Rev. Mark Katrick Toussaint Sunday

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Hidden on the shelf in my office in a row of Bibles is a Roman Catholic Bible that my parents gave me for my confirmation. In that same Bible are what we call holy cards for the funerals of family and friends.

To this day, when I read their scriptures and prayers, I feel close to them. It’s almost like they’ve come down from the sky, just to say hello and see how I’m doing. My response is usually: “It’s good, it’s good, with my soul, with my soul!” It is because they are all watching over me with a marvelous view from the place that Jesus has prepared for them!

This is the time of year when the church I am fortunate enough to serve and countless others celebrate All Saints’ Day. It is usually held on the first Sunday in November to remember all of those who have returned home to be with Jesus since the last celebration of All Saints.

In St. John’s, we read their names during service, have a moment of silence, and ring the bells. In our fellowship room, we write their names on small clouds and hang them from the ceiling. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us reject all that hinders and the sin that becomes tangled up so easily. And let us run with perseverance the course set out for us (Hebrews 12: 1).

In this sacred space, partly cloudy weather is always a good forecast, as it lets their lights pass. One church I attended on my sabbatical, Trinity UCC in Wooster, Ohio, called this celebration of life, Totenfest or Ewigkeitssonntag (Sunday of Eternity). Family and friends stood up and gave tender and moving testimonies to their missing loved ones and showed video clips. It was a deeply moving service and made me feel like opening my Roman Catholic Bible again.

No matter what church / denomination you worship, or what faith you profess, this is an especially important time to honor loved ones who have died and will live forever. Unfortunately, due to Covid, there will be more names than usual that will be read in the pulpit this year, and more bells will be ringing for each.

Perhaps the best way to honor them all, as well as those who mourn their losses, is to do all we can in prayer to prevent the spread of this disease, by implementing “a new commandment to love one another.” others as we have been loved ”. It is my hope and my prayer that we all come together so that next year’s All Saints Sunday has far fewer names to read and bells to ring.

Reverend Mark Katrick is at St John’s UCC.


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