The Festival of All Saints

The headlines have been blaring out economic forecasts about the future based on decisions made now and in the recent past. As with the pandemic it is not so much that we are in the same boat but the same storm because the economic forecasts relating to higher interest rates or predictions of slowing economies affect us in different ways. To complicate things, the analogy of the storm isn’t perfect because much of our economic weather is generated by people – and so welcome to politics and power and other things.

We go the doctor for a medical check-up and some tests are run and we get the results – personal to us but framed against what is regarded as ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’. We assess accordingly and this determines (or doesn’t!) our subsequent behaviour.

Perhaps career guidance when at school can be seen similarly – forecasting a life that contributes well to the individual and society – personal good and the common good. I’m not sure how such guidance works in detail these days if it be true that many of the jobs our youth will do have not yet been invented! Perhaps career guidance is more about the skill acquisition rather than a specific occupation but the logic remains the same – forecasting for the future to have as good a one as possible.

I imagine most of us have heard ‘red sky at night, shepherds’ delight; red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning’. Whether you plan your activities or what you wear accordingly is another matter but the idea of looking around at the environmental signs for clues for the future is common. Jesus mentioned this very thing (Matthew 16:2,3) in his challenge to the scribes and the Pharisees. We can learn to ‘read’ the world in many ways, make forecasts, and then seek the best outcome but we can seem so small in the ‘big scheme of things’ that life can seem precarious at best and meaningless at worst.

Such a thought can come to us at any time but perhaps more so when holding babies and wondering what the world will be like for them or when attending a funeral – and each of them toll a bell about our future as we focus on the deceased and those who mourn. Such sentiments and thoughts are found in all societies of all times – they are part of our human condition. And there are answers everywhere – forecasts galore – about how to live well.

Christians, in their first centuries, faced ostracism because they refused to follow the forecasts that the world was used to in how to behave in all sorts of ways, how to weather the storms. In fact the world took offence at them and, in time, became threatened by them. Of course, in this world, the ultimate threat or deterrent is death. But what do you do with people for whom death is no longer the ultimate threat, with people who live with a perspective that this world is the only world we have but that our living goes beyond this world? That was the dynamic the world faced with Jesus and then his followers! What is the forecast if someone breaks the power of death, someone busts out of the grave – and you can’t put him back into the tomb?

Welcome to worship – to each Divine Service – where people meet the risen Lord of the Church who comes to serve. And we also have an annual observance called All Saints Day where the big perspective is remembered – we can be so focused on the weather, the economy, and our health – that with Jesus everything is about life and living (even death and dying)! Such a forecast can definitely shape how we get through each day – with hope, confidence, and joy!