My Aunt Helen’s funeral is today, All Saints Day. For generations Christians around the world have today celebrated the lives of those in whom God’s grace has been especially made manifest. My Aunt Helen was one of those. During her birth, she suffered a prolapsed umbilical cord with temporary oxygen deprivation, leaving her with life-long complications. Because of this, she was never able to clearly articulate many words and could not write, read, or any of the other things for which my Grandparents had no doubted hoped and wished. She was not, however, denied the ability to laugh, love, and enjoy life.
It is perhaps fitting that she would be buried on All Saints, one of the four days recommended for Christian baptism. In many Christian churches, those about to be baptized affirm the Apostle’s Creed. Especially relevant for today is the creed’s emphasis on “the communion of saints” (communio sanctorum). Christians have long understood this to mean those believers, living and dead, who are united in their faith in Christ. In death Helen has gained all that was denied her on earth and of course much more. Today she joins a great “cloud of witnesses” who proclaim God’s great and glorious name, for ever praising Him and saying “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.” My church, like many others, has set these words from Isaiah (known as the sanctus) to music. It’s my favorite part of the entire service. This Sunday, as usual, I’ll be singing the sanctus before communion, but this time I’ll get to singing it along with my Aunt.