When the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC was designed, there was a controversy over which design should be selected. A wonderful young Asian-American artist submitted an unusual design — a partially buried, long wall of polished black granite. Most who saw the proposal did not like it at first. It did not look like a typical memorial. There were no heroic figures of warriors. There were no representative generals. All that was there were a long list of all those who had fallen in the American forces in Vietnam.
Thousands of names were listed, not in alphabetical order, for that would be like listing them in the phone book, but rather in the order of the date in which they fell.
If you have ever visited the Vietnam Memorial, you know that it has a stunning effect. The most memorable effects are those rows and rows of names. So many names. And there is an additional effect. As we stand at the wall, looking at the names, suddenly we realize that we see our won face reflected in the polished black granite. We stand there, looking at ourselves, our own reflection, our own face, with all the names of the dead.
In a way, this is what All Saints’ is like. We remember the saints, all of them, not just the more notable martyrs, but your Sunday school teachers when you were a child, your parents, the preacher, all those who have preceded you in this church and in the faith. And yet, as we remember their names, we see ourselves reflected in them. We join the procession down through the ages. We take our places along with them. We focus on the saints and we see our own contemporary faces reflected in their names.