For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Once again it is the day of the year when I look back, reflect on those around me that have joined the Church Triumphant and have been an inspiration to me. Probably the best known hymn for All Saints Day is based on the poetry of William W. How. It is commonly sung to Ralph Vaughan Williams tune Sine Nomine (Latin for “without a name”), a term sometimes used for a new hymn tune for no previous words. It also strikes me as appropriate for the association with celebrating all the saints, some of whose names we may never know.
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
In the list of those who went on to their eternal reward one of my friends may be known to some of you. I worked closely with Ruling Elder Margy Wentz for a number of years at the synod level where she served for an extended period as the stated clerk and for a while doubled up and served as the executive as well. We have sometimes been on the same side of the table and sometimes on opposite sides of the table, but always at the table and I deeply respected her faith, sincerity and faithfulness. For as much as a polity wonk as I am, Margy had me beat by a mile and sometimes in discussing synod business she would say that I was the ardor to her order. She is one of the few people who can say that of me. I will miss her.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
In addition, I have lost several other friends and models this past year. For the following saints I give thanks for their witness and faithfulness:
- David – whose wife Beth was my last entry a year ago. They were partners in ministry and an example to us all as they grew old together.
- Pat and Jack – another couple whose faithfulness in looking after each other, and the church’s gardens, and many of the other details around the church, were an inspiration. They also had a long history of helping out in civic organizations here in town.
- Beth – who lived to see more than a century and was a fixture in the community throughout that time. An example that Christians get out there and make things happen for the greater good.
- Horace – a member of the Greatest Generation who saw and practiced the active linkage of his faith with community involvement.
- Hi – Someone who did so many things quietly and with great love. He was a mentor to many, a tremendous example of faithfulness in marriage for better or for worse, and for many years the calm and knowledgeable voice hosting our church’s radio broadcasts each Sunday morning worship.
- Wayne – another hard worker around the church with a quiet faith and a big heart.
- Helen – who for many years faithfully attended worship, sitting across the aisle from my family, and even in her decline these past few years was regularly there in spite of the effort required to put on her Sunday best and the help she required to get her in her seat each week.
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
For all these saints we give thanks to God for God’s influence in their lives and I thank and remember them for what they have done and for the inspiration and witness they have been to me. Well done good and faithful servants. May you enter into your eternal reward.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: