I expected a normal time of worship. The banner was carried in, signifying the saints of the church that passed to glory this past year.
During the service, there were many tears, the gentleman beside me, the couple in front of me. Me, choking tears. The couple who had lost a son. A sensitive member gave a box of tissues to this couple as they returned from the communion altar.
We sang For All the Saints, “For all the saints who from their labors rest, who to the world their stead-fast faith confessed, your name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia! Alleluia!” During a prayer, we were encouraged to say out loud the names of family/friends who had passed since last year. My husband said aloud a name. I was so overcome with emotion that I was unable to utter a single name.
We were reminded of the great cloud of witnesses that would be joining us at the communion table, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,’ (Hebrews 12:1, NRSV)
The saints, gone to glory this year, or years past, helped design and cultivate the path of my personal road to Jesus. I am indebted to them for the path they set before me and I am thankful for their eternal witness, though my heart aches for the loss of ones held dear.