All Saints Day (Nov. 1) is a day in which the Church remembers the saints who have preceded us, and looks forward to the resurrection. So we each talked about someone we had loved and lost, and lit a candle in their honour.
It’s important to stop and remember those who have gone before us, consider the hope we have in Christ that we will see them again, and think about the legacy we are leaving. Our candle lighting ceremony was such a simple act, but meant so much.
The physicist Stephen Hawkings …was quoted earlier this year by The Guardian as saying: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” The implication is that believing in life after death is a form of psychological denial by those too weak to face the truth of the finality of death. Hawkings, whose own bravery is inspiring, is far from the only one to suggest the idea of life after death is an illusion we have invented to avoid the pain of knowing that we will someday be no more.
As those of us who are Christian prepare for All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) or All Saints’ Sunday (Nov. 6), I want to propose that choosing to believe in life after death may actually be an act of courage.
If Easter is when Christianity celebrates the resurrection of Christ, All Saints’ is when Christianity celebrates the resurrection of the rest of us. The focus of Easter is the victory of Jesus over death and the grave. The focus of All Saints’ is resurrection and life eternal for the rest of us. I think it can be an act of courage to believe in eternal life and to strive to live lives consistent with this belief. It takes courage to live as though our lives matter eternally — even if they seem to us very ordinary, even frustrating and disappointing. It takes courage to believe that our lives matter beyond this lifetime, or even the earthly memory of it, when so much of what we do seems trivial and even pointless. It takes courage to choose to do the good and just thing in terms of eternity, rather than what is easiest, even when it will cost us something in the short-term and nobody will much notice or care anyway.
Rev. Dean Snyder of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC., writing at Huffington Post.