Listen to this Post via Text-to-Speech Narration
by Rev. Kim Wood
For all the Saints who from their labors rest,
Who to the world their steadfast faith confessed,
Your name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia! Alleluia!
(New Century Hymnal, p. 299)
Over the past couple of months, I have been humbled to be present with several of our Southeast Conference congregations during their anniversary and homecoming celebrations, including:
- Belvidere United Church of Christ in Belvidere, TN
- First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Atlanta, GA
- RIM (Real Inspiration Ministries) Fellowship UCC in Atlanta, GA
- First Congregational Christian Church, United Church of Christ in Montgomery, AL
Each time of gathering and worship was unique to that faith community’s history and traditions. Each celebration honored those who had received God’s vision to start a new congregation and those who stepped out on faith and toiled and sacrificed to make that vision a reality. They lauded the many who had followed the Holy Spirit’s lead to take the Gospel out into the community. They praised God for what was, what is, and what is yet to come. In some cases, the commitment to be church together and church for others began many generations ago, while in others, the generation of those who began the journey still hold hands with the generations who have emerged. In each case, as it has been for so many of our church settings in the Southeast Conference, UCC, these congregations have acknowledged and celebrated the homegoing of faithful servants along the way.
All Saints Day is one of the ways that many congregations traditionally celebrate the lives of those who have left earthly life during the previous year. This season, I am reminded that, over these past couple years, many of our families and congregations have been inundated with farewells, funerals and memorials, and missing voices and faces around the table. And so, we praise God for our beloved who have entered into God’s eternity. The toll has been great. But I also thank them for not only ministering in their time but for leaving us with ideas yet to be realized, hope to move us forward, and encouragement for others to pick up the mantle and listen to the Still-Speaking God that the community of Jesus followers might continue to serve and love to the fulfillment of God’s Realm. So thanks be to God for those people who have come before us, leaders and servants in the ministry of Christ! And thanks be to God for God’s people today, singing and dancing, preaching and teaching, reaching out and drawing together, serving as each has been gifted to the Glory of God! Whether we have gathered for over 150 years or a few short months, may we celebrate that God is in our midst and has provided us with both roots and wings to do justice, love and practice kindness, and walk humbly with God in Christ’s holy name.