There is a peculiar line toward the end of the Apostle’s Creed, which says, “I believe in…the communion of saints.” From ancient times, the church has confessed the belief that church consists of people both living and dead who participate in the ongoing mission of the church. In the ancient church, the dead were considered “the church triumphant.” The living saints were called “the church militant.”
This time of year is both a celebration of the Reformation and All Saints Day. Ironically, The Reformation marks the great divide in the church, while All Saints Day celebrates our unity with all the saints both living and dead.
Halloween is actually a secularized version of the Christian celebration of “All Hallows Eve”, which was the church’s remembrance of all the saints who have died. We who are alive are still in "communion" with those who have died.
Hebrews describes this beautiful “communion” with these words: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heave. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
When I was a child, all the “saints” I knew were living. With the passage of years I have lost grandparents, friends, church members and acquaintances who have joined “the church triumphant.” Eventually, it will reach a tipping point where I will know more saints who have died than those who are alive.
It is a great comfort to me that those in the Lord who have died still love, encourage and help me. They are the “great cloud of witnesses” that surround the living. I believe in “the communion of saints..”