Today in the Church calendar is All Saint's Day. Unlike other cultures, who celebrate during this time of year the thinning of the veil between this life and the next, Christian celebrations of All Saints do not include the idea of being able to communicate somehow better with our ancestors. In fact, we have no concept, in orthodox Christianity, of communicating with our ancestors. How could we? They are rejoicing in the presence of God and have no inclination to come near to us anymore. Now, that does not mean they didn't and don't love us, or care about us. It's just that they are with GOD. I mean, come on. Think of it this way, and this analogy is weak, because nothing earthly can compare.
Think of your beloved. Think of how you want to spend all your time and uninterrupted attention on that one special person you've been blessed with. Maybe it would be easier to think of your first teen-age crush, and how all-consuming that was. Whatever. Now think of the IRS knocking on your door, asking for an hour of your time. You have free choice to pick which you will do; no Federal penalties for ignoring the tax man this time! Which are you going to pick?
Now, think of Grandma, or Grandpa, or any special person who has gone beyond. Do you really think you're worth leaving the very presence of God for an hour for some conversation about life down here? I don't think so.
This hymn is one of my all-time favorites. We sang it today for All Saints', and I wanted to share it with those of you who may not know it. Those who do, yeah I share it with you, too. Enjoy!
Here's the tune.
Behold a host, arrayed in white,
Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright!
With palms they stand;
Who is this band
Before the throne of light?
These are the saints of glorious fame,
Who from the great affliction came
And in the flood
Of Jesus' blood
Are cleansed from guilt and shame.
They now serve God both day and night;
They sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring
As they all sing
With angels shining bright.
Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand,
A priestly band,
God's throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitter years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife
To heav'nly life,
and freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
The heav'nly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord,
At festive board,
Himself is Host and Guest.
O blessed saints in bright array
Now safely home in endless day,
Extol the Lord, Who with His Word
Sustained you on the way.
The steep and narrow path you trod;
You toiled and sowed the Word abroad;
Rejoice and bring
Your fruits and sing
Before the throne of God.
The myriad angels raise their song;
O saints, sing with the happy throng!
Lift up one voice;
Let heav'n rejoice
In our Redeemer's song!