All Saints' Day

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All Saints' Day

All Saints’ Day is an occasion to celebrate the communion of the saints and call attention to the profound gifts God gives us through others in the body of Christ. All Saints’ Day worship can involve reflection on and thanksgiving for the gifts of all who have given witness to Christ’s love and demonstrated the fruits of the Spirit. It also calls for recognition of Christ’s continued work in the church through imperfect people who are nevertheless “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7).

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Worship Ideas for All Saints' Day

When: November 1, often observed on the nearest Sunday
Liturgical Color: White
Associated Objects/Symbols: The names of those who have died in the previous year

Ideas for All Saints' Day from Scripture


All Saints' Day is an opportunity to teach the difference between imputed righteousness and earned righteousness. We may, by our actions, be proven righteous. This is an earned righteousness and it is what we most often think of when we hear the word "saint." However, imputed righteousness is the doctrine that we are considered righteous because of Jesus Christ's death on the cross. We stand in the shadow, as it were, of Jesus' righteousness, and that righteousness is credited to us. All Christians—all who believe that Jesus' death pays the penalty of their sin—receive the righteousness of Christ and are, therefore, saints.

Children of God

Grief and the Comfort of Eternal Life

Although God promises the gift of eternal life to those who believe in him, the psalms remind us that we are also to tell the truth about grief and loss. Maybe a parent or grandparent has died in the past year. Maybe a death that happened long ago forever altered the course of a person's life. Maybe one’s grief is silent as from miscarriage. All Saints' Sunday is a beautiful time to invite people to light candles to remember, to tell the truth about loss, and to do all of that within the supportive community of the church and under the reign of our King, who once grieved at the tomb of a friend.

The Body of Christ

It has always been the plan of God to work through people to accomplish God's purpose. The stories of God's work teach us about who God is, about what we are to value as members of Christ's kingdom, and about how, by the Spirit's power, we too are able to contribute to God's good work in the world.

Reflections on All Saints' Day

The standard prayer of thanksgiving in the communion liturgy references the communion of saints: "Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and all of creation to proclaim the glory of your name." This is worth preaching on: that the worship that takes place in our sanctuaries is the earthly harmony of a heavenly melody. Many widows and widowers in the church express a longing to sing in worship with their loved one again. When we remember that the veil between heaven and earth is thinnest in our worship, we provide theological truth and pastoral comfort.

Martin Luther’s claim that we are all sinners and saints at the same time is seen in this day. On All Saints' Day, we can remember the saints who have gone before us in the great cloud of witnesses and the saints with whom we continue to work today. This can be an appropriate occasion to hold the grief about the loss of saints that have died in the past year and to remember their faithfulness.

Affirmations of Faith for All Saints' Day

Our World Belongs to God, stanzas 34–36, 39

In our world,
where many journey alone,
nameless in the bustling crowd,
Satan and his evil forces
seek whom they may scatter and isolate;
but God, by his gracious choosing in Christ,
gathers a new community—
those who by God’s gift
put their trust in Christ.
In the new community all are welcome:
the homeless come home,
the broken find healing,
the sinner makes a new start,
the despised are esteemed,
the least are honored,
and the last are first.
Here the Spirit guides
and grace abounds.

The church is the fellowship of those
who confess Jesus as Lord.
She is the bride of Christ,
his chosen partner,
loved by Jesus and loving him:
delighting in his presence,
seeking him in prayer—
silent before the mystery of his love.

Our new life in Christ is celebrated
and nourished in the fellowship of congregations,
where we praise God's name,
hear the Word proclaimed,
learn God’s ways,
onfess our sins,
offer our prayers and gifts,
and celebrate the sacraments.

The church is a gathering
of forgiven sinners called to be holy.
Saved by the patient grace of God,
we deal patiently with others
and together confess our need
for grace and forgiveness.
Restored in Christ’s presence,
shaped by his life,
this new community lives out
the ongoing story of God’s reconciling love,
announces the new creation,
and works for a world of justice and peace.

Belgic Confession, Article 27

The Holy Catholic Church
We believe and confess
one single catholic or universal church—
a holy congregation and gathering
of true Christian believers,
awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ,
being washed by his blood,
and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This church has existed from the beginning of the world
and will last until the end,
as appears from the fact
that Christ is eternal King
who cannot be without subjects.

And this holy church is preserved by God
against the rage of the whole world,
even though for a time
it may appear very small to human eyes—
as though it were snuffed out.

For example,
during the very dangerous time of Ahab
the Lord preserved for himself seven thousand
who did not bend their knees to Baal.
And so this holy church
is not confined,
or limited to a certain place or certain people.
But it is spread and dispersed
throughout the entire world,
though still joined and united
in heart and will,
in one and the same Spirit,
by the power of faith.

Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 55

What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and joyfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.

Westminster Confession, Chapter XXVI, Sections 1–3

All saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as to conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.

Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

This communion which the saints have with Christ, doth not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of the Godhead, or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either of which to affirm, is impious and blasphemous. Nor doth their communion one with another as saints, take away or infringe the title or property which each man hath in his goods and possessions.

Our Song of Hope, stanzas 15–17

Christ elects the church
to proclaim the Word and celebrate the sacraments,
to worship God’s name,
and to live as true disciples.
He creates a community
to be a place of prayer,
to provide rest for the weary,
and to lead people to share in service.

The Holy Spirit sends the church
to call sinners to repentance,
to proclaim the good news
that Jesus is personal Savior and Lord.
The Spirit sends it out in ministry
to preach good news to the poor,
righteousness to the nations,
and peace among all people.

The Holy Spirit builds one church,
united in one Lord and one hope,
with one ministry around one table.
The Spirit calls all believers in Jesus
to respond in worship together,
to accept all the gifts from the Spirit,
to learn from each other’s traditions,
to make unity visible on earth.


Introduction from The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 753.