrate today those who are alive with Christ in a whole new way, and we celebrate that - through the common bond we have in Christ - we are all part of the “communion of saints”, which includes those who have died and the faithful who are still alive.
There is a lot to celebrate and be thankful for on this day! “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)