This All Saints’ Day I could not help but think of Marilyn Eberlein, a fantastic woman we were blessed to know who just recently passed away. I regularly attended the Wednesday Bible Studies that Marilyn led earlier in my ministry at Nativity. One day she recited Psalm 121,
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
I remember that around this time last year, I lost my Aunt Penny. People would give comforting words to all of us who were mourning, reminding us that our mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, and friend was no longer suffering but was with Jesus and her loving husband, Wilbert. Saying, “Your loved one is with Christ now” can seem like a cheap way to comfort the family and remind them that their loved one is no longer sick. But these aren’t just soothing words. The truth is being expressed. This life is relatively short; until we reach God’s kin-dom, we are just passing through.
Through her selfless acts of love and Bible study, Marilyn spread the good news. She lived the gospel. Many people wanted to be in her company since she set such an inspiring example. This morning, my son and I drank apple cider out of one of her Christmas mugs, which she proudly displayed each December at Nativity during the Advent season as a symbol of her compassion for others. I could not help but ask myself, “How will I be remembered when my time comes?”
Marilyn was a prayerful woman who loved God and people, according to the many stories I’ve often heard about her. Isn’t that what we mean by “saint”? All Saints’ Day is a good time to think about all the saints we have met in our lives. M any will say the names of loved ones who have died and thank God for their lives and the times we had with them. I especially love thinking about my grandparents and others and how they affected my life. For me, they are saints. Just like Marilyn.
I will always be thankful for people like Marilyn and the amazing people who have been in my life. Saints are not only the dead, though. Every person who is part of the body of Christ, whether they are still alive or have died, is a saint. For such reason, All Saints’ Day is not a day to worship or pray to the dead. But it is a day to remember the saints who have gone to be with the Lord and to remember that our time as saints on earth will end one day. It’s also a day to think about the future, when all of God’s people will live together in God’s kin-dom.
Let’s thank the Lord on during this All Saints’ for the lives of those who lived before us, for the work they did, and for how they changed us. Let’s also thank the Lord for letting us be a part of this great community in Christ, and let’s pray for the strength to keep going in this suffering world.
“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,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of[b] the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:1-2, NRSV
Thank you for this reflection, Kelly. My beloved Aunt Helen comes to mind, a woman of intelligence and humor who loved the natural world and loved me.