Led by: Mrs Angela Storer
ALL SAINTS DAY
We are the saints God has called…
God has called us to worship…
We will worship in the light of Jesus…
in a world that rushes to grab what doesn’t last…
Lord, help us to stand still for a moment
and hold out our hands for your lasting riches, freely given.
If we look closely at the picture on the screen, we can see an image of the saints whom the church celebrates on All Saints’ Day. This image shows the heart of what a saint actually is, in a similar way as the way in which The Beatitudes spell out what blessedness is.
See how Jesus is at the focal point in the centre, with the saints radiating out from him. The darkness surrounding Jesus indicates something hidden about him, and the saints arrayed around himin their countless shining colours, reflect his luminosity and provide the church with a sort of kaleidoscope through which it (and we) can see the splendour and magnificence from a thousand different angles.
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
1Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,2 and he began to teach them.
3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.’
The Beatitudes is a regular reading for this day – All Saints Day – where we remember saints of long ago who did heroic things in the name of God. I don’t know about you, but I don’t aspire to follow in the footsteps of those larger than life, admirable fellows, for nearly all of them ended up as martyrs! Their lives ended too soon and their deaths often came about by savage, horrible means. They are the heroes of the Christian faith, and I’m in awe of their many accomplishments and unfailing courage in facing adversity, yet to most of us their lives may seem irrelevant because their heroic accomplishments are far too high for ordinary people like us attain to, and to stand with any of them would be unimaginable.
But, let’s just pause and consider for a minute. Might we be of no less of value to God than these heroes of yesteryear? We’re all children of God by virtue of baptism and in God’s eyes, all of equal status. I doubt that we ordinary people leading ordinary lives will ever have our names included on the calendar of saints in the Christian Church, but as it says in the book Lesser Feasts and Fasts: The Church is the communion of Saints, that is, a people made holy through their mutual participation in the mystery of Christ. To call something holy is to say that it’s God’s, and that means that it’s set apart for God’s purposes in the world, it’s filled with God’s spirit and it’s cherished by God. So to say that we are holy as saints then, means that we belong to God – our lives are part of God’s purpose, we are empowered by his Spirit, and he loves us.
And baptism – the sacrament by which we are named as Christ’s own and by which we become members of the communion of saints – is the common thread that knits us together in one communion and fellowship.
Sainthood isn’t something that’s earned by an elite few who live lives of extraordinary piety or miraculous virtue with superhuman sacrifice. Rather, we are all saints from the day of baptism (still sinners – weak and human – but saints) because we’ve been touched by God.
Saints of days past answered God’s call in extraordinary measure, opening themselves completely to the gift of his grace with the support of their Christian community. But what about the saints of today? We too need to be connected to the stories of our whole community, past and present, in order to understand how we can effectively minister, serve and be God’s saints in the world today. We pray for grace, to follow God’s saints by our actions, but we needn’t measure ourselves by the sacrifices of those heroic saints of long past. I’m sure that we can all name people who’ve significantly encouraged and strengthened us in our personal journeys with God – not famous people, but ordinary ones who’ve loved and inspired us to become more fully human in the sight of God. These are the saints we meet every day… saints of God too, but people like just us, yet also part of the great communion of saints.
We are called to be people through whom the light of love shines. We are called to discover in others the image of God. In baptism, and as Christians, we receive the light of Christ to be saints according to God’s purpose, and by the grace of God that is truly possible.
But in our lives – and in the lives of all saints past and present – one of the most important qualities is attitude. I’d like to share a quotation from American preacher Charles Swindoll: The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say I do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
This quotation is so full of insight and wisdom.
We frequently read and hear platitudes about attitudes, and most of those are true. We hear the question: ‘Is the glass half empty or half full?’ The answer reveals the fundamental attitude of he who answers! We know that attitude is more powerful than education, as we can be highly educated but have a questionable attitude and not solve the problem in front of us. Attitude is a more powerful force than money, as we can have all the money in the world but cannot buy happiness inside our souls. Some of the economically poorest people have the greatest attitudes. Attitude is also more powerful than circumstances, for it’s not what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you that’s important. Over time, tragedies can make us bitter or better. Attitude is more important than the failures we’ve all experienced. We’ve all heard stories of famous people who’ve failed in their lives (like Abraham Lincoln who lost a number of elections before winning the US Presidency)… Attitude is more important than successes, as success can go to our heads causing us to lose our drive. Attitude is more important than appearance. We all know beautiful people but that doesn’t make much difference in the long run… as time takes its toll on physical beauty anyway. And attitude is more powerful than giftedness, skill or talent. We can buy the most talented team of players of any sport, but the winning team usually has talent plus a winning, dedicated attitude. Many people are convinced that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% what you do with what happens to you. Attitude is crucial.
And it’s with this in mind that we approach the ‘BE-attitudes’ of Jesus. Put a hyphen in the religious word, beatitudes, and we get BE-attitudes – attitudes of being – attitudes of existence – attitudes for life and living. Jesus talked to his disciples about the fundamental attitudes of life, about the kind of people that God wanted his disciples to be. He didn’t talk about money, health, job security and job possibility or living one’s life through one’s children or grandchildren. Rather what Jesus did talk about was the BE-attitudes – the fundamental attitudes of being… the basic attitudes of life and living – of which there are nine.
First, Jesus said: Happy are the poor in spirit. What does that mean? It means that they know their need of God, as often poor people know their need of God more than rich people. Some of the unhappiest (spiritually poor) people in the world think they don’t need God, instead always on the go… too busy for God in their lives… so busy that they don’t have time to know their need of God. It’s a BE-attitude. Be happy.
