Tonight is the Eve of All Hallows (or All Saints as it is more commonly known now and shortened to “Halloween” of course), and tomorrow is All Saints Day, that feast day for those extraordinary people who have walked among us, whose lives and works changed the world and whose faith led them into danger, sacrifice and defiance. All Souls Day, Saturday, November 2 is when we have the special intention of remembering those we loved who have died. Those ordinary children of God who happened to be extraordinary to us. This is when we make the liturgical acknowledgement that everyone is important to God and will be welcomed into everlasting life. All souls, saint or no, faithful or not.
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Light and dark. Words that are as simple as black and white – and words that hold as much unintended meaning. Too often the concept of darkness implies danger, malevolence, sin…but there is also goodness to be found in the darkness. Science tells us that our bodies heal best during our sleep. And from the darkness of a cocoon, change, growth and beauty can emerge.
At St. Alban’s this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. an All Souls’ Day service of prayers and music will include meditative chants with the power to bond a congregation into a prayerful community, as they do for the French community of Taizé. And as part of the service the choir will sing a larger work by British composer Bob Chilcott, Canticles of Light, based on three ancient Latin hymns which ask for God’s protection and comfort through the night and for renewed strength and hope in the new day to come.
Grieving for those we see no more is its own kind of darkness, no doubt. May it be the darkness of feeling cocooned by God’s love and by the love of this community. I hope that it is the darkness from which those who mourn can emerge stronger and more beautiful. And perhaps there will be one moment of music during the All Souls’ Service of Remembrance on Saturday which draws someone from their cocoon of grief into the radiant light of God’s healing touch.