All Souls

I’ve never kept All Souls on a Sunday before – in the past we have keep it as an evening service during the week. For some of you, this will be the first time that you have been here for this service, though we have had as many as 40 folk out to keep it in the past on an evening.

Many of us gathered in Holy Trinity Stirling yesterday afternoon and kept the Feast of All Saints. When we remember the saints, we remember the heroes of faith. Those apostles, teachers, evangelists, martyrs, healers, and preachers who served God in their service of God’s people. The saints through the ages – those whom we know by name and those whose names are known only to God are remembered every year at the start of November.
When we remember them, we recall the special things that they did. The acts of courage. The lives of service. The faithful actions of those who brought the church into being and brought the faith, somehow or another to us.

We remember them, as the bible says, as a great cloud of witnesses. The cloud of people who witnessed to their faith in their time here on earth and are remembered forever more as being God’s beloved.

And immediately afterwards, the day after All Saint’s, we remember something which is similar, but different.

And the two usually, purposefully, intentionally get a little muddled up. All Saints and All Souls tend, quite properly, to get mixed up.

On this day, we remember those who have died who were known more personally to us.

Not just those who brought the church into being and made it the thing it is today. But those who made us the people we are today. Giving thanks – always the vocation of the church is to give thanks in all things – giving thanks for their lives amongst us. Remembering them with gratitude and remembering them with love.

I find that this day when we remember those who have died is one of the most important to me in my ministry. For being with people when they are dying and being with people when someone has died are some of the most profound privileges of ministry.

I never sit with someone who is dying without being conscious that God sits with us.

I never stand at a grave or at the crematorium without feeling hope swell up in my own bones. Hope in a God who will take all things to himself in the end. A God who unites us, ultimately unites us within himself by drawing us on in love.

Sometimes I know that I am the only one who is there who has that hope. And I know that grief can dull our sense of God. But I know. And I believe.

One of the important things about this feast is that we keep it together. One of the things that I know to be true is that grief is raw. It is painful. It changes with time, but usually, we live through it and don’t really shake it off.

For me, it has become important to keep this feast with others. For I know that although no-one really knows what our own pain is like except God, it still helps to come together and share it with other people.

For we all have our losses. We all have our griefs.

On this day we mark that fact together. We mark the fact that none of us go on together. We commend those who have died to the care of Almighty God. We meet as friends of Christ. Christ who stood at the edge of the grave of a friend and wept.

When we remember Jesus on this day. Let us remember one who knew love. Who knew grief for himself. And who knew death.

Our God did not become a great hero. In an odd way, I find it comforting that God did not come to earth as a saint nor as an angel.

God came to earth to be a human being. And that meant sharing in our sorrows. And knowing what it meant to feel the pain of loss.

God came to this earth and shared the full measure of what it meant to be human.

I ask you today. If our God came to earth and shared in all our hopes and dreams, should we not try ourselves to look into eternity and share all of God’s hopes and dreams too.

Let us dream the kingdom of God into being. Let us keep the hope of heaven in our hearts and build the kingdom of God here on earth.

Countless thousands have gone before us building the kingdom. Endless love has been poured on us by the God who made us. All the hopes and dreams of humankind have lived in the minds of those whom we have known who have died.

We live in a world which habitually denies the reality of death – a reality which comes to us all in the end and which we all have to cope with at some time. One of the most positive things that marks Christian’s out from the world around them is that they do not deny the reality of death and yet? And yet they persist in their faith in a God who came to earth who offers us nothing, nothing at all but love.

In the face of death – we have lives to live and love to give.

We have a kingdom to build.

There is work which others have begun. Work for us to complete.



  1. Kelvin says

    Re: All Souls
    As o­ne of those attending Sunday's service to mourn a much loved son ,I found this an extremely moving sermon and, o­n re- reading it today, I am equally moved and equally tearful. 

    Helen Mackay 

Speak Your Mind