Second, Jesus said: Happy or joyful are those who mourn. Hmm, strange… But to feel the pain of others is to be truly a human being… to BE. It is a BE-attitude.
Third, Jesus said: Happy are those who are humble and meek. It’s not good to always be seeking glory and trying to get noticed. It’s a great challenge to be genuinely humble… do good for others… stay in the background. Jesus said it clearly – a BE-attitude. Be humble.
Fourth, Jesus said: Happy and joyful are those who hunger and thirst for what is right. This maybe makes one think of a person with a real craving, perhaps for water or food. But there are also people who crave to do what’s right, like Martin Luther King Jr and his craving for justice and righteousness. He was willing to die for his craving… his passion… his intense struggle for justice. An incredible man, and that’s the kind of thing we do… only if the Spirit is living inside of us… only if our hearts hunger and thirst… crave to do what’s good, right and just… Jesus said… Happy are those who have this attitude of BE-ing, this BE-attitude for life and living.
Fifth, Jesus said: Happy or joyful are those who are merciful and kind. Happy are those who are kind to other people who keep on making mistakes. This BE-attitude immediately should make us think of Jesus himself. Not once in the Bible do we ever hear Jesus condemning anybody for making a mistake. Not once does he ever condemn a person for doing wrong. He simply forgives that person and asks them to live in wholeness. Jesus said it clearly – a BE‑attitude. Be merciful and kind.
Sixth, Jesus said: Happy or joyful are the pure in heart. A fundamental BE‑attitude, an attitude of being and of existence – for life and living. Happy are those who have clean hearts. A poem by Longfellow entitled The Psalm of Life goes like this:
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life
Be not like dumb, driven cattle,
Be a hero in your strife.
Lives of great people remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time.
Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
How many people can you relate to who’ve left footprints on the sands of time, and their footprints on your lives? Lives of great people remind us, we can make our lives sublime… a BE‑attitude. Be pure in heart.
Seventh, Jesus continued: Blessed and happy are the peacemakers. In the middle of a conflict, peacemakers will always take enormous risks and be hated by somebody on the other side. Peacemakers are found internationally in political situations and also in homes, marriages and the workplace. Jesus said that there’s an inner joy to peacemakers, who take risks so that we can live in peace.
And finally the last two: Happy and joyful are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven and Blessed are those who are reviled for God. Here we think of people who are currently being persecuted for their faith, doing what’s right and following their beliefs. Across the world Christians are being scorned and derided and sometimes dying for their faith and Jesus makes the bizarre statement that these people have an inner joy – not happiness dependent on happy circumstances, but an inner joy in their dedication to Jesus and values that entail.
So we’ve briefly looked at nine qualities that make for joy in one’s heart. The BE‑attitudes – the basic attitudes of being; the basic attitudes for existence; the core attitudes for living and life. Often and usually, all nine qualities are found in the same person as they belong together.
Jesus said: Happiness has nothing to do with wealth, education, health, job, children, success, failure. Inner joy has to do with the BE-attitudes… the attitudes of being… the basic attitudes for life and living.
And in the context of All Saints’ Day, saints both ancient and modern, heroic and every day will have lived with these nine qualities – the BE-attitudes – in their hearts as they walked with Jesus, leaving (in the words of Longfellow) their footprints in the sands of time and shining out with love like beacons to a needy world. I pray that we can follow their example and strive to live with the BE‑attitudes in our hearts and the light of love shining out from us today and every day.
SONG WORDS FOR REFLECTIVE TIME
To take us into our prayer time, I’d like us to reflect as we listen to I believe sung by Aled Jones – a beautiful song with a strong message for today.
I believe (Aled Jones)
One day I’ll hear the laugh of children
in a world where war has been banned.
One day I’ll see, men of all colours
sharing words of love and devotion.
Stand up and feel, the Holy Spirit;
find the power of your faith.
Open your heart to those who need you
in the name of love and devotion.
Yes, I believe.
I believe in the people of all nations,
to join and to care for love.
I believe in a world where light will guide us,
and giving our love we’ll make heaven on earth.
Yes, I believe.
I believe in the people of all nations
To join and to care for love
I believe in a world…
And giving our love we’ll make heaven on earth.
PRAYERS OF CONCERN
Father in Heaven, hear us when we pray:
When we pray for those who have been profoundly affected by this virus. Those families mourning loved ones, often unable to hold the hands of those who are nearing death.
People who have recovered from the disease and find themselves in the grip of Long Covid, severely limiting their daily lives. For the lonely and isolated.
For those, because of this pandemic, who do not have enough money to pay for food and warmth, for those about to lose their homes, because they have no income.
In this time of hardship for many, help us to share what we have with grace.
Give courage to our government that they make the correct decisions, when no one can be sure what the correct decision is.
We remember today the tragedy of the family, drowned, whilst striving for a better life, free of conflict.
Help us Lord to embrace all forms of worship, physical and electronic and in doing so keep our churches and fellowship alive.
We remember today those who have gone before and all of those in our Remembrance Book:
Alexander McPhee Ernest Frank Merrick
Jessie Winton Thomas Pallister
Jennifer Buckle Joan Clarkin
Elsie Marston Mallett Albert Bright
William Caldwell William Johnstone Garven
Dorothy Joan Jackson Dorothy Lowdon
George Albert Winton Captain Jack Young
Kenneth Hooper Angela Greenwood Lopez
Dorothy June Paul Mavis Doreen Brown
Lord in your mercy hear our prayers.
St Teresa of Avila’s Prayer
Christ has no body now on earth but yours;
yours are the only hands with which he can do his work,
yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world,
yours are the only eyes through which his compassion
can shine out upon a troubled world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Music for egress
CCL No. 213535 / One Licence A-632495