The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together on All Saints Day.
Today we will be celebrating Holy Communion, and the invitation is for all of us to share this. I invite you to have some bread and wine, or whatever suitable alternative you have, ready for that part of the service. As the gathered people of Jesus together, let’s pause and prepare to worship.
Call to Worship
Come all who give thanks for the gift of life;
Come all who long for a just and happy world;
Come all who seek peace and pursue it;
And together we will work transforming pain into hope, fear into love and crying into laughter.
Hymn 740 – For all the saints (vv 1,2,4)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of life and blessing, maker of all things and lover of all people,
it is our greatest joy to be united in the community of your people, stretching throughout the generations and all around the world you love.
In every age you have called women and men to serve you and in serving to reflect your truth and glory. We give thanks for Peter and Paul, for Martha and Mary, for Columba and Margaret and Cuthbert, for all the saints whose lives reflected Christ and who confronted their societies with the claims of the gospel.
As we remember the saints, so we are conscious that we sometimes lack their faithfulness, their courage, their commitment. Forgive us our half-heartedness and give us courage that we may be your saints in our own time, faithfully following Jesus, no matter the cost.
People of God, know that you are forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with others. Amen
Readings – Isaiah 51: 1-3
Matthew 5: 1-12
Hymn 662 – Jesus thou joy of loving hearts (vv 1,5)
Faithful God, we thank you for the example of all the saints. Like them may we follow in Your footsteps, with courage and hope, determined to do Your work and live our lives for You. Thank you for meeting with us here in communion and the reminder that Your salvation lasts forever; Your righteousness will never fail. Amen.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, the quarry from which you were dug. So writes the prophet Isaiah. Look to the past, to your heritage, to the things that have made you the person you are today. I was reminded of that when I attended an exhibition in Yetholm last week about life in the Kale and the Beaumont and the College Valleys. Activities and people from the past, but they grounded the present.
Today is All Saints Day, and so as a Church we are encouraged to look at our heritage and what makes us the Church today. As a church, we are Reformed and always reforming. Our heads are not stuck looking behind us, but rather we look ahead. However, we always learn from the past, and as Christians we can be inspired by so many of those who went before us, the saints. Some are well known: disciples and apostles – the Andrews, Peters, Lydias. Others are the Mary Slessors or Eric Liddells, whose stories inspired, well certainly my adolescence. There are also many anonymous people who down the centuries lived out faithfully the Kingdom values, while I am sure all of us can think of people who deeply touched our lives with their love and insights and values and influenced who we are today.
Today is a day to remember the saints, and so it is appropriate to have communion today. At communion I always feel a sense of connectedness: a connectedness with our Lord Jesus, as we reflect on his sacrifice on the cross, but also a connectedness with the church past and present, as we ‘join with the whole company of heaven to sing the angel song’. I feel connected with those who have gone before, with the saints. But I also feel connected with the church worldwide, worshipping today in big cathedrals or under trees in the African Bush, worshipping in so many different ways, with those in the church in Nice, where a terrorist killed three people this week. There is a modern church in Palestine which has its walls covered with pictures of the saints with haloes, but the part I liked was of 20th century saints in 20th century clothes, but there was one without a halo, and that was of Desmond Tutu, and he didn’t have a halo because he was still alive. He would never claim to be saintly, but the light shines wonderfully through him;
The wonderful thing about the saints is that they are not perfect: they are a mix of good and not so good like us. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that every saint has a past, and every sinner a future. The saints are ordinary people. As one hymn has it, ‘The saints of God are down our street…They serve at check-outs, empty bins, they teach and make and mend… to voiceless folk they lend an ear and immigrants befriend’. And they invite us to make a response.
The spotlight on All Saints Day is not only on the heroes of the past, but also on us today, as we live out the Kingdom values, as seen in the Beatitudes, which is sometimes called the manifesto of sainthood. The saints, for all their understated readiness, let God’s power shine through them. How is God calling us to do the same?
