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Oct 25

All Saints

This Sunday, many of us will celebrate All Saints Sunday.  Now, officially, All Saints is on November 1; however, most Protestant Churches celebrate All Saints on the Sunday immediately prior to November 1.  Of course, this means that it tends to coincide (or, so might say that it conflicts) with Reformation Sunday (celebrating/remembering the “official” start of the Reformation on the Sunday closest to October 31).  Personally, I don’t think it is all that hard to recognize both of these special occasions in the life of the Church – especially since Reformation Sunday seeks to thank God for the life of the “saints” who made the Reformation possible, and All Saints seeks to thank God for the lives of all the “saints” who have gone before us in ministry.

The Revised Common Lectionary gives us a specific set of readings for All Saints.  So, in this Tuesday Brainstorm, let us explore these texts a bit:

Revelation 7:9-17

  • This passage can be incredibly hopeful – especially for those who have lost loved ones in the last year.  In the full presence of God, there is no hunger, thirst, discomfort, or sorrow.
  • When we come to the Table together, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we gather in the full presence of God.  Is it any wonder, then, that we call it the “joyful feast”?  We are given food and drink, and we are welcomed as honored guests.  The celebration of the sacrament serves well as an illustration of this text in the here and now.

Psalm 34:1-10, 22

  • The words of this Psalm speak of God’s goodness and enduring faithfulness.  Truly, God delivers us from our troubles.  And yet, it isn’t always as if God simply reaches out a divine hand and saves us.  Certainly, God is capable of acting alone, but so often we are God’s hands and feet.  We are, the saying goes, the only Jesus that some people may ever know.  On All Saints, we can celebrate the ways that those who have gone before us have faithfully been God’s hands and feet – and, we can challenge ourselves to go and do likewise.
  • If you are celebrating the Lord’s Supper, try using this particular scripture selection as the Affirmation of Faith (reading it together as a full congregation).

1 John 3:1-3

  • We are Children of God – but that doesn’t mean that we are finished projects yet.
  • Just a few weeks ago, Moses asked to see God face-to-face.  And though he did not get a complete look, what was revealed to him changed him.  So it is when the Word (God-made-flesh) is revealed to us.  We cannot help being changed in the presence of the Holy One!  And that revelation begins now, as we study and worship together.

Matthew 5:1-12

  • If you have any access to the Confessing the Beatitudes Bible Study (the 2011 Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study), it will likely be a very useful reference for this text!  (Plus, it is simply a wonderful Bible Study!)  The author, Margaret Aymer, also has a blog related to the study.
  • We tend to think of all of the “they will receive ___” and “they will be ____” statements as things that will happen in the afterlife.  But what if we consider how those things happen in the here and now?  What does it look like be comforted…be filled…receive mercy…be called Children of God?
  • Could it be that we are the ones who provide the blessing (as we pondered in the Psalm passage)?

Quick Tip:  The traditional color for All Saints is White, accented (sometimes) by gold.  If you want to use fabric other than the white paraments that you already (likely) own to decorate the Table and worship space, now is often a great time to shop for fabric.  Why now?  Halloween.  Fabric stores often have sales and specials on interesting fabrics at the end of October since there are many folks who are making costumes for Halloween!  Iridescent materials, satins, and tulle may be up to 40-60% off right now (because you can’t make a princess costume without sparkle, satin, or tulle).   

2 comments

  1. Matthew Emery

    My understanding is that traditionally if you’re not going to celebrate All Saints on November 1st, it is always transferred to the Sunday *after* November 1st, not before.

    1. Amy Loving

      There are, indeed, several churches who do that, too.

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