Today we celebrate the heavenly rest of the saints—all of the saints. We celebrate rest because we all pass through life pursued by beasts, although they’re usually more like Sara Teasdale’s ordinary “wolves along the road” than Daniel’s apocalyptic allegories. Rest here comes only in fleeting moments, the occasional “evening of content” that opens our eyes as it were to the innumerable company in the world to come, leading us to sing God’s praise in the congregation of the faithful.  But most of life does not give us that rest, and we must accept such moments as down-payments for our future rest.
It is right for us to rejoice in those foretastes, but, as Luke’s Jesus says, those who are laughing now may mourn and weep later. Jesus seems to have enjoyed the conviviality of a good meal with friends, so he’s not so much opposing the pleasures of good company as reminding us that not everyone has it. Those who are rich in friends can easily neglect the poverty of loneliness all around them; the full who do not deal the bread of friendship to the hungry will, Jesus suggests, will find themselves hungry in the end. If we close our hearts to others here, where will we have room to receive friendship in the next world? Being able to pretend that loneliness does not exist is a privilege of few, and we all live with the obligation to tend to the lonelinesses that can be found in any neighborhood.
We usually think of martyrs as those who have died for their faith, like the courageous Anti-Nephi-Lehies, but there have certainly also been martyrs for loneliness. The scriptures assure us that the martyrs of faith have gone on to a glorious rest, but the martyrs of loneliness call us to bring as much of that rest down to earth as we can by opening our hearts and homes, refusing the damnation of the closed door. Jesus stands and knocks, and everyone else who is despised and rejected knocks with him. Today, on All Saints’ Day, let us answer his call by answering theirs.
All Saints’ Day
The Collect: Most gracious God, who created us all to be sisters and brothers: grant that we may be no longer the creators of strife and discord, but that in the unity of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we may grow in charity for one another until we on earth might join with all the saints in heaven to sing the song of our redemption, at long last one people as you are one God. Amen.
For music, I’ve chosen the “In paradisum” from Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem, sung here by the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus under the direction of Robert Shaw:
In paradisum deducant te Angeli;
in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
æternam habeas requiem.
May the angels lead you into paradise;
at your arrival may the martyrs receive you
and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the chorus of angels receive you,
and with Lazarus, once a pauper,
may you have eternal rest.
 Grace before Sleep
How can our minds and bodies be
Grateful enough that we have spent
Here in this generous room, we three,
This evening of content?
Each one of us has walked through storm
And fled the wolves along the road;
But here the hearth is wide and warm,
And for this shelter and this light,
Accept, O Lord, our thanks to-night.
—Sara Teasdale, Strange Victory (New York: Macmillan, 1933), 28.