- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: October 26 2016 October 26 2016
Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AmenCollect of the Day for All Saints' Day
The collect (prayer) for All Saints Day reminds us that we are blessed by the example of faith and “godly living” of Christians now sainted. The prayer also encourages us to follow them as they followed our Lord Jesus. In a terrific little devotional book titled Celebrating the Saints, Rev. William Weedon reminds us of the value of remembering and even celebrating the saints who have gone before us.
As we have noted in our Sunday morning Bible class, the Lutheran Reformation was not a radical reformation. The Lutheran Reformers did not throw the baby out with the bath water (even though many 20th Century Lutherans were guilty of this). There were, of course, abuses with respect to saints that had crept into the church which needed to be condemned and corrected. For example, as Weedon notes, “Nowhere … do the Sacred Scriptures provide a command to invoke the saints, a promise about this being pleasing to God, or an example of anyone ever invoking the saints.” 1 The idea that we need anyone else as a mediator or intercessor other than our Lord Jesus is absolutely preposterous and utterly blasphemous! “Still, despite the abuses, Lutheran Christians knew and confessed that there was a rightful place in the life of the congregation and of the individual Christian for the remembrance of the saints.” 2
The Lutheran Reformers gave three good reasons for retaining the celebration of Saint’s Days and All Saints’. First, it gives us the opportunity to thank God for His mercy shown to those who have gone before us in the faith. Secondly, our faith should be strengthened as we recall God's mercy and grace shown to these saints as to us. And thirdly, as we remember the saints, we are encouraged to imitate their faith and good works according to our own callings even as John reminds us “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord... that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Rev. 14:13).
There is value in remembering the faith and lives of those for whom Jesus was also “their captain in the well-fought fight.”< 3 We can find strength, courage and comfort in their lives, even as we give thanks for God's gracious working in them. I will ever remember and be encouraged by my sainted grandmother kneeling at her bedside every night for prayer, her gracious concern and care for others that was always in thanksgiving for the love she knew and received in Christ. Over the years, I have been encouraged by so many who have displayed rock solid faith in the midst of suffering.
Weedon's recent work, Celebrating the Saints, offers a devotion for each of the saints on the church calendar found in the Lutheran Service Book (pgs. xii–xiii), including Isaac, Hannah, Noah, Augustine of Hippo, Johann Sebastian Bach, St. Patrick, St. Stephen and so many more. It also offers devotion for the days and season of the Church year. This splendid devotional resource can be used for table or personal devotions in the home and I recommend it to you.
As we remember the multitude of witnesses past and present, we do so with our eyes fixed where they fixed theirs—on the Lamb of God whose blood washes away our sins. For as we remember and celebrate the stories of the saints, “we realize that we are always and only celebrating the love that shone forth from our Lord's cross.” 4
Blessed All Saints’ Day,
- William C. Weedon, Celebrating the Saints (Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 7
- Ibid., 7
- Lutheran Service Book, “For All the Saints” (Concordia Publishing House, 2006) 677, stz. 2
- William C. Weedon, Celebrating the Saints (Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 8
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.