All Saints: crowning glory

The Daily Office readings for All Saints include a passage from the apocryphal book of Esdras which I recognized as one that had caught my imagination when I was writing about the heirloom dresses I was given by my mother when we found one another:

In the beginning, or very near to it, after God asked Adam and Eve who on earth had told them they were naked, and after seeing the flimsy job they did with their fig-leaf coverings, God sewed clothes for them. What it cost God to skin and clean the creatures whose hides formed the hiding place for shame is not described, although God had only just created them and clothed their own backs with fur. How hard it must have been to choose the raw material for Adam’s first coat; yet that is what God did, before they walked out of the Garden and away from the only Father they had ever known. One day, we are promised, when the children of God finally return from their long exile, like Adam and Eve, we will receive new garments, and the Son of God himself will finish clothing us: 

I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my lord?” He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God. Now they are being crowned, and receive palms.” (2 Esd. 2:42-45)[i]

The Esdras passage continues:

Then I said to the angel, ‘Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?’ He answered and said to me, ‘He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.’ So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord. (2 Esd. 2:46-47)

It is the Son of God who crowns the saints with immortality. It is the Son of Love who tenderly sloughs away the stained cloth of sin and wraps them in lavish life; the Child of God who is Christ our Mother, in whom we are one family with all the saints and sinners who sing around the throne of God.

[i] Hughes, Rosalind C., A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books), Kindle Edition, 68-69

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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