Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart,
In my heart, in my heart.
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.
But Lord, it’s hard to be a Christian!
And why wouldn’t that be so? For it’s hard to be a person. Everyone, no matter our family of origin and upbringing, our nature and nurture, believes something. And every one of us, living in a world of every other one of us, from time to time, rubs shoulders, at times, exchanges sharp elbows with those who believe differently.
So, yes, it’s hard, speaking for myself, to be a Christian in my heart; loving unconditionally all people. Yet, this I know for the Bible tells me so.
Isaiah paints a lofty vision. A mountaintop banquet prepared for the hungry. Tears dried forevermore from cheerless eyes. This is a vision for the disenchanted, the disenfranchised. For what is another table of food and wine for the overfed or the hand of solace to those who have never wept? Yet, who among us, even with bellies full, cannot admit to spaces of the emptiness within us? Who among us, even in the most balled-fist courage in difficulty’s face, does not cry out for comfort and release? This, then, is a vision for all! A vision of salvation. From the Latin, salvus. Wholeness. The healing that comes only in the acknowledgement of brokenness. Brokenness that each of us shares with all people, for all people are broken.
Isaiah issues a clarion call and Revelation resoundingly replies with another portrayal of salvation so all-encompassing (heaven, earth, sea) that all is gathered up (mourning, crying, dying) and life is made new in a city, the gates of which are open to all people.
Isaiah and Revelation together help me see what All Saints’ Day is.
Since the 10th century, Western Christendom has set aside November 1 to honor all those through the ages who claim Christ as Lord. Yet, throughout Christianity’s history and surely in this era, there has been and is fighting and dying, crying and mourning all in the name of partisan ideologies, divisive and exclusive theologies.
So, today, I, with an inclusive eye, behold All Saints’ Day as a celebration for all who follow the Way of Jesus. All who claim love as their chiefest value. All who confess their brokenness, their inability always to love all. All who, in their brokenness, cry for salvation – not freedom from self, but freedom to be self fully, faithfully. Freedom to live, not in the absence of death, but in its very midst. For only those who can, who will claim their own wholeness – the feasting and the hungering, the laughing and the crying, the living and the dying that we each do every day – can know salvation and, thus, can dare share it with others, even those with whom we, from time to time, rub shoulders and, at times, exchange sharp elbows.
Illustration: All Saints, Albrecht Durer, 1511
 From the traditional Negro spiritual, Lord, I want to be a Christian.
 A reference to Acts 9.2, “the way” being the designation for the earliest followers of Jesus before they became known as Christians (see Acts 11.26); a designation that inferred more a way of life, a way of being than an intellectual assent or adherence to an ideology or theology.