By 8:15 this morning – well, actually, before this morning it would have been 9:15, since we rolled back away from Daylight Savings Time at 3am. Actually, I was awake at that time, as I was for some dumb reason for most every hour, as I would look at my changed clock, and do a moment of math to tell me that yesterday it would have been 3am instead of 2am, and 4:30 instead of 3:30. Perhaps the greatest waste of a wonderful night where you are given an extra hour of sleep is that I actually got up at 6am – 7am yesterday – which was in fact a chance to sleep in a little, but … 6am? You have to be kidding me.
Anyway, setting time business aside, since we have actually the exact amount of daylight today as we did yesterday, so changing clocks is more an exercise in trying to remember how this clock is easy, and this other clock is one we should have thrown away long ago, because the digital readout refuses to change unless you say the magic words or something.. Anyway, by 8:15 this morning, Cheri had already gathered all the Halloween decorations from around the living room and dining room, and put them on the table, ready to be wrapped up and stuffed in the plastic bin until next October. Halloween has a very short half-life around our house. Two and a half weeks tops, and when the actual day of Halloween is over, the décor of the house refuses to tolerate a single ghost or pumpkin, unless it is the set of hand blown pumpkins which are suitable for a Thanksgiving decoration, giving them a reprieve for three or four more weeks.
So this is actually a pretty busy transitional day: Halloween is put away, Thanksgiving decorations will be brought out and turkeys and little pilgrims will find their way onto tables and the tops of cupboards. Daylight Savings time is over until March, and “regular” or standard time take over… and we have a new month, making it four months since I took retired status. 1/3 of a year. Seems almost longer than that, especially when measured by the coronavirus.
More significantly, however, is that today is known as All Saints Day. Actually, in our Christian tradition, Halloween only makes sense when you know about All Saints Day. “All Hallows Eve” was the time when we would begin to celebrate those who have died, the saints and martyrs of the faith, and anyone by whom our lives were brought deeper in faith, who is no longer with us. But today begins a minor season known as Allhallowtide, starting with a great festival day called “All Saints Day.” It’s unusual and kind of neat that the day actually falls on a Sunday, making the celebration in worship a wonderful time of remembering our departed loved ones and the other giants of our faith heritage.
The great hymn for today sings out: “For all the saints, who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus be forever blessed. Alleluia! Alleluia!” The words, of course, are poetic, but they really are meant to a tribute of blessings to the saints, who now rest from their earthly work of standing before the world and confessing the very name of Jesus Christ. The word “alleluia” means simply “all praise to God.”
You see, our work as the followers of Jesus is pretty simple. We are not called to recreate the world, or anything like that. That will be God’s work. Our task, as John Wesley stated it, is to “spread scriptural holiness across the land.” By our words and our witness, we too stand before the world, and make the powerful statement that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, that abundant and eternal life comes as a gift of God, and that we invite the world to join us in singing the song of our eternal faith, as one of the “saints.” In the Roman Catholic tradition, saints were/are named for their “heroic sanctity,” which often include evidence of a miracle occurring that is associated with their life somehow. For us in the Protestant tradition, however, we claim anyone who has lived a life of faith and in relationship with Jesus to be a saint. My folks are saints, and today I bless them, as they gather around God’s throne in heaven and enjoy eternity praising God. What a great image, and I believe it can also be one that we hold on to during the pandemic time. In the dark days of continuing disease and death, and the anxiety and dis-ease that we feel, beyond contracting the virus, it seems to only make sense that we would take time, even as the days grow shorter, and dedicate the next 54 days to celebrate saints in anticipation of celebrating a birthday of our King Jesus.
I’m not a fan of the New Orleans football team, but after living in the city for a year, I was able to witness funeral marches, in which a sad and slow dirge was played as the casket was carried to the gravesite, and the mourners slowly brought their tears and honest sadness at the loss of someone they loved. But it was after the graveside service was completed, the last words spoken, that there would be a jarring and mind-changing crash of cymbals and the blaring of trumpets, and the opening of colorful umbrellas as the mourners were invited to become witnesses of the faith, and to celebrate that one of their own, a new saint as it were, was joining Jesus in heaven! “Oh, when the saints go marching in – O Lord! I want to be in THAT number, when the saints go marching in…”
Our work in these days to come, is to find the reasons, the causes, and the impetus to celebrate life, and death, and life beyond death, knowing God is with us through it all, and welcomes us in both life and death to find our very existence in the midst of God’s care and love.
Have a great All Saints’ Day!
Word for the Day: macaronyish. Yes – from “macaroni.” Just put an “ish” on the end. Macaroni was originally not a pasta – it was more like a gnocchi. Gnocchi is made from usually potatoes, and pasta is from wheat. However, by the late 1600s, macaroni was noted as the larger strings of pasta, and the little was the vermicelli.
Anyway, macaroni was viewed as an elegant, continental dish, often enjoyed by the rich young noblemen who would take the Grand Tour as the finishing of their formal education. They would visit the European capitals, the fine museums, meet with other nobles and important leaders, and they would therefore be incorporated into high society. They were typically snobs, and would describe themselves as cultured and cosmopolitan, even flamboyant.
One of the crazes of the late 1700s was for young men to wear a fancy hairpiece, known as a “macaroni” wig. That’s the one in “Yankee Doodle,” where a feather is stuck in the cap of the American, and called “macaroni” – that was the fanciest they were going to be.
So, “macaronyish” means the behavior or mannerisms of anyone who is acting like a dandy or someone self-styled overly fancy or just over the top in their dress or actions. Kind of a long way from being told you look like a noodle, I guess…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.