~ Wall of Remembrance~
“I thank God in all my remembrance of you”
~ Philippians 1:3
Dear Members and Friends,
November 7 is “All Saints’ Sunday,” and we have something special planned. But before we get into that, let’s talk about this: Don’t you love the smell of a furnace kicking on for the first time in the fall—the dust burning off the long-unused heating element? When do you finally give in and switch on the furnace in autumn? My rule is Halloween. The furnace stays off until the last day in October. (In all truth, I have not enforced that rule since I got married; I can’t stand the sight of My Three Ladies shivering and walking around the house in coats and gloves and fuzzy socks.) Little did I know until recently that my rule about lighting up the furnace on Halloween is an ancient one. The early inhabitants of Britain and Ireland saw October 31 as the last day of summer; November 1 was the beginning of winter. They marked the arrival of winter by lighting great bonfires so that everyone in the village could take some flames and embers home to light their own hearths for the season. October 31 was also a night of great movement between the world of the living and the dead. It was on this night that all those who had died in the preceding year were allowed to travel on to the spirit world. Also, the dead were given a few hours to return to their earthly haunts and homes. The bonfires were needed to heat people’s homes, but also to light the way for the many spirits who were in transit on that night.
In the 700s, the Church christened these pagan rites and made of them a now-forgotten season called “Allhallowtide.” It consisted of three consecutive days: 1) Halloween, when the dead commuted back and forth and hearths were lit against the cold. 2) All Saints’ Day, when all those who had lived the life in faith, whether known or unknown, great or small, remembered or forgotten, were celebrated and honored. 3) All Souls’ Day, when all the souls that ever lived were commended back to God and tucked back into bed for another year in their eternal rest. Traditions surrounding death and remembrance are among the oldest, most universal practices of human societies.
Which brings us to November 7, 2021, “All Saints’ Sunday.” COVID has disrupted so much of our lives that we thought a new ritual was in order. We would like to celebrate All Saints’ this year by paying a delayed tribute to members of our church who departed from among us during COVID. A church member said to me, “I wish I could just see their faces again. We didn’t even get to go to their funerals.” And so the idea to create a Wall of Remembrance was born: a place inside the church where you can go to see the faces of those sixteen members of our community who died during COVID. There, you will read a few words about them and, if you want, light a candle in their memory. Gaze on their familiar faces once again. Share memories. Write a few words of your own on a post-it note, and stick it beside the photo of one you love—maybe a prayer, or a memory, or a blessing. The Wall of Remembrance will be unveiled on All Saints’ Sunday on the bulletin board just outside the Friendship Room.
In this season of Thanksgiving and remembrance, we hope you’ll take an opportunity to give thanks for the many blessings of your life, but also for the people who have helped you along in your journey through this world. Let’s not take each other for granted. I’m glad to be making this journey beside you. In Christ’s Peace,