Trinity United Church
November 01, 2020
All Saints’ Day
“Connection not Perfection”
Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally, we gather and live and work on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.
"Parade of our Saints" video: CLICK HERE
Call to Worship
Come you who mourn, and who are meek.
Come you who hunger and thirst for justice.
Come you who are merciful and pure of heart.
We follow the ones who came before.
And celebrate those who will come after.
We share communion with all the saints, from all times and all places.
Let us worship and be filled,
Let us receive comfort and mercy.
We pray together:
Prayer of Approach
Holy One, we gather today remembering all those who came before us, those who have served you since ages past: our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and ministers, leaders and saints. We thank you for the work you did through them. We give thanks for the witness of their lives, for the promise and example of their service, for the faith they passed on to us. In this time of worship, fill us with your Holy Spirit and remind us of their presence as we seek to imitate all that was best in them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hymn “You Servants of God” VU 342
CLICK HERE to listen.
Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Compassionate and Forgiving God,
we hold up to you all in us that is not what you expect of us.
We hold up our rashness and short tempers,
our pettiness and self-interest,
our greed and our short sightedness.
We hold up also our exhaustion, our fear,
our doubt and our faithlessness.
We trust that you see what even we would hide deep within ourselves.
Words we fear to speak, you hear with compassion and mercy.
From the beginning you have held us in your embrace,
guided and protected us.
Hear our confession and reveal your mercy.
We attend your divine presence, O God.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessed are those who take their refuge in God.
God’s angel keeps guard over us and delivers us.
God’s ear is open to our cry,
God’s eye is upon the faithful.
God sees us and hears us, God keeps us and delivers us.
We are forgiven, we are renewed,
we are admitted to the company of the saints.
Thanks be to God!
Hymn “For All the Saints” VU 705
CLICK HERE to listen.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Message CLICK HERE
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to You, O God, our rock and our redeemer.
We often speed by "All Saints" in our calendar. It is usually a mid-week observance on the 1st of Nov, overlooked in our recovery from Halloween, and our preparations for Remembrance Day.
Early in my ministry, I was very intentional about observing All Saints Day in my personal practice: it was an opportunity to reflect on the memorial services and funerals I'd done in the past year, the losses I'd experienced in my own life. And also to be grateful for the people who had shaped and formed me.
The last two weeks, I've been collecting pictures. Photos sent in by members of the congregation, and photos of my own family members. Then I started going through our last picture directory and it finally occurred to me to take pictures of the memorial service bulletins I had in my files. It was a deeply moving and satisfying project. So many of the pictures automatically bring a smile to my face, others evoke profound gratitude and affection.
I found it particularly moving when I started to work more closely with the text from Revelation.
We often bypass or skirt around the book of the Revelation to John. It is one of the least accessible texts in scripture because of its extreme imagery. And certainly several generations of people trying to read the text as a literal prediction of today, or the days to come hasn't helped to make the scripture more transparent.
It is a letter about a dream. And at no point is the dream actually explained. It is just a long narrative full of strange often violent imagery. What's more, while people at the time may have understood many of the colloquial references in the dream, those meanings and connections are largely lost to us.
We will never fully understand the complete impact of these words from the Revelation.
But there is still much that we can receive from these words. And it is worth the exploration.
So, first, let me paint the picture for you:
The scene today precedes the action of the book. Following this scene all hell will break loose for several chapters before we start to see the vision of a New Heaven and a New Earth in chapter 21. I read today's scene as a kind of index, or foreshadowing of what is about to come in the rest of the book.
In the dream, the author is being given a tour of the heavens by an elder.
We see gathering around the God's Throne, a multitude that includes all the peoples of the earth: all tribes, all languages. And they are singing and giving praise to those enthroned. They are singing praise in gratitude.
"Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen!"
These people, representing all the peoples of the earth, are full of praise and thanksgiving.
The Elder asks of the author, "Who are these people, where do they come from?"
The Author defers back to the elder, "you are the one that knows."
And the Elder replies, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal."
"They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center… will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
We hear those last few words at funerals and on Remembrance Day.
Volumes have been written on "The great ordeal" and what it is.
Many want to project "The great ordeal" into the future… the apocalypse, Armageddon, the end of the world… they describe the day of judgement.
I believe the "Great Ordeal" is life itself. The day to day choices we make that often cause pain and suffering to ourselves, and others; the anguish of loss; the suffering of estrangement and alienation; agony of discernment between right and wrong; the bliss of ignorance and self-centeredness; The Great Ordeal is everything that keeps us from experiencing God's presence as immediate and among us.
While the book of the Revelation to John spends a great deal of time in the chapters that follow, describing "The Great Ordeal," "The Great Ordeal" is not the point of the book.
The point of The Revelation to John, is that The Great Ordeal ends.
The Revelation to John puts the Great Ordeal in its context.
The point of The Revelation to John is not the suffering but that "the Lamb… will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
And there will be singing!
I don’t have my resources at home with me, so I can't easily look up my references. It is in "Love Poems from God 12 Sacred Voices from East and West" translations by Ladinsky. And I can't remember the original author, I'm just going to attribute it to Augustine:
Augustine prays, "let me love you, Lord! Let me love all of you." God replies, "Little one, you are like a mouse that wants to make love to a lion who isn't even in heat."
Augustine prays, "But let me love you, Lord!"
God replies, "Which part?"
Augustine, "All of you, Lord! All of you!"
"There is a blemish on my body. It is a very small part of me, but it is very ugly. Will you be able to love that?"
"I will try Lord, I will try!"
"That blemish is all the pain and all the suffering of the world."
I believe that one of the purposes of the Book of the Revelation to John is to put pain, and suffering, and anguish into context. Without diminishing the severity of the pain. Without absolving us of our responsibility for the suffering we cause.
However, God's glory and wisdom, and thanksgiving and honour and power and might, are greater than the Great Ordeal.
Today, on All Saints Day, during a year when we are experiencing some profound ordeal, I find comfort in the greatness and glory of Glory. God is so much greater than the suffering.
May the Lamb lead us to the springs of the water of life.
May God wipe away our every tear.
May we find our voice for singing.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
The prayers today were written by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
God of the ages: We praise you for all your servants who have done justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with you. We praise you O God for all the apostles and martyrs and saints of every time and place, who in life and death have witnessed to your truth and love.
We praise you, O God for all those who answered your call to preach the Good News of the Gospel and to administer your Sacraments of grace and love, and for those who devoted their lives to teaching your Word and sharing the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures with others whether it be at home or in foreign lands.
We praise you, O God for those who showed compassion to the least, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and offering mercy and forgiveness to those who have gone astray.
We praise you, O God for those who were willing to lose their lives in service to others, caring for the sick, comforting the dying, visiting the lonely, consoling those in grief.
We praise you, O God, and we especially honour the memory of those individuals of [Trinity United Church] who have lived among us and shared their faith in personal ways, who have finished the race and now reign on high with you. In addition O God, we honour the memory of those who have graced our lives at other times and in other ways – those whose names we lift up before you in our hearts now.
Hear our prayers, O God, for others we name before you both in our hearts and aloud…
For all the saints from whom their labours rest, we praise you, O God. We praise you and we thank you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Disciples’ Prayer
Hymn “Lead On, O Cloud of Presence” VU 421
CLICK HERE to listen.
Commissioning and Benediction
It is time to go bravely into the world.
May your hearts be open to deeper questions.
May God’s questions challenge you, guide you, and help you to find ultimate meaning, and your true calling.
May the Spirit of God be your companion as you walk gently upon the world.