Yesterday was All Saints Sunday in the Protestant tradition. Highlighting that central belief for us as Christians of the Communion of Saints – that all believers in every time and place are bound together in Christ. That we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses whose lives lend us their strength, their courage, and their resilience through all that life can bring.
It is not that we are necessarily given some mystical or magical link to them, but rather something far more simple. Far more fundamental. Far more profound.
We are connected through their stories.
This is not only true for the incredible humans included in the stories of our scriptures, but also the stories of our own lives and families. It is one of the most essential ways we keep someone alive after they have gone into the great beyond.
Tales of gumption. Narratives of woe. Chronicles of overcoming every obstacle. Yarns that make us roll on the floor in fits of laughter. Have you ever wondered why they have such an immense impact upon us?
They connect us. They give us what we need. Yet they also teach us who we are, where we come from, and whose we are. Bound together, the dead and the living are all a part of the great storyline of God’s family.
But we must make room for the dead. We cannot silently sweep them from our lives when they pass from this world, letting generations rise up without the knowledge of those who made them who they are.
As a child of three parents – the mother and father who gave me birth, and the dad who stepped up when my first father joined the Church Triumphant at far too young an age – I can attest that I am a combination of all three. Their stories are mine. And mine is certainly part of theirs.
Now it is my charge to ensure my own children know their stories, too, along with those of their father and his family. Not to mention all the other extensive extended family that has made us who we are. For lest we forget, God’s idea of family is always on the inclusive side and making more room at the table.
My point is this, it not only our work as humans and God’s followers to share the stories of our broader faith with our children, but also the tales of our own families and wider lives so that they will know the saints who have made them who they are. Who still watch over them. And who love them more than they can imagine, even if it is from a different shore.