A Day for the Church to Celebrate
By Dianne Matthews
- Many churches celebrate All Saints' Day on November 1 to praise God for all his saints, known and unknown. The holiday's origins probably go back to fourth-century commemorations of martyrs who had died in groups or whose names were unknown.
These celebrations eventually come to include all saints, not just martyrs. Pope Gregory IV ordered the first churchwide observance of All Saints' Day in A.D. 837.
During the Reformation, Protestant churches reinterpreted the feast of All Saints' as a celebration of the unity of the church, reflecting the Biblical meaning of saints as "all believers." All Saints' Day is celebrated on November 1 in Western churches. Eastern churches observe the day on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
Even though we understand the meaning of the word saint, we rarely apply that label to ourselves or fellow Christians. We may explain an imperfection by saying, "I'm certainly no saint." More often, we make that comment about someone else.
All saints are imperfect people who share the same faith in Jesus Christ and the same power of God's Holy Spirit living in them.
It's possible to become so zealous for reaching the unsaved that we forget we have a special duty to other saints. Jesus says the world will know we are His followers by the love we have for one another (John 13:35).
Paul commended the members of the Colossian church for their "faith in Christ Jesus" and their "love for all of God's people" (Colossians 1:4). We are instructed to to do good to everyone, but especially to other believers (Galatians 6:10).
When we treat one another this way, we're sharing the gospel in a powerful way. We do need to be working to bring the lost to Christ, but we shouldn't neglect our relationships with fellow saints. Within the family of God, every day is rightfully All Saints' Day.
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