No Christian is solitary. Through baptism we become members one of another in Christ, members of a company of saints whose mutual belonging transcends death:
One family, we dwell in him, one Church, above, beneath;
though now divided by the stream, the narrow stream of death. (Charles Wesley)
All Saints’ Day and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed on All Souls’ Day both celebrate this mutual belonging.
All Saints’ Day
All Saints’ Day is the time when we celebrate the Communion of Saints, of which all the baptised are members. Traditionally, All Saints’ has become associated with the men and women in whose lives the Church as a whole has seen the grace of God powerfully at work. It is an opportunity to give thanks for that grace, and for the wonderful ends to which it shapes a human life; it is a time to be encouraged by the example of the saints and to recall that sanctity may grow in the ordinary circumstances, as well as the extraordinary crises, of human living.
Although All Saints’ Day falls on 1 November, we normally celebrate it in the Oakham Team on the nearest Sunday, and it is a particularly important occasion for Oakham and Braunston, both churches being dedicated to All Saints. This year we celebrate together as a Team on Sunday 30 October at 10:30am at All Saints Oakham, which will also be when we say farewell to our curate Revd Dr Dominic Coad.
All Souls’ Day
The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed celebrates the saints in a more local and intimate key. It allows us to remember with thanksgiving before God those whom we have known more directly: those who gave us life, or who nurtured us in faith.
On Wednesday 2 November at 12:00 noon at All Saints Oakham, we have a celebration of Holy Communion in Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Those whose loved ones’ funerals have been conducted within the Team in the last three years are particularly invited, and their names are read out with an opportunity for you to light a candle in their memory. Everyone is very welcome to add to the list of names read those who they wish to remember – names can be added to the list by the South Door at Oakham, or can be emailed to the office.
Redemption is a work of God’s grace; it is God who redeems us in Christ and there is nothing to be done beyond what Christ has done. But we still wait for the final consummation of God’s new creation in Christ; those who are Christ’s, whether or not they have passed through death, are joined in prayer that God’s kingdom will be revealed finally and in all its fullness. We also sense that it is a fearful thing to come before the unutterable goodness and holiness of God, even for those who are redeemed in Christ; that it is searing as well as life-giving to experience God’s mercy; and this instinct also is expressed in the liturgy of All Souls’ Day.