Horse bites! You know those tricks where you take two knuckles and pinch them on someone’s skin or leg or arm? That is what I remember about Karl William Hanke. Yes, the first Karl Hanke, from whose line I am the 4th. I remember getting pinched by him with horse bites. He was a funny man. He had come over from Germany and my favorite memory of him was how he would greet me in his native accent, “Villiam--good German name.” Since I was born I’ve used my middle name, and he chose to call me that too. Had I been older I might have said, “Great Grandpa, you realize I have your name, right? “ Nicknames for the various Karl William Hankes are a story for another day, but today is all about thinking about Grandpa’s death and the memories I have about him: every Thanksgiving eating in Big Boy, staying in pink motels, and knowing who my great grandparents were. But then when I was between 8 and10 years old, they all passed away. Grandpa was the first to go. I remember seeing him in the casket, and for the first time experiencing death. The words spoken in my ears that day were: “He is with Jesus.’’ My dad brought us each to the casket and talked about seeing Jesus.
After that, death became a natural part of life to me; not to mention something that scripture also addressed. Soon Great Grandma Hanke, Great Grandma Favory, and Grandpa Schubkegel all died. I watched so many lives pass who have meant so many things to me and my family. They each left a legacy and something to share, and at the end they showed me what death meant and the certainty we have in Jesus.
This week at Mt. Calvary we celebrate All Saints’ Day. There is nothing special about the physical date, but there is something important about taking a moment to celebrate the saints that have come and gone before us. Now is just the time of year we set aside to celebrate it. It is a great time to reflect that while we will face death someday, we also celebrate the life we have in Jesus. The saints are celebrating that life with Jesus now, while we are living in an unique tension. That tension of being sinner as well as saint reaffirms that while we are certain of the promise of eternity with Jesus, we still face sin and the prospect of death every day.
This week we also remember the love the saints have had for us, and have shown to our world, it helps us to Love 1, to love others. The saints grew in their love for Jesus, and that inspired them to love others. That love is something we get to carry on from their example and the Love we know in Jesus. It presents us with a great opportunity to think about the people we love. The saints before us didn’t realize how much their love would impact us. The names of loved ones run through my head as I remember the blessings and beliefs they have taught me. This week, while we do not specifically mention the B1 disciple of Jesus, we do want to consider how the Love 1 person theme is projected through the message of All Saints’ Day. This continuing emphasis impacts us as we have seen God’s love in others, and helps us think of the ways we can share God’s love with people today.