All Saints' Day
The early church would often set aside days to commemorate the anniversary date of the death of martyrs. Throughout the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, churches started setting aside a feast (or festival) day to commemorate all martyrs. In the eighth century, November 1st was officially designated as a day to remember all saints who have gone before us. Today, many churches still recognize November 1st as All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day is also known as All Hallows, and the evening of the prior day, October 31st, is known as All Hallows Eve (or Evening). This has been truncated into “Halloween,” which has become a largely secularized observance that still plays off themes related to those who have departed.
In the Lutheran Church, we observe All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday of November. While the term “saint” has been defined in different ways, the best definition comes from the context of Scripture. In Ephesians 3:16-18, Paul states, “I pray that [the Father], out of the riches of His glory, may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” In other words, a saint is anyone who, through the power of the Spirit, has faith in Christ. Furthermore, Paul says in Colossians 1:12, “[We give] thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of Light.” Through the grace of the Father, He qualifies us as saints and offers us a share in His eternal Kingdom! On All Saints’ Day, we specifically remember those who have already gone before us in faith.