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  • Jason Gaskin

The beautiful thing about Storied Church is that we come from eclectic church backgrounds. Some of us come from backgrounds where there is was a high emphasis on the lectionary (the worldwide churches weekly appointed church readings) and the yearly church calendar. While some of us come from a more thematic background with less emphasis on Church high holy days.

We want to take a moment to talk through why a deep appreciation of the Christian yearly calendar matters and that we might find a fondness for it.

It begins the first week of Advent (beginning of December/late November) and culminates with Christ the King Sunday (late November). We are most familiar with the Christmas and Easter seasons.

Each season and holy days have immense value. One of those high holy days is All Saints, which is November 1st. It is the day after Halloween or All Hallows Eve. Most churches celebrate the Sunday after Halloween.

Most of us are familiar with Halloween, which falls the day before All Saints.

Most High Holy church days were pagan celebrations prior to being a Christian celebration. Christmas for example was the celebration of the god of the sun. It was celebrated during the winter solstice. And Easter was the celebration of the goddess of fertility, which was celebrated in the spring.

Many of these holidays had some connection with the seasons.

When Christianity went from a persecuted religion to an empire religion around the 4th century the church began to “replace” pagan high holy days with Christian ones.

Sorry, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.

Halloween has a similar story. It comes from a Celtic tradition of Samain. It was a mystical, pagan celebration that ushered in the coming season of darkness as the days got shorter and colder. And it recognized the coming death of the winter when deaths were more prevalent during the colder seasons.

Like Christmas and Easter, All Saints found its home during the pagan season of Samain. It began in the 7th century as a celebration of the lives of early church martyrs. Then later became a celebration of those in our own families and for the ancestors that have gone before us.

So each year the church celebrates those who have passed on from this life to the next.

Various places and cultures celebrate it differently. People in Mexico celebrate the day after All Saints called All Souls day. They make altars to the dead. Celebrating their lives by bringing them their favorite food, drinks, and toys for children.

Typically we name people who have died on All Saints Sunday in our praying of The Great Thanksgiving liturgy because

we believe the meal for which we taste of God’s goodness is the meal that they feast.

In the American tradition, we struggle with mysticism. But we do believe in some way, unexplained, our loved ones who have died… are with us… in a mystical and mysterious way.

And so this Sunday we will carry on this tradition and practice in celebrating the lives that have passed before us and celebrate their place at God’s abundant table.

I hope you will join us virtually on Facebook Live this Sunday @ 10:30a. Here is what we want you to have at the ready to participate.
  1. Bread and juice for communion

  2. A candle and a lighter to light during our online gathering.

  • Jason Gaskin

writer: Jason is the pastor of Storied Church and feels a tad bit vulnerable about sharing this personal story about his family.

Ten years ago my Aunt Trisha committed suicide. You try to use logic to map out what happened and how someone you loved so dearly could do something to themselves.

Trying to understand suicide is like putting puzzle pieces from different puzzles together.

She was my favorite aunt. She was funny, quirky, silly. I looked forward to her visits growing up.

Ten years ago my aunt entered a very dark season in her life. She was probably wading in darkness for a while before then. I remember a few years prior to her death going with my mom to visit her and her stove and fridge looked unused and broken for years. Normal things that normal people would get fixed-left unfixed.

In this darkness, she sought out different medicines prescribed by a range of doctors that spiraled her into deeper darkness. And she attempted to take her life. She had written a long letter about how her work had taken money from her over a period of years and that she just couldn't go on. So she attempted to take her life but someone found her before she was able.

She promised never to try again. My 80-year-old grandmother at the time stayed with her and tried to keep watch over her for weeks. It exhausted my grandmother. And one day my grandmother, exhausted, went to lay down for a nap only to wake up to my aunt gone. She had left. She was missing.

For the next few days, my aunt's picture flashed on the news. I remember thinking of all the countless people missing that flashed on the television screen and I just moved on with my day like it was nothing. And yet now this new reality was that person… isn’t just another person… that was my aunt. The one I grew up riding my bike around the neighborhood filled with excitement at her arrival.

