All Saints

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Sermon:

When I’m in our church buildings I find myself thinking about all those who have worshipped there before us. Over this last 18 months in particular I’ve found myself thinking of all the different things that have happened in our nation and across the world in the last 150 years, 400, 600, 800 years, depending on which of our churches I happen to be in.

There are those that I know about in my history and our history. Depending on when and where you studied history at school there will be periods that you were taught in more detail than others. Some will know lots about Kings and Queens, others like myself Second World War and the history of medicine, some American political history………. And rather more scarily is how many of those in school now are learning the history of the 1970s and 80s. And soon people will study our time…

We also have those who are part of our personal history, those who have influenced our lives directly, those we know by name.

Today on All Saints’ day we pause as one description said ‘to remember all saints and martyrs, known and unknown throughout Christian history.’ I particularly like the phrase ‘known and unknown,’ all of course are known to God.

All Saints’ day is a day when we allow our lens of sight and recollection to go to its widest possible reaches. We take time to remember all those who have gone before us, those who are recorded in the scriptures and those who aren’t, those who are recognised in the writings of the early church or the church through the ages and those whose name no one knows. Those who have found themselves known far and wide and those whose faithfulness is known only by those closest to them or to God alone.

Many of us may be gathering this weekend for services where we remember those who we love but see no longer. For many in this ongoing pandemic the pain of loss is felt deeply. I remember all those I’ve journeyed with and those who I have helped families honour and commended to God’s care, each one known and loved by God.

There are many challenges that we face as Christians as part of the church in this age. There are many questions to prayerfully and courageously explore, about how we live out our lives and beliefs when we are gathered together and when we are scattered in our daily lives. There are some new challenges that are unique to our age and there are others that have been faced before, some many times by other saints who have come before us.

Each time I gather in one of our church buildings and look beyond the challenges of finances, mending the roof, ministry share, what to restart when and with whom and so on…..perhaps I’m there for a regular service, a christening, a wedding or a funeral, a quiet moment of prayer and take time to widen the lens within me, I remember the bigger story that I’m part of. The God who is faithful and has been through the ages. I remember the different ways in which people have caught sight of God and his goodness and have been transformed by the truth of who God is.

In John 11 we see two sisters in a moment of profound grief at the loss of their brother Lazarus. Jesus hadn’t been there and somehow they hope, know or believe that it could have been different if he had been. We see Jesus full of emotion and then in a moment no one could have anticipated death is replaced by life and Lazarus lives. In this moment they saw God’s glory, his power and knew his presence.

In Revelation 21 we see a picture painted of a new heaven and a new earth, a holy city. It is a place where God dwells among his people and every tear is wiped away. There is no more crying or mourning or pain. What an incredible picture, but not just a picture but a promise.

And we and all those who have lived and died since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension live in anticipation of the fullness of God’s kingdom in the fullness of time. We live between the gospel of John and Revelation. The bible is full of God’s promise for our present and future age. He is with us by His Spirit and longs for us to know his guidance, strength, comfort, peace, joy, salvation and so much more.

During his life on earth Jesus showed us glimpses of the fullness we look towards. Lazarus reminds us that death will be defeated and is so through Jesus’ own death and resurrection.

God longs for us to know him in our very real and ordinary moments, in our joys and sorrows, in our mourning and celebrating. As we choose to trust God and look to him, he helps us to see how and where he is at work in the world, within us and around us. We are drawn to look wider and further and with eyes of faith and hope to be those who keep on looking forward trusting in God’s faithfulness.

So as we remember all of the saints who have gone before us, those who are known and those who are unknown. We give thanks for their lives and witness, and we pray for the humility to learn from them, but to be committed to following God’s will for us in this age at this time, trusting that nothing we face is too big or too complicated for God.

Questions:

  • Who has most inspired or encouraged you in your own journey of faith?
  • Is there anyone or any particular chapter of the history of God’s people that you would like to discover more about? How could you do that?
  • And finally, what do you hope will be our legacy for future generations of saints?

Revd Laura Handy – Team Vicar – Saltway Team

 


Page last updated: 20th October 2021 3:23 PM
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