1 Let us now sing the praises of famous men (and women), our ancestors in their generations. 2 The Lord apportioned to them great glory, God's majesty from the beginning. 3 There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valor; those who gave counsel because they were intelligent; those who spoke in prophetic oracles; 4 those who led the people by their counsels and by their knowledge of the people's lore; they were wise in their words of instruction;5 those who composed musical tunes, or put verses in writing; 6 rich persons endowed with resources, living peacefully in their homes— 7 all these were honored in their generations, and were the pride of their times. 8 Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise. 9 But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. 10 But these also were godly people, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; 11 their wealth will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance with their children's children. 12 Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. 13 Their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out. 14 Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on generation after generation. 15 The assembly declares their wisdom, and the congregation proclaims their praise.
From the Apocrypha of the Bible
Sirach or Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15
Along with the hymn by the same name; this passage from Sirach 44 is one of my favorites. I think this passage best encapsulates what All Saints Day is all about.
Many churches celebrate an All Saints Day Service this Sunday, the first Sunday of November. This year All Saints Day was actually Tuesday. So, the question remains; "are there any saints left around today?"
Most people would agree that Mother Theresa was probably the most famous of those recent Saints to have died, but will be forever remembered for how she lived her life for others.
Maybe we need to look at the definition of a saint. According to the Bible, a saint is a member of the baptized community of God. That's it?! "You mean – that's all there is to be a saint?" That's it! Then we're all Saints? Perhaps!
The Bible doesn't say one word about having to live a super human nor perfect life; or have a statue made of your physical likeness; you don't have to be mentioned in the Bible and maybe the most surprising is, you don't have to be dead, or a ghost to be thought of as a saint.
We are pretty good at memorializing folks after they're dead. We send flowers; donate money, put plaques on about anything, why we even light candles. It sort of makes you wonder what they think of all this fuss. Those saints, who from their labors rest. Think of all the people who have gone before us, ended their earthly life? They're surrounding us, watching us, cheering us on. The stories of their lives inspire our faith and our lives. Because they have been a witness in their life and their lives cheer us on throughout our lives too.
How do they live on, those giants of our childhood, and how will they manage to take even death in stride because although death can put an end to them, it can never put an end to our relationship to them. Movies and TV Shows now bombard us with those that have "crossed over" and still have power over their loved ones here and now. Memory is more than a looking back to a time that is no longer; it is as if we're looking out at another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and change as we pick up an article of their clothing or see something else in life that reminds us of them and what they did for us and we smile and we pause and give thanks.
Our family and friends, the people who loved us through our childhoods into adulthood were/are the saints. The people who for good or ill taught us the "stuff" of life and faith. Dead and gone though they may be, as we come to understand them in new ways, it is as though they've come to understand us – and through them we come to understand ourselves – in new ways too. Who knows what "the communion of saints" means, but surely it means more than just that we are all of us haunted by ghosts. Because they are not ghosts, these people we once knew, not just echoes of voices that have years since ceased to speak, but saints in the sense that through them something of the power of God and the richness of life itself not only touched us once long ago, but continues to touch us today.