Today, November 1, is the church's traditional observance of All Saints Day. Often lost in our evangelical community, this day has a rich heritage of remembering saints who have gone before us.
Charles Colson shared some great words about All Saints Day in his commentary Honoring the Witnesses:
"In case you’ve missed it before, the name Halloween is a
shortening of All Hallows’ Eve and signifies the night before All Saints’ Day.
For centuries on All Saints’ Day, the Church celebrated the lives of Christians
who went before us. And rightly so: We can learn so much from those whom the
author of Hebrews calls that great cloud of witnesses.
The tradition of remembering the Church triumphant dates
back to the time of the first Christian martyrs. When soldiers of Marcus
Aurelius Verus came to arrest Polycarp, a beloved church leader, Polycarp
greeted them kindly. According to the third-century historian Eusebius,
Polycarp “ordered a table to be laid for them immediately, invited them to eat
as much as they liked, asking in return a single hour in which he could pray.”
When Polycarp later stood in the coliseum, accused and surrounded by the jeering
crowds, the governor pressed him to recant his faith. Instead, this man, who
himself had been discipled by the Apostle John, said this: 'For 86 years, I
have been [Christ’s] servant, and He has never done me wrong: How can I
blaspheme my King who saved me?' As they were preparing to burn him alive,
Polycarp offered up prayers of faith and praise."