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All Saints Sunday – 11-3–2019 – St. Paul’s

I am not a knitter.  I don’t crochet.  I did a macrame piece in art class once, but I’m not sure I even remember what that means anymore.  Still, the leading image of the Collect for All Saints’ Day is not lost on me, even if I don’t know how to knit.

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Being an Episcopalian, even though I don’t knit, I’ve been around a lot of knitters.  In seminary, folks would knit through class.  I chose to take notes, but who’s to say who’s right or wrong.  I’ve watched folks knit through meetings, through Bible Studies, and even in prayer.  I’ve seen knitters work meticulously on a pattern, only to have to rip out a whole row for lack of a single purl.

I’ve witnessed, first hand, how difficult it can be to hold a pattern together, which I think is why I love the Collect for All Saints’ Day so much.  Because the church is full of people, life in the church is not easy.  It requires care and attention to hold all the competing forces together.  Occasionally, it might require backing up a few steps because of a knit too many or, more often, a purl too few.  In the long run, however, the hard and painstaking work of knitting together the beautiful afghan that is the church is so very much worth it.

On the Feast of All Saints, we celebrate the work that God has done throughout the generations to ensure that the Good News of Jesus Christ continues to be lived out.  We remember fondly, sometimes, but not always, the saints who have devoted their lives to the witness of the Gospel.  We recall the giants, Saints with a capital S, but also those who died as though they never existed.  We remember the clergy whose sermons inspired us; the Sunday School teachers whose felt board skills enthralled us; the kitchen helpers whose baked good energized us; and the servants of God of all ages and varieties who have worked behind the scenes to make the Good News of Jesus Christ known.

Like knitting, the church doesn’t just happen.  It requires care, love, and a whole lot of passion to make it happen, and as we celebrate All Saints’ Day this week, I give thanks for the opportunity to be a stitch in the larger tapestry of the Kingdom of God.

Creating a new verse for I sing a song…..

Who are the beloved saints among your family or community?

What are the stories of their faithful living?

How did they declare the grace of God in their lives?

What were their habits of Christian living and service?

How were they a light of God’s grace to us?

Who can you name in the circle of witnesses in your life?

Let us pray…

Generous and gracious God,

we give you thanks for those who have gone before us

who now belong to the communion of saints.

We thank you for ordinary persons 

with laughter in their eyes and kindness in their deeds.

We thank you for common ones 

with compassionate hearts and listening ears.

We thank you for holy ones who saw light in the midst of darkness

and potential when others saw dead ends.

We thank you for strong ones who remained faithful in times of crisis,

who endured suffering yet remained joyous,

who fought for justice when they could have chosen comfort.

Help us walk in the shadow of the saints who go before us, 

now and always, AMEN+

 

 

 

Opening Prayer

On this All Saints Day 

we remember and celebrate

saints of yesterday and of today;

faithful people who set their hopes on Christ and

who with their lives, praised God.

May our hearts and minds be open 

to new realities in Christ. 

We want to be counted among saints who 

will inherit your kingdom

May we, in this hour, commit ourselves 

to living lives that are pleasing to God.

Call to Offering

Our witness to Christ may not be the ultimate sacrifice of our lives. 

Our witness may simply be to say “Yes” to the call 

To share all of our gifts generously and wholeheartedly. 

God takes pleasure in us 

whether we are able to participate

by providing support 

or whether we are among those who receive support. 

The invitation awaits our bold but joy-filled response.

Benediction

May Christ who makes saints of sinners,

Who has transformed those whom we remember today,

Raise and strengthen you 

That you may transform the world.

And the blessing….