Bethany Lutheran – Naperville, Illinois has a “This is Your Grandfathers’ Church” All Saints Celebration, by Pr. Rossow

Blessed Reformation and All Saints Days to all our readers!

At the parish I serve we like to have as many actual feasts on the feast days of the church year as possible.  This year Pastor Stephen Schumacher, my co-worker in Christ at  Bethany Lutheran Church and School – Naperville, Illinois put together an All Saints feast and came up with the clever theme: “This is Your Grandfathers’ Church.” After our late service tomorrow we are having a potluck where everyone will be making dishes that have been passed down through the years from their grandfathers and grandmothers. We will also be having some traditional activities like dart-ball, a cake walk, and  pin the bell on the steeple.

There are two reasons we have named this feast “This is Your Grandfather’s Church.” First, it is because on All Saints Day we remember the communion of saints  who have gone before us to heaven. We are reminded of this  each Sunday when we sing God’s praises with angels, archangels, and all the communion of saints (our grandfathers and grandmothers who have preceded us to glory). Quite fittingly I will need to leave the feast a little early to officiate the funeral of dear saint of Bethany who was just called to heaven on Thursday of this past week.

Besides the tie in to All Saints, the second reason for  naming the celebration “This is Your Grandfathers’ Church” is to in some small way stem the tide of President Kieschnick and his men who are trying to undo the traditional, liturgical, doctrine-based church of our grandfathers. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this week that our little All Saints feast in Naperville has  already had an impact beyond our little corner of the communion of saints here in the western suburbs of Chicago.

I heard from one of our members that we had some grandparents from a few states away in attendance at the Divine Service last Sunday. These grandparents were very encouraged to hear that we were celebrating our grandfathers’ church.  They told their son and daughter-in-law after church that some LCMS bigwigs were in their neck of the woods recently and were trying to talk them and a neighboring congregation into planting a new church in between them. The synod officials were proud to announce, in these very words, “that this new start would not be like your grandfathers’ church” and that made them a little uneasy. They were happy to see that in such a progressive, wealthy  and happening place like Naperville, which is populated mostly by young professionals, that we would be celebrating our grandfathers’ church and seeking to preserve its traditions, liturgy and doctrine.

Think about your grandfathers and their grandfathers tomorrow when you sing praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with all the communion of saints in heaven and then do your part to pass on to the next generation what you have received from Christ (I Corinthians 11).

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