Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on All Saints Sunday. PLEASE REMEMBER to put your clocks/ watches BACK an hour.
Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength; they will rise up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
Hymn 740 – For all the saints (1,2,8)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of goodness and purpose,
in you we live and move and have our being.
You are the Fountain of Life, and you refresh us.
You are the Light of the world, and you show us the way.
You are the Spirit of life, and you move in us each new day.
So, we join our voices with the angels and archangels,
with the saints and disciples of every time and place,
to worship you as Creator, Healer, and Source of our hope and our joy.
Praise be to you, God most holy, ever Three and ever One, world without end.
God of goodness and mercy,
we confess that we have been indifferent to your will,
staying silent when we should have spoken up for justice.
We have heard your call to put our faith into action,
but fear holds us back.
There is work to be done in Jesus’ name,
but we often seek an easier way.
Forgive us, O God, and give us courage and commitment to serve as your saints in this time and this place, whatever the challenges may be.
Readings – Isaiah 25: 6-9
Revelation 21: 1-6
John 11: 32-44
Hymn 730 – From the falter of breath (1,4)
God of All the Saints we ask that we might be a holy church, a praying church, a giving church, a serving church. May the saints in heaven be an example for us today as we trust in God and rejoice in His salvation. We come again to drink from the spring of the water of life as your people, and thank you for your promise to be with us and to be our God. Amen
Who is your favourite saint? Some might be patriotic and like Andrew or George or Patrick. With Cop26 in mind what about Francis? There are plenty of female saints like Mary or even Joan of Arc. If you want to get local, then Cuthbert. You have plenty to choose from. In the Holy land I always enjoyed visiting a new church in a Palestinian town, which had pictures of saints running on a frieze right round the church and finishing with modern day saints in their dresses and trousers, including, wonderfully, Desmond Tutu, who was the only one not to have a halo. That is simply because he isn’t dead yet!
Today is All Saints Day, when we remember the saints who have gone before us. But what makes a saint? We tend to think it is someone who has done some extraordinary deed, slayed a dragon or two, fasted on top of a pillar for twenty years, was martyred in some brutal fashion. But are we celebrating today only the select few who somehow made it and are in this ‘Hall of Fame’ - or are we looking wider? At the many whose names are now forgotten, but who have been faithful and are part of the multitude gathered for the great feast in the Kingdom of God that we read about in Isaiah. This was a picture of God’s new future, where the tears are wiped from every eye. Our Revelation reading picks up many of the same themes.
Someone once defined the saints as ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Some have been very single-minded, some positively weird, some definitely not easy to live with! But most have been faithful people just quietly getting on living out the Kingdom values. People who had no desire to be put on a pedestal, but who somehow lead us to God.
But the New Testament is clear that the saints are not just those who have gone before us in the faith, but also those sitting round about us in the here and now. Paul had at times a fraught relationship with the Christians in Corinth, who seemed to be quite divisive, but he still called them the ‘saints’. Equally, all of us are saints, trying our best to be a light in our dark, often troubled world.
In the Gospels we read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the tomb. There are different people in this story. There is Mary, who in her grief at losing her brother chides Jesus, saying that if he had come sooner, Lazarus would still be alive. There is Martha her sister, famous for being so practical, but in this story, gives a tremendous confession of faith which prompts Jesus to say, I am the Resurrection and the Life. There is Lazarus, a symbol of Christ’s life-giving power. There is Jesus bringing Lazarus to life again is shown By the Gospel writers as the one who brings life in all its fullness to us now and who brings life in the hereafter. But there is someone else as well, because Jesus turns to someone in the crowd and says, ‘Unbid him and let him go’, and to me that person in the crowd is you and me. We are drawn into Christ’s life-giving work and live out the resurrection now.
At All Saints we remember and celebrate those who have gone before who are now in the nearer presence of God, but also those around us participating in God’s work of caring and loving and standing alongside the suffering and indeed with our planet. I mentioned the church in the Holy Land. On the frieze – after Desmond Tutu, there was a space. Maybe for any new saints. But I like to think it could be for you and me.
Hymn 742 – Rejoice in God’s saints (1,3,4)
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
God of all generations, past, present and future, we offer our gifts in gratitude for the inheritance of faithfulness we have received as followers of Jesus. Bless these gifts so that today’s ministries may flourish and provide an inheritance for those who come after us, as you guide them into a future only you can see.
On this Sunday marking the faithfulness of all your saints, we give you thanks for people in our lives and across the ages who have shown us your loving kindness through their witness to Christ in so many different situations.
Inspire us by their examples and show us how we, too, can live out our faith in the midst of challenging times.
We thank God for knitting us into one common fellowship; for the people who have gone ahead of us in the faith and who loved us, formed our faith and served God with joy and grace.
You keep calling us to care for those in need and show hospitality to strangers in our midst.
Thank you for your persistent love which continues to comfort and challenge us all.
Open our hearts and eyes so that we can see how to offer that love to others
in the midst of challenging times.
You bring new life to the discouraged and those facing danger and death.
Thank you for signs of hope which break into pressures of the pandemic
and its consequences for so many,
in the midst of challenging times.
we praise you for the beauty of this world and the rhythms of nature which sustain us.
Give us courage to act on behalf of your creation where it is stressed or broken,
and nurture our commitment to act as your stewards within creation
in the midst of challenging times.
Lord in your mercy hear our prayer. Amen
Hymn 738 – Glorious things of thee are spoken (1,4)
Go on your way rejoicing,
Surrounded as you are by such a great cloud of witnesses.
May the blessing of God
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you, now and ever more. Amen