From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
It was, as always, a beautiful experience on Sunday to walk through the All Souls' Chapel and see the photos on the Día de los Muertos ofrenda.
We rearranged the setup in the chapel a little this year, enabling the ofrenda to now be set up directly across from the altar at which we celebrate Holy Eucharist on Wednesdays and other smaller feast days. It now stands directly below the Columbarium as well. The devotional focus of the All Souls' Chapel is remembering all faithful departed, and seeing the pictures of those who are on your hearts during this season is particularly moving.
Though secular celebrations of All Hallows' Tide begin on Thursday, October 31, with the delight and fun of Halloween, that secular observance does indeed draw from the ancient traditions of the church.
The sources of this feast likely come from an earlier festival of all saints, one that fell in the month of May and had been celebrated since the 7th century. In the 8th century, it is thought that the festival was moved to November first in the British Isles as a replacement for the Celtic feast of Samhain which occurred at the same time of the year. Samhain marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark of winter—about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It was seen as a liminal time, when the boundaries between our own world and the world of the dead were made thin. In the 9th century, the movement of the feast of all saints to the first of November became the official practice in the empire.
The celebrations of Allhallowtide begin on the evening of October 31st (similar to the practices surrounding Christmas Eve and the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve). The goal of the vigil would have been prayer and preparation for the feast to come, drawing our minds toward all those departed and often eating a meal and celebrating in their honor. All Saints’ Day on November 1st is then the great Feast of the Church Triumphant—those great saints who lived exemplary lives and now exist fully in the presence of God. November 2nd would then focus not on the great saints of the church, but instead on All Faithful Departed—all those who have died in the love of God, who we still love and for whom we still pray.
At St. John's, we will celebrate All Saints' Day this Friday, November 1, at 6:00pm with a special Solemn Eucharist, complete with chanting, choir, and incense. We'll chant the Litany of Saints as the ministers walk in procession around the church, letting the incense fill our worship space as a symbol of our prayers which join with those who have gone before.
Then, on Saturday, November 2, at 10:00am, we will have four members of St. John's confirmed at the diocesan convention Eucharist at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids. If you are able, please join us as we celebrate with Kathy Harris, Sue Lumley, Tia Rymal, and Deb West.
That evening, at 6:00pm, we'll gather in the chancel for our Requiem Eucharist for All Souls' Day. It is at that liturgy that we will pray for those in our parish who died in the past year, along with all of those whose names you submitted to the Parish Office. This is always a particularly moving liturgy and I hope you'll be able to join us.
Finally, our celebrations will conclude on All Saints Sunday, November 3. At the 8:30am and 10am liturgies, we'll officially celebrate and welcome Kathy, Sue, Tia, and Deb as confirmed and received members of The Episcopal Church.
We are blessed to be a part of a community of faith like St. John's, one where we support one another in our mission to be faithful servants of Christ in the world. And we are blessed to be surrounded by a great cloud of saints—particularly those members of this parish over the past one hundred and fifty years—who have worked to build this place into a place of worship, prayer, and service for all people.
P.S. – Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend. Remember to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night before bedtime!
Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 3, 2019 online here.
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