Sun 1/11/20

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1


A Sermon for All Saints’ Day
Revelation 7: 9 – end; Matthew 5: 1 – 11


It is said that when George Fredrick Handel wrote his Hallelujah Chorus, he saw heaven open.  If that is true, Handel is in good company.   Around 1700 years earlier, John, a disciple of Jesus, also saw heaven open while he was imprisoned for his faith on the island of Patmos.  

St John wrote the Book of Revelation so we could share his experience, reading and hearing a wonderful, description of the life of heaven, where one day, we will be loved and cared for by God as we worship in his presence for ever.

That is a wonderfully reassuring and appropriate thought for All Saints’ Day.  But to hear St John’s wonderful description and simply to be assured of a future reward is not enough.  

Our celebration today is far richer than that.  To understand more, we must look at the reading from Matthew; surely one of the best-known teachings of Jesus.  

Here we have Jesus’ first recorded address to the crowds who came to see the miracles.  Like all good leaders, Jesus sets out his manifesto.  This is no ordinary manifesto of short-term goals. It sets out the spiritual qualities required by those of wish to follow Jesus. Qualities which will enable Jesus’ followers to live on earth until they receive their reward in heaven.  

This is no quick fix political solution.  It is a long-term hope which our reading from Revelation reassures will be rewarded.  In the meantime, we do not need to wait for the life of heaven to be numbered among the saints.  Amazingly, if we follow Jesus and live his way now, God numbers us with the saints’ while we are still on earth.

We are a long way from the super-holy individuals recognized as saints by the church and preserved in stained glass.  So, who exactly are the saints?

The answer is simple, but profound.  The saints are people like you and me.  Ordinary people who seek to follow Jesus.  We are the people who will, one day share the life of heaven described in Revelation.  

In the meantime, we are the saints of the Beatitudes.  People who have embraced the Kingdom of God and wholeheartedly entered into it, knowing that one day we will receive our reward.  Until then, we are poor in spirit, hungry and thirsty for the day when God’s purpose will be fulfilled.  Until then, we are taunted or even persecuted for our faith, yet seeking to make peace with our persecutors.  We grieve for a world which has turned its back on God and seek to show mercy to those whose actions offend us, but grieve God more.

We live in God’s topsy-turvy, upside-down kingdom, aware of our weakness; conscious of the dangers, confident that we will be kept safe in Christ until we see God face to face.

With that thought, we arrive at the final reason for celebrating All Saints’ Day.  None of this would be possible without Jesus.  We can only endure the demands of the upside-down Kingdom of God because Jesus has authority to reverse the values of the world and bring the saints safely to heaven.  

Far from being a simple celebration of our sainthood, All Saints’ Day is a celebration of the work of Jesus revealed in the reading from Revelation.  The work of which we are the Harvest  

As followers of Jesus, we live in a world of hunger, thirst and tears; we also know that Jesus has saved us from this world.  Such an amazing rescue can only be achieved through the blood of Jesus.  No-one who believes in Jesus will be refused entry into the Kingdom of God.  Everyone who enters the Kingdom of God can enter the eternal fellowship with God glimpsed in John’s revelation.  

Faced with such a reward, there can be only one response.  The one we read in John’s description of heaven.  A response of unreserved worship and adoration around the throne of God and of adoration to the Lamb.  It is a response which we make only faintly in our worship on earth.  One day we will make it fully in heaven.

“Salvation belongs to God … and to the Lamb!”  Truly we have something to celebrate, not just this All Saints’ Day, but for all eternity.  There can be no greater encouragement as we continue our journey as saints on earth.  

After all, the Saints are ordinary people, just like us, who have nothing to offer Jesus except poverty of spirit and the ability of endure.  Ordinary people who live their lives for Christ, with all the challenges that entails, until the day they receive their reward in heaven.

S Anne Lawson
29/10/2020



Prayers or 1 November 2020


The Collect for All Saints’ Day


God of holiness,

your glory is proclaimed in every age;

as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,

inspire us to follow their example

with boldness and joy;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Post-Communion Prayer


God, the source of all holiness

and giver al all good things:

may we who have shared at this table

as strangers and pilgrims here on earth

be welcomed with all your saints

to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Prayers of Intercession


Knowing our dependence on God in all things, let us pray to him now.


Glorious God, as we celebrate the lives

of those Church members who have shone

with the brightness of your love,

we offer you ourselves and our lives

in fresh commitment

and conscious awareness of our need for you

in these parishes and as individual Christians.

Just as I am:

I come.


Powerful God, may your kingdom of love and peace

be established in this world and grow.

We pray for both the influential and the ignored,

both the popular and the disliked,

both the ambitious and the vulnerable.

Teach us all your ways and your values.

Just as I am:

I come.



Loving God, we call to mind

our families and friends, neighbours and colleagues,

thanking you for all the loving care and forgiveness,

and asking your light to shine

in all areas of hurt and misunderstanding.

Just as I am, I come.


Healing God, we bring to you

those whose lives are darkened by pain,

fear or weariness.

Come to our aid;

help us to bear what must be carried

and take from us all resentment and bitterness,

replacing it with the abundance of peace.

Just as I am

I come.


Eternal God, we thank you for all the saints –

those recognised by the Church

and those known only to a few, and to you.

We praise you for their example

and rejoice that they live in your heaven

with every tear wiped away.

In your mercy may all who have died in your friendship

know your lasting peace.

Just as I am

I come.


Gracious God, you can take us as we are

and transform us by your life in us.

Clear our lives of all that is not of you,

so that we let your goodness

shine through the colours of our personalities

and gifts you have given us.


Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Hymns

For all the saints who from their labours rest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y-yvL2P_FY&t=15s

Blest are the pure in heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA6InSrcm1M

It is a thing most wonderful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78DAvd2TXXs

God be in my head https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCik9Us_K2A