|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on November 3, 2021 at 10:40 AM|
Last Monday(11/1) was All Saints’ Day and we will celebrate this beautiful annual remembrance on Sunday(11/7). This isn’t simply a day that we remember the famous saints like St. Alban and others who have passed from this life to life eternal. It is also for remembering those people from our own lives who have meant so much to us(spouses, parents, children, other family members, friends, mentors, etc.). It is a reminder that, even though we believe in the sure hope of the resurrection, we live with the pain of grief. Granted, some people ‘move on’ more easily than others but, for some, grief can become an all-consuming part of one’s life. The reality is that grief can and does have a lasting imprint on our hearts and minds. Some famous musicians, artists and writers(Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Foster, for example) have been described as having suffered from ‘melancholy’(a pensive sadness). Is ‘melancholy’ what the beatitudes describe as being ‘poor in spirit’? Are those individuals considered ‘blessed’ because they can feel not only their own pain and grief, but that of others as well? I don’t know, but it is clear that not all people are meant to be the outgoing and gregarious personality type that is so often lauded.
It is clear that even Jesus felt grief. The Gospel reading for this Sunday is the passage from John 11 in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is so moved at seeing(and experiencing) the grief of Lazarus’ sisters that he weeps. However, after that expression of grief, it is what he says to Martha that is the ‘reminder’ of the sure and present hope of the resurrection. He said: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” We all need that ‘reminder’. For me, it is often through music and texts that I receive that reminder and feel comfort. Below is a favorite text, written by William J. Irons(1812-1883), that encapsulates the joy that can live along with grief. I hope it speaks peace to you.
Sing with All the Saints in Glory
Sing with all the saints in glory, sing the resurrection song! Death and sorrow, earth’s dark story, to the former days belong. All around the clouds are breaking, soon the storms of time shall cease; in God’s likeness we awaken, knowing ever-lasting peace. Oh, what glory, far exceeding all that eye has yet perceived! Holiest hearts for ages pleading never that full joy conceived. God has promised, Christ prepares it, there on high our welcome waits. Every humble spirit shares it, Christ has passed the eternal gates. Life eternal! Heaven rejoices: Jesus lives who once was dead. Shout with joy, O deathless voices! Child of God, lift up your head! Life eternal! Oh, what wonders crowd on faith, what joy unknown, when, amid earth’s closing thunders, saints shall stand before the throne!