Today we will be celebrating the Feast of All Saints at church. We have been preparing for this for several weeks; the choir readying an anthem and the Sunday School children learning Lesbia Scott’s hymn “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” to sing for the congregation at our fellowship meal after church.
Some of the parishioners have made cakes and decorated them with the names of particular saints whom we celebrate in particular months, but the emphasis is as much on the ordinary saints like us as it is on the amazing examples of the apostles, and martyrs.
I like that. I like that only a few weeks before the beginning of a new church year, we gather as a congregation to remember three things:
We do these things in community because we are never to stand alone, in our joys or our sorrows. As part of the body of Christ we offer our gifts and our lives to one another and to the world and this feast reminds us that the path of the Christ follower is rarely easy and may be quite painful, but ultimately is good.
When we look at the saints, those we have known and those celebrated in story, we find that there is one common thread- they all knew the wild, free love and grace of God, and they all allowed that love and grace to flow through them into the world. Often times they were mocked as crazy, often times the world rejected the message and the reviled the messenger, but those men and women who knew the love of God in their lives were able to rest, saying things like:
“All is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” (Julian of Norwich)
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (St Paul, Letter to the Romans 8:38-39)
If I had only a small measure of that faith and assurance, what would I be able to see beyond my own needs and insecurities? How would I be able to allow the love of God to flow through and into my family and neighborhood?
As today’s collect says:
Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one
communion and fellowship in the mystical body of thy Son
Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow thy blessed
saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to
those ineffable joys that thou hast prepared for those who
unfeignedly love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our
Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Indeed, Lord, give us grace and let it flow through us to the waiting world.