Summary: On All Saints Day, we join in a family celebration made possible by our Triune God. All Saints Day is not a day of mourning the dead, but a day of celebrating the life we have in Christ, and a chance to look ahead at the joys before us!
Some kids were outside at recess playing on the school playground, as kids do. And, as kids do, they began teasing one another. But the thing is, kids, you know, when they’re teasing, don’t always have a good understanding of how far is too far. And so, these kids start to pick on the girl in class who was adopted. “You don’t know your real parents,” one of them shouted at her. “You’re just adopted.” Then another one chimed in, “You don’t even have real parents!” The girl began to walk away. And just when you would’ve imagined she’d burst into tears, she turned around and said, “Oh, yeah? Well, I feel bad for you. ‘Cause, when you were born, your parents felt like they HAD to keep you. My adoptive Mom and Dad actually want me, and I know it! They chose me to be in their family.” And that shut the other kids up!
As we come to another All Saints Day Festival, we again hear the words of John’s first letter: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…” Not just “people” of God; not “followers” of God; and not simply servants of God—though these are all true. It’s far more intimate than that. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called CHILDREN of God, and so we are…” On this All Saints Day, we celebrate the beautiful reality that we are children of God—brought into this family through adoption. Through no doing of our own, we are children of God. And, like that little girl, each of us can say of our adoption, “God the Father actually wanted ME in His family, and I know it! He chose me to be in His family, forever.”
God the Father wanted you and me in His family so much, that He sent His only Son to make it happen. Because, like “Little Orphan Annie” caught in the clutches of Miss Hannigan, we were caught in the clutches of sin, death and the devil, unable to free ourselves. But, God the Son made our adoption into this family possible. Jesus took on our human flesh, joining and experiencing our “hard-knock life,” dying in our place on the cross, and rising again. Jesus paid the price for our adoption, and in our baptism, that adoption is made complete. Because in those waters, we leave behind the “old orphan in us.” God the Father now looks on us and sees the perfect work and life of His Son. He calls you by name, calls you a saint, calls you His child. “SEE what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we [of all people] should be called children of God; and so we are…”
Now, God the Holy Spirit works to keep us in this family. The Spirit works to keep us in this family through the Word proclaimed to us, stirring up our hearts to believe in Jesus in even the most difficult circumstances. The Spirit works to keep us in the family through the means of grace, bringing us forgiveness and equipping us for sanctified living. But on All Saints Day we also celebrate the Spirit’s work through the fellowship of believers, as we rejoice with those who rejoice; as we mourn with those who mourn; as we display the love of God in Christ toward one another. In the context of fellowship on All Saints Day, we see that we’re children of God remembering the good ol’ days.
I’m sure you’ve probably gone to a family reunion before. Unfortunately, these days, most family reunions happen only at funerals. And you hear family saying to one another—“Boy, it’s too bad we don’t get together more often, when everyone’s alive. After all, we’re family…well, see you at the next funeral!” Family reunions are sort of fading out; not quite as big as they once were. But when you’ve got a good family reunion—and I mean a really GOOD family reunion—it’s quite an ordeal!
We’re talking matching t-shirts, a smorgasbord of food with coveted secret family recipes; old traditions, games, songs that have been in the family for years. And these things go on for days at a time. After all, everyone is finally together once more. Family members come from far and wide to get reacquainted with relatives they haven’t seen or heard from in years. There’s a deep, yet strange bond you possess with these people (some whom you reluctantly call “family”). There are some relatives you’ve never met; some you’ve only heard stories about; others you get too many updates about on Facebook or through your great aunt Ethel. But there is a bond that unites you—no matter the distance, no matter how long it’s been, no matter if you’ve never even met. You’re family.