Golden light shines from within Trinity Church and lights up the windows, as seen from Trinity Churchyard on an autumn evening

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: All Saints’ Day

JOHN 11:32–44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

This Sunday the church observes All Saints’ Day, a time when we commemorate all those who died in faith. These are the ones who are now seeing the glory of God, as Jesus reminds Martha in our Gospel text. All Saints is also a day when we welcome the newest Christians into the church through the sacrament of baptism and we recommit ourselves to our faith. It is a time when the past, present, and future connect and the Baptismal Covenant calls us again to what we are to do as Christians. These are big promises, but the good news is we carry them out “with God’s help” and with one another. We are not alone in this journey. As we prepare to renew our baptismal vows, we might contemplate how we can strengthen ourselves and our fellow Christians to live out these promises, remembering that we are “born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). —Ruth Frey


During this continued pandemic time, Brian Purfield invites us to ask ourselves if “we have become so comfortable living in this dark space that we’re afraid to come out into the light and life-giving fresh air of God.”


Pádraig Ó Tuama walks us through chapter 11 of John’s Gospel and notes that even when we become bewildered, “friendship, faithfulness, accompaniment, solidarity and shared stories of life… are possible, no matter how evasive deep meanings are in the unpredictable circumstances of life.”


“Jesus raises Lazarus to life” comes from a Christian community in Cameroon. The joy and wonder remind us of the experience we will know when we see our departed beloved ones face to face.


This chant from the Boston Byzantine Choir tells the story of the raising of Lazarus.


In this poem, James Bradley McCallum imagines Lazarus has created his own death and tomb and the liberation of Jesus’ invitation “to come out and walk amongst the living again.”