By Alan Stout
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
I love the hymn For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest. Here is a wonderful thought… The overwhelming majority of saints who now rest are unremembered in their specific labors. No memorials, no days of feasting, no honor over their hidden graves. They are all forgotten, yet we are here blessing the name of Jesus. It would take a great deal of effort to trace your current position in the body of Christ back to one of the Giants of the Faith. Calvin, Knox or Spurgeon might be in your spiritual family tree, but you would probably lose the branches in the forest after going back a generation or two. In spite of that the gates of Hell shake when we sing our Alleluias! What a marvel!
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.
Today is All Saints’ Day in the western Church and we remember those forgotten even by the Church. We remember them by joining them in looking to the Light in darkness drear and singing His exploits as Rock and Fortress and in the singing of what He has done we find that He is still doing it. All of this with the sure knowledge that we too will be part of the great forgotten and glory fills the earth at our Alleluias!
Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
By and large the way you are forgotten, and the way the Kingdom grows, is to decrease in stature. Decrease by giving yourself away and that joyfully. This was John’s mission in life:
28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:28-30 ESV)
John’s decrease led him to the executioner’s blade; his head served as a grand subtlety for a tiny king no one honors today. This was a noble fight, bold and true. His joy over the Son facilitated his giving, enhanced it to the point of sacrifice. Joyful giving is a mark of a soldier whose Captain is Christ. John’s joy was full.
In The Breathing Method, a short story by Stephen King, a woman sacrifices a great deal to give birth to a child. She loses her reputation, family and financial position. In the midst of delivery her head was severed from her body, yet she survives for a half hour or so, sees her son, smiles and mouths, “thank you” to the her physician (I told you it was a Stephen King story). I imagine John smiling up from his decreased position on the platter, joyfully mouthing, “Alleluia!” to his host!
O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
The gifts you give are more likely to be so feeble so as to be utterly forgotten here on earth. However, if you mix joy with your giving I promise that they will be remembered in glory, and your face will shine with the radiance of the Son of God. John said his joy came from hearing the Bridegroom and giving himself away in His name. Joy in Jesus means that a cup of cool water for the thirsty is glorious. Though the one receiving it may forget you completely his thanksgiving over that cup reaches to Heaven. Even you will probably forget the clothes you give to the mission, but Jesus remembers as the poor are dressed. Your unseen visit to a prison done in Jesus name and with joy is Alleluia, praise to God.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Beloved, labor in joy! Give yourself away with a smile and a song to the Father, Son and Spirit.
Today is All Saints’ Day, may you be forgotten by all men and remembered by the Church and her Bridegroom. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alan Stout is the Associate Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl. <>