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
Loving God we thank you for the many blessings you give us. Help us in turn to give back a token of your love for us in the giving of our time, our efforts and also in our offering, as we seek to shine forth your love.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.” We pray for those who find themselves on the margins of society and the economy, for all struggling to make ends meet, especially at this difficult time.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” We pray for people and communities facing famine and drought, as well as the pandemic. Give strength to agencies like Christian Aid dedicated to empowering others. Move us to share what we have with those who have so much less.
Christ, you blessed the peacemakers. We pray for those who work for peace and reconciliation in a divided world. We pray for areas of tension and remember Nigeria. We also commit before you the people of the United States as they elect a new president.
Jesus, you blessed those who weep. We pray for those around the world and in our community who are dying, and for those who weep for their loved ones who have died. We name in silence those on our hearts this day, including thanking you for the saints, those who have gone before us. Amen
Hymn 19 – Ye Gates
As we come to share in Holy Communion, we bring the bread and wine that we prepared earlier and pause as we prepare to share in this meal with one another.
In our own homes, at our own tables, we meet with Jesus. At our own tables, Jesus calls us to meet him. He welcomes us without the need for show, without the need to be what others expect us to be, without any baggage that might be weighing us down.
Come and drink of the love of God, which has been poured out for each of us; Come and taste the bread – the bread which never spoils, which never grows mouldy. Come and share, come and experience, come and see.
We hear again the story of that night: While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body’. Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I tell you, I will never again drink the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ (Mark 14: 22-24)
We are the friends of Jesus today. He invites us to break bread together, to remember him and to pray that God’s Kingdom will come.
Let us pray:
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord
Let us give thanks to the lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise
Thank you, loving God, for these gifts which we share and for the love that you give to us. We meet with you here filled with your promise of welcome and community. So, we gather here as we are, as you need us to be and as you have called. Long ago, you welcomed your people to you and made known your greatness and glory; you sought out the outcast, you welcomed the stranger, you reached outside society’s expectations, beyond tradition and though the power of empire.
Therefore with all your people, past present and to come, and with the whole company of heaven we sing the hymn of your unending glory:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Help us to be mirrors of your glory, to be the people that you need us to be so that we can shine as beacons of hope and love in your world. Transforming God, we thank you that your Holy Spirit meets with us and we pray that she will take these human-made gifts and symbols: Wheat harvested, baked and prepared; Grapes picked, trodden and transformed and make them for us your body broken and shared and your blood spilt and poured out and offered.
For all that we are offered here, we thank God, as we gather at our own tables, as we hear again the story, and as we consider the signs of Jesus’s love for us: the cross a sign of Jesus’ arm stretched out in love His empty tomb a declaration that God’s love is greater than human power and stronger than death.
Breaking of bread
The Lord Jesus on the night that he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said, ‘this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me’.
In the same way he took the cup, saying ‘ This cup is the new covenant sealed by my blood. Whenever you drink of it, do so in memory of me’
Jesus, Lamb of God: have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world: grant us your peace.
As we follow the example of Jesus, I invite you to hold the bread. This is the Christ’s body, broken for you. Take and eat in memory of him.
I invite you to take the wine. This is the blood of Christ poured out for each one of us. Take and drink in memory of him.
The disciples were together behind locked doors, and Jesus came and stood among them and he said. Peace be with you.
And so I say to you, The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Loving God, we praise you for what you have given and for what you have promised us here today. You have made us one with all your people in heaven and in earth. You have fed us with the bread of life and renewed us for your service.
Now we give ourselves to you and ask that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom and that our love may be your love reaching out into the life of the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn 739 – The Church’s one foundation (vv1,4)
In solidarity with the saints
We have shared this meal
In confidence with the faithful
We have gathered our prayers
In faithfulness with those whom you love
You have made your presence known and we have been fed
And may the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and those whom you love, now and forevermore. Amen.