Armadale UCA
1st November 2020

Communion of Saints – Elise Ritter

`Here and now. Now and then…`

All Saints’ Day

Rev Fiona Winn

Welcome and Grace

`Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

TIS 351 `Lift high the cross`
https://youtu.be/GbcBXYP4AlE

Refrain
Lift high the cross
The love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world
Adore His sacred name.

Come Christians follow this triumphant sign.
The hosts of God in unity combine
Refrain:

Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow The seal of Him who died.

Refrain:

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised draw the world to Thee.

Refrain:

So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory.

Refrain:

Prayer
Faithful God, faithful to Your Word, faithful to Your people,
faithful to all You have made,
Creator, Saviour, Comforter,
on this day of remembering and celebrating,
we draw near to worship You,
to bring our love and thanks and praise,
to bring ourselves, to ask for help, to pray for the world.
By Your Word You created so much beauty.
In the suffering of Christ, You have reconciled all things.
Through the Spirit, You walk beside us in our everyday lives..
In these testing times, You strengthen and help us.
And so with saints and angels we join to offer this hymn of praise:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God`s people on earth. Lord God heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father; receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
As we remember the faithful, we confess our faithlessness.
Lord have mercy…
As we remember their courage and commitment,
we confess our complicity with the values of the world.
Christ have mercy…
As we remember their struggle and suffering,
we confess our love of comfort and the easy life. Lord have mercy…
We confess our sin and ask for Your forgiveness…
`See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!` 1 John 3: 1
We hear Christ`s words of grace to each of us `Your sins are forgiven` Thanks be to God. Amen

Readings:

Revelation 7: 9-17 – The Multitude from Every Nation
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
    and worship him day and night within his temple,
    and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
    the sun will not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat;
17 for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Psalm 34

Praise for Deliverance from Trouble
Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech,
so that he drove him out, and he went away.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord
,
and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.
O fear the Lord, you his holy ones,
for those who fear him have no want.
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger,
but those who seek the 
Lord lack no good thing.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Matthew 5: 1-12 – The Beatitudes

5 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 

Song – `All Saints` Day` by Carrie Newcomer
https://youtu.be/GQefafxbS9E

All around us and within us
And yet it’s only at times we notice
As real as rain, and soft as stardust
We know deep down, what nobody told us.

Can’t you feel it ever closer
We breathe it in and we then we exhale
We touch both sides and now eternal
Standing closer to the veil

Now is just a, moving image
Not a ribbon, a start and end
There is a bird, a hidden singer
That calls and listens, and calls again

Can’t you feel it ever closer
We breathe it in and we then we exhale
We touch both sides and now eternal
Standing closer to the veil

Centred down and moving outward
Sometimes almost too sweet to bear
There are endless ways to reach home
Just keep walking and I’ll meet you there

Can’t you feel it ever closer
We breathe it in and we then we exhale
We touch both sides and now eternal
Standing closer to the veil

There’s a blurring of the borders
And I swear that I heard voices
But every act of simple kindness
Calls the kingdom down and all around us

Can’t you feel it ever closer
We breathe it in and we then we exhale
We touch both sides and now eternal
Standing closer to the veil
Standing closer to the veil
Standing closer to the veil

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Carrie Newcomer – All Saints’ Day lyrics © Carrie Newcomer Music

Reflection and Q and A

 All Saints` Day 2020

All Saints` Day is a day for remembering and celebrating faithful people who have loved, served, some of whom have died for, Christ. Beyond number, they are the named and unnamed, some known in history, others known only to God.
What makes a saint?
Miracles? Miraculous events?
How could we ever lay claim to any such `superpower`?
It seems utterly beyond us – utterly beyond me at least!
`I could never do that, be that, be like them…`
What are `they` like?
All different: different languages, tribes; different countries; different cultures; different experiences.
C.S. Lewis writes `How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different the saints`.
They are not like anybody. They are like themselves – truly, wholly themselves, insofar as they reflect and are become like the One they follow and trust, the One for whom they live and for whom they would die.
So, saints are, at heart, ordinary folk – folk like you and me – people who have died in the faith; people who are still living the faith; people you may know. Saints are people who, despite all they have to endure, persevere in the faith – through it all, no matter what.
Would anyone look at you and me and think of us as `saints`?
Why not?
Saints are not better than anyone else. Some of them have been, are, disagreeable and difficult. But they are Christians utterly committed to the way of Jesus, the way of the Beatitudes, however poorly and feebly they may have lived them out.
Perhaps they struggled. Perhaps they were persecuted. Perhaps they failed. Perhaps their story has been lost – or was never known.
But they kept going. They endured. They persevered.
The story of the saints is the story of faith and hope and love in the face of suffering and struggle.
There are those today who because of their faith in Jesus Christ suffer privations, torture, death. Their faith is lived out in genuine fear for their lives. (See the attached article included in the email regarding the persecution of Christians in the Philippines: Priests, bishops murdered during Duterte’s drug war bJames Massola -updated October 29, 2020)
We may not be asked to be heroes, to die heroically – of course, none of us knows what the future may hold – but we are called to live heroically in the middle of life just as it is, just where we are: in the middle of a global pandemic, in the middle of tribalism and division, in increasing frailty and dependence, in the middle of questions about life, death and everything in between.
Some of us, I know, are already living heroically…
As the Bible reminds us `we have all these great people around us as an example` (Hebrews 12:1) And when it gets tough we are to we are to `Think about Jesus.` (Hebrews 12: 3)
To live as a saint of the church is to live as Jesus lived, to live out what Jesus commanded – nothing more, nothing less. That`s all we can do. It is not necessarily or essentially about succeeding. It is about trying and trying again, about keeping on keeping on, enduring, persevering – whatever circumstances do to us. Nothing more. Nothing less. And that truly is miraculous.
As encouragement, savour these verses from Hebrews chapter 12 and listen to the song `Nothing more. Nothing less`
Go saints!
We Also Should Follow Jesus’ Example
12 We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. Think about Jesus. He patiently endured the angry insults that sinful people were shouting at him. Think about him so that you won’t get discouraged and stop trying.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (ESV)

NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS (Coleman) https://johncoleman.bandcamp.com/album/shade-tree-place
The ancient prayer, points us today
To say “give us this day – our daily bread”
Nothing more – nothing less
Simplicity – simplicity
Nothing more – nothing less
Simplicity – simplicity

The ancient faith, points us today
To make a path, a peaceful way
Nothing more – nothing less
Walk in peace – walk in peace
Nothing more – nothing less
Walk in peace – walk in peace

The ancient way, points us today
To speak the truth, to live the truth
Nothing more – nothing less
Integrity – integrity
Nothing more – nothing less
Integrity – integrity

The ancient way, points us today
To build a house, of unity
Nothing more, nothing less
Community, community
Nothing more, nothing less
Community – community

The ancient flame, points us today
To see the Light, through every face
Nothing more, nothing less
Equality, equality
Nothing more, nothing less
Equality – equality; equality – equality

from Shade Tree Place, released September 30, 2016
all rights reserved

Joys and concerns

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

TIS 455 `For all the saints`
https://youtu.be/mOC0Mb–FWY
https://youtu.be/1OaBgaMcOvM

1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

3. For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

4. O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

5. For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

6. For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

7. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

8. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

9. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

10. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

11. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
William Walsham Howe

Blessing

May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
surround and sustain you as you walk on in the faith of Christ,
so that, here and now, now and then, we may be found worthy.
Amen