Sunday, Nov. 1, is All Saints Day, “a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations,” writes by Joe Iovino in an article on UMC.org. “It is not nearly as well known as the day before, All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, better known as Halloween; but is far more important in the life of the church.”
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, celebrated All Saints Day, describing it in his journal, on Nov. 1, 1767, as “a festival I truly love.” All Saints Day is a time to express thanks for the lives of courageous, devoted leaders and servants who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church. Learn more from Iovino’s article.
November 1 and 8 (and the days in-between) are also days to remember thousands of Christians around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord. International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a time set apart worldwide for us to honor and pray for them.
Bill Mefford, Director of Civil & Human Rights at the UMC’s General Board of Church & Society, writes about this important observance.
“If we know of persecution and fail to speak out, what does that say about who we are? On Nov. 1 and 8, we can remember our sisters and brothers in Christ who are being persecuted….Please remember to pray for God to stop persecution and allow people of all faiths the freedom to worship and evangelize. Remembering our persecuted sisters and brothers is always important and necessary, but the United Methodist General Conference, our denomination’s highest policy-setting body, has made this a priority. It has repeatedly passed a resolution that states:
Since The United Methodist Church opposes injustice, intolerance, and bigotry and believes in the power of prayer, we encourage United Methodist congregations to observe in November an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It is through our earnest prayers that we grow in our sense of unity with Christians around the world, as well as with all members of religious groups who endure persecution.
There are ample resources available to enhance your observance. If your congregation participates in one of these important days of remembrance and prayer, Bill Mefford wants to know about it and so do we. Please let us know (at firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know.
Moreover, Bishop Peggy Johnson offers a heartfelt prayer for All Saints Day that also resonates with International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. She invites churches to use this prayer in their observances.
An All Saints Prayer
We thank you Lord, for the lives of those who gave their lives to you. The world does not see them as wise. But you know that the wisdom of the world is foolishness.
Thank you for those who freely offered their lives to you. They offered their family, fortune and fame. They expended their lives as a gift in Jesus name.
We thank you Lord for your prophets and for their words of truth and love. Thank you for those who fought for justice for all. They stood up for human need even in the face of persecution and suffering. They teach us that in the end justice prevails.
Thank you for saints remembered, for those we never knew, and for your church and all its members.
Use our lives for transformation that we might bless the poor and lift the burden of oppression in this world. Help us be the saints you seek for today, serving you, saving lives and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
— Bishop Peggy A. Johnson