Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
November 6, 2011
Sunday a day with many different meanings
Sunday is different from all the other days of the week. For those who work the other six days Sunday is often a day to sleep in. For others Sunday is another work day, not a day of rest.
Over the years people have explained their absence from church by saying, “I had to work.” I responded by saying, “I understand. I work every Sunday too.”
A few of my friends combine church and sleep. They would not miss church but when I begin preaching they trust me so much they fall asleep, confident that I can handle everything while they tap a nap. I understand this too. My dad usually fell asleep in church no matter how loud the singing.
The wives of these sleeping men have a special role to play. They are adept at punching their dear husbands in the side so discreetly that no one is aware of it – until the old man jumps, and sometimes snorts. Men who sleep in church usually have sore ribs by the time the preacher pronounces the benediction.
Amos Brewton was like my dad. He never missed church – and never failed to sleep through my finest sermons. The church was not air conditioned back then so on a hot summer night the windows and doors of the church were usually left open.
One night our dog, hearing my voice, came strolling in the door and down the aisle toward me. His name was Snoozy, a beautiful black Dachshund. No one saw Snoozy but me. Not wanting him to interrupt worship I stopped in mid-sentence and said sternly, “Snoozy, go home!”
Immediately Tom English, who was sitting beside his friend Amos, punched Amos in the ribs and said, “Wake up, Amos; the preacher just told you to go home!” Amos roused momentarily but not for long; his chin on his chest, he was sleeping like a baby again.
I reckon it was in those days that I developed the habit of preaching long sermons. I hated to disturb the sleeping saints by pronouncing the benediction.
Today is an unusual Sunday. For millions of Christians it is known as “All Saints Sunday.” Annually on this day many churches pause to remember those members who died during the past year.
This observance on a Sunday grew out of what was originally called “All Saints Day,” a celebration on the first day of November that has been a Christian tradition for many centuries. “Halloween” is a corruption of this holy day. Centuries ago the church began observing a “Hallows Mass” to remember their fellow Christians who had died. “Hallows” means “saints.” Halloween got its name from the phrase “Hallows Eve” since October 31st was the evening before Hallows Mass.
On this day when we remember the departed, some may wonder why we call the dead “saints.” The reason is that “saints” is the biblical word for Christians. Martin Luther once said, “The Holy Scriptures call Christians saints and the people of God. To forget that we are saints is to forget Christ and to forget our baptism.”
This morning in our time of worship we will call the names of those in our church family who in death have moved from the Church Militant into the Church Triumphant. We will speak their names with affection as we recall the days when they walked among us as saints of Christ.
Sunday is a good day for sleeping – at home or in church – and a good day to remember the departed dead and give thanks for what they meant to us. + + +