We hoped she just ran away.

A few days later search and rescue people had scoured the woods and came across her body.

She had taken her life.

And so here I am ten years later. And I still can’t put the pieces together. The truth is that you never get over it. Or that their memory doesn’t evade you.

A few months ago I went to visit my grandmother. The last time I visited was 10 years ago right after my Aunt committed suicide. Her house was frozen in time. Pictures of my aunt were in every room.

Most people who commit/think about suicide feel hopeless… and/or think that the world will be a better place without them. Both of those things are not true. My aunt was just a few months from retiring. Retiring! And her family thinks about her often and misses her so much.

I know for my own family members have struggled with depression, drugs, and anxiety. There has also been an aversion/demonization of psychotherapy. I remember a few years ago I told a family member that I was in therapy and they got very concerned about what was going on in my life. Why would I be in counseling if something wasn’t seriously wrong? I think for my family we have waited until things get really bad to seek help. So I seek counseling for my well being and I also knowing the struggles of my own family.

I don't have THE answer to suicide but I know for me and others prevention and community are key. Here are ways that are so good for our well being.

  • Seek out counseling regardless of your situation. And if life is going well…this is a great time to start counseling. This is so vital. Our own barriers to counseling negatively affect those around us. Leading to people in our families suffering by themselves. If you need help let us (Storied Church) know whether you think counseling will be great well-being care or if you are at the end of your rope and you need someone right now. We will help connect you.

  • Check-in with people in your network… and ask “How are you?” Let people know you are thinking about them.

  • Follow-up… so often we think a non-response personally but sometimes reaching out a second time shows how much you care.

  • Storied Church

I haven’t heard anybody say lately that they “love” their job. Everyone (even if pre-pandemic loved what they did) is now stressed to the max and wallowing in busyness. 

I feel it too. I love what I do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. But I have felt that weight on me and the struggle to stay passionate and engaged in what I do. 

The unfortunate gift of the industrial revolution is the celebration of being “busy”. 

Our jobs became our passion and the place we expended most of our energy.

Like then and now let's confess we love telling people we are “busy” because for some of us that give us some sense of value and purpose in our lives. It makes us feel somewhat significant and important when others feel that they have to fight for a little bit of our time. 

In the background of all these are real relationships, partners, kids, parents, friends, neighbors. 

We put such an emphasis on what we do that the investment of our time into real, deep relationships falls by the wayside. 

A few months ago I was watching a Netflix documentary that showed people are the unhappiest in their 30-60s. You do the math those are the prime working years. The years when most of us have kids. 

But they are also years where many of us struggle to maintain real community and friendship. We become somewhat nomadic. Not really dwelling in one place for long. 

As a pastor, I have done quite a few funerals. Sometimes family members will stand up to say a few words about their loved one. These words typically revolve around “he was good dad, my best friend, loyal neighbor… there when you needed him.” 

I am struck… that I don’t hear anything about the “career”. About the things that kept this person busy the 30-40 years of their life. 

I don’t even know what they did because no one ever talks about it. 

When we tell people that we are “so busy” it isn’t to say at the end of the day that work doesn’t matter. Because it does. 

But in terms of the fullness of our lives what matters at the end of the day is our family, our community, our friendships. 

Maybe this is a note to those who are walking the same path as I am. Realizing like me the deep need for community and deep friendship. 

At the end of the day to make space for community… doesn’t mean that I am less busy… but it does mean I have to work to put myself at the table. What stands between me and who I want to be will always be work. Nothing is given to us. 

Friendship and community aren’t built by showing up once or twice or by a click of a button (thanks Facebook). Friendships are built upon consistency, work, and being there for one another. Showing up when it matters most. 

Because at the end of the day… what matters… well… that when life was chaotic… or during the 2020 pandemic… “they showed up.”


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