We are traveling this week between “All Saints Day,” November 1, to “All Saints Sunday” this year on November 7. We are still in the Pentecost season and we are still using Mark as our lens for understanding the life of Jesus and the impact of his life on ours. Yesterday we pondered how difficult it is to “declutter” memories. Some things we just can’t forget. And in some way the Bible is a collection of memories of the saints who have gone before us and who have impacted our lives with their stories.
Today at a Bible study I attended, a friend brought a picture she had laminated and keeps on her refrigerator of her mother’s last moments with her father. She is leaning over the hospital bed, her hands on either side of his face communicating with him. He, a doctor by profession, understood all the machines he was hooked to, and knew he was passing. In the picture, he is gazing in love at his wife and life’s partner and showing no fear of the coming moments. That is an iconic picture for my friend as it captures a memory, a moment that she does not ever want to forget.
We look at pictures and remember truths about who we are and how others have impacted our lives. Pictures capture spiritual truth also. We see the “saint” in context. The wrinkles, the hospital gowns, and the irregularities fade as the picture captures a truth. Not all pictures are like that but many are receptors of our memories of saints, people who have blessed us by their walk.
This makes me think of one of the most iconic pictures from the Bible painted by Leonardo de Vinci, “the Last Supper.” It was painted around 1496 so represents de Vinci’s interpretation of Mark 14:17-26.. Jesus’ 12 disciples are gathered around him. These are 12 ordinary people who changed their world. They are not educated as we think today. They are flawed as we are today. Judas betrays as some do today. Peter denies as we often do today. But Jesus trusted these men to carry the story of the nature of God who incarnated, worked with ordinary people like us, died and resurrected so that “All Saints Day” speaks of death that opens into eternal life. We do not know what eternity will look like but we have this painting that pictures faithfulness into eternity. Thank you, Lord.