"Look at the memorials in your church and talk about the stories behind them. In many churches, you will find windows, books, liturgical items, and more, which were given in honor of past parishioners."
Celebrating All Saints Day
On November 1st the church remembers the saints of God - all faithful servants and believers. The day honors saints who have died and of all Christian persons. All Hallows' Eve, October 31st (from which our Halloween comes); All Saints' Day; and All Souls' Day (November 2nd - the Day of the Faithful Departed), are connected and are often celebrated together.
Here are some ways that you can celebrate All Saints Day at home or in church:
1. Find a Saintly Calendar
Look at a list of saints listed by month and date. In the Episcopal Church, Holy Women, Holy Men. This volume gives a brief overview of the person's life, as well as readings appointed for the particular feast day.
2. Make a Visual Display of Saints
Once you identify saints in any period of history (including our own) who have displayed their love for God, you can display that visually. Some ideas:
- Picture display
- Parade of costumed persons showing how they help or serve
- Banners (hung or carried in procession)
3. Honor the Elders in Your Community
Many groups, especially Asian-Americans, use All Saints' Day as an opportunity to remember and respect family members who are elderly or who have lived in other generations. This might be the occasion for telling about where our families have come from and lived, what their lives were like, and what values we honor that they have passed on to us.
4. Study Your Name
Our names are symbols of who we are, and our Christian names tell who we are in our new life in Christ. Whether or not we share the name of a well-known saint, a study of our names and their meanings can help us see ourselves as particular saints of God whose lives are offered in loving service.
5. Make a Display of Names
A design of everyone's name in a congregation or family can make an interesting All Saints' Day bulletin board or Sunday bulletin cover, or other display. Photos can be made into a mobile or PowerPoint presentation to help convey our common Christian calling to be saints.
6. Create Images or Drama From Scripture
Biblical illustrations of Jesus' calling of the disciples, or Jesus' invitation for people to follow him, are excellent discussion starters. Going a step further, we might create art or drama projects about these scenes, and how we too can be followers of Christ today. Think of people in your local community whom are examples of discipleship today, especially those who offer quiet and unnoticed acts.
7. Walk Among the Departed
Visit a cemetery and read examples of how friends and loved ones have honored the dead on tombstones. Consider making rubbings from the gravestones (with appropriate permission and using the proper tools).
8. Search Your Church for Stories of Saints
Look at the memorials in your church and talk about the stories behind them. In many churches, you will find windows, books, liturgical items, and more, which were given in honor of past parishioners.
The ideas on this post are published in The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, 3rd edition 2009: Morehouse Publishing.
Sharon Ely Pearson is an editor and the Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI). She is the author/editor of several books, most recently The Episcopal Christian Educator’s Handbook and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century. When not traveling for work or pleasure, she enjoys tossing tennis balls to her year old black lab, Chobe.