For all the saints who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia! Alleluia!
I went to two of the hardest funerals of my life this year. Ardyce Schmidt died in February and Brad Phillips died in September, six months apart. They were loved more than most people I will know in my life. To have two people like that die in one year brings up a lot to think about on All Saints Day.
Ardyce had battled cancer for years and it was a familiar enemy to her. She had done breast cancer walks for years but when the end finally came she was ready. There was a steady stream of loved ones at her bedside who had a chance to say their goodbyes. Brad, on the other hand, was far too young and healthy to die of brain cancer. His death came fast and furious. It was a battle between two strong enemies. But in Brad's case, the disease won. And a lot of people were angry at God.
Throughout their battles, both of these saints held tight to their faith. They inspired everyone they met.
Thou wast their rock , their fortress, and their might;Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;Thou in the darkness drear, their one true light.Alleluia! Alleluia!I sang as I walked the labyrinth and the morning clouds hung overhead but when I got to that line the sun broke through and shone as brightly as the noon hour brings a clear sky. I could only cry at God's touch on my walk. Their one true light had become mine also.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.Alleluia! Alleluia!
It's good for us to set aside a day like All Saints Day to take a little time to think of these saints--both the ones who died in the past 12 months and the ones who were important to us in the years past. Sometimes saints in our past can be inspirational to us in present circumstances. "If they can do it I guess I can, too......."
I especially thought of Ardyce's husband Ron when I saw the video someone shot at Brad's funeral. Since he was the marching band's half-time announcer the band wanted to play for him at his memorial service. At the reception they played a collection of tunes outside the church on the grass, including the school's fight song. No doubt people driving past had no idea a funeral was going on inside the church nor would anyone ever see a memorial service like this one again. But, of course, that was what make Brad so special. I thought of Ron Schmidt because he would have loved it as much as Brad. Ron had been the drum major of his high school marching band.
To make the move even more poignant, my two granddaughters who were baptised in that church and loved Brad as Godchildren are in the band so it became a double honor for them to play for him.
The death of these two guys got me to thinking what a drum major Jesus is and I could just picture Jesus leading the parade into heaven with a drum major's baton held high, stepping high, victory his, leading us all to glory.
At the very least, we are reminded of that last line in the song for today:
Because sometimes you need a trumpet blast singing your fight song loud and clear-
to give you courage
to give you direction
to remind you that you are loved
and that you can make it
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia! Alleluia!Thank you God for our drum majors.