"We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses" Hebrews 12:1.
Several of my loved ones are buried at this cemetery in Maryville, Tennessee. My grandmother and my infant brother rest near one another. It's a beautiful and serene place especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. My family visited the cemetery a few years ago and my son snapped this photo of me and Rob under the big tree. You'll notice the graves that are marked all around us. It is a perfect image to represent All Saints Day.
All Saints Day is a day on the Christian calendar for remembering those who have guided us in our faith. It is celebrated the first Sunday in November, right after All Hallow's Eve. Not all churches mark the occasion, but in the United Methodist churches I've pastored, we have a special service where we ring a bell for each member who has passed that year. Then we invite the congregation to light a candle in honor of their loved ones who they want to be remembered. It is beautiful to see the flickering lights and to know that each one represents a life of influence.
I think it's important for us to remember the saints, whether we do this in a church or in our home or at the cemetery. And by "saints" I simply mean believers who have gone to be with God. When we remember the saints, we remember our history and we acknowledge our faith in God's promises. We remember there is more for us after we live this life. We remember that the church is made up of believers not just here, but also in heaven.
Perhaps you will join me and the many others who will light a candle for All Saints Day. Wherever you are take a moment to say thank you, and receive the peace of knowing you are surrounded by their love.