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Sermon and Liturgy for All Saints - Year A
Revelation 7:9-17; I John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12
"All Saints"


READING:  Revelation 7:9-17; I John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12
SERMON :  "All Saints"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-allse 341000


MUSICAL PRELUDE


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (from Psalm 18)
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    I will extol the Lord at all times;
     his praise will always be on my lips.
P    My soul will boast in the Lord;
     let the afflicted be glad and rejoice.
L    Glorify the Lord with me; let us
     exalt his name together.


* INTROIT: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (VU-232 verse 1)


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION


* HYMN: "Spirit of The Living God"                       - VU 376


SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- announcements
- gathering pray requests and thanksgivings


CANTICLE OF PRAISE: "You Are God"
L    We praise you, O God; we acknowledge you to be the Lord.
     All creation worships you, the father everlasting.
P    To you all angels cry aloud, the heavens and the powers
     therein.  To you the cherubim and seraphim sing in endless
     praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven
     and earth are full of your glory.
L    The glorious company of apostles praise you.  
     The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise you.  
     The noble army of martyrs praise thee.
P    Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:
     Father of infinite majesty; 
     your true and only son, worthy of all worship; 
     and the Holy Spirit, our comforter.
L    You, Christ, are the King of Glory.  
     You are the eternal Son of the Father.
P    When you became a man to set us free, 
     you did not shun a maiden's womb.  
     When you overcame the sharpness of death, 
     you opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
L    You are the seated at the right hand of God in glory.
     We believe that you will come again and be our judge.
P    We pray to you - help your servants, 
     bought with your precious blood.  
     Bring us with your saint to glory everlasting.  Amen.


ANTHEM: "God Be in My Head"


CHILDREN'S TIME


* HYMN: "Faith of Our Fathers"                           - VU 580


FIRST SCRIPTURE READING: Revelation 7:9-17
    (NRSV)  After this I looked, and there was a great multitude
     that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes
     and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and
     before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their
     hands. {10} They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
     "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne,
     and to the Lamb!" {11} And all the angels stood around the
     throne and around the elders and the four living creatures,
     and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped
     God, {12} singing, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and
     thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God
     forever and ever! Amen." {13} Then one of the elders
     addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and
     where have they come from?" {14} I said to him, "Sir, you are
     the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who
     have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their
     robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. {15} For
     this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship
     him day and night within his temple, and the one who is
     seated on the throne will shelter them. {16} They will hunger
     no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them,
     nor any scorching heat; {17} for the Lamb at the centre of
     the throne 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."

L        This is the word of the Lord.
P        Thanks be to God.


SECOND SCRIPTURE READING: 1 John 3:1-3
     (NRSV)  See what love the Father has given us, that we should
      be called children of God; and that is what we are. The
      reason the world does not know us is that it did not know
      him. {2} Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be
      has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he
      is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he
      is. {3} And all who have this hope in him purify themselves,
      just as he is pure.

L        This is the word of the Lord.
P        Thanks be to God.


UNISON READING: Matthew 5:1-12 (The Beatitudes)
L     When he saw the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountainside and
      sat down.  His disciples came to him, and he began to teach
      them, saying:
P:    Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom
           of heaven.
      Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
      Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
      Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for
           righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
      Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
      Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the
           children of God.
      Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness
           sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      And blessed are you when people revile you and persecute
           you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely on my
          account.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your
          reward in heaven, for in the same way people persecuted
          the prophets before you.


* HYMN: "O Holy City, Seen of John"                      - VU 709


SERMON: All Saints

      Bless Thou, the words of my lips and the meditations of
      our hearts that they be of profit to us and acceptable to
      thee, oh our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen

Today we are celebrating All Saints Day.

As I told the children, All Saints Day is the day after
Halloween, and it is a day on which Christ's people remember
those who have gone before them in the faith and who now have
found happiness in the eternal kingdom promised to us by God.

All Saints Day is a day on which we remember special people,
      people who now dwell with God in heaven.
          people whom the scriptures and the church call saints.

St. John the Divine, in his Revelation, shares with us in his
vision several glimpses of heaven and of what the life of the
saints is like there.

Today's reading from Revelation was one of those glimpses.

In that glimpse we see that in heaven there is a multitude that
no one can count,
      a multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language on
      earth,
and that this multitude stands before the throne of God and
before the lamb, and loudly proclaim God's praise, saying:

      Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, 
      and to the Lamb.

And we see too clustered around the throne of God the elders and
the angels and the four creatures of God,    and they, like the
multitude, praise God saying

      Praise and glory and thanks and honour and power and
      strength be to our God forever and forever - AMEN AMEN

We see as well in this glimpse into heaven that the eternal life
is not only a life of exuberant praise.

We see as well that there, next to God, there is neither hunger,
or thirst, or heat, or pain any more - and that God himself wipes
the tears from the saint's eyes, the tears that they shed here in
this life, and that while God soothes them, the Lamb - our Lord
Jesus, leads them to the springs of living water, the springs of
joy and goodness evermore.

In heaven there is no suffering, nor death, nor grief;
all that has passed away, a new reality has come,
a new life has come, a glorious life...

It is a life in which there is peace, and joy and praise;
         a life in which there is ecstasy and excitement,
         love and tenderness,
         serenity and exhilaration.

It is a life lived in a setting that is often described as
golden, as full of light and beauty,
         a setting which defies earthly imagination,
and so is described in terms of wealth and abundance,
in terms of jewels and fruit, and greenery,
in terms of all the things that a person here on earth could ever
want.

We find out too from John that this life to which our faith
points,
         that this life to which people who have brought back from
         death at the last moment have testified,
is for those who have tried to be faithful to God,
those who have given of themselves in love,
those who have named the name that is above every name....

My friends, no one - not even John
      can really tell us just how wonderful heaven is,
          and certainly no one can tell us just where it is,
             and exactly what it feels like and looks like,
but also my friends, no one can tell me, and no one should ever
tell you, that it does not exist.

The saints are there, the saints we remember this day.
          
I know it because at times I can feel them around me,
         telling me to hang in,
         telling me to be faithful,
         telling me that something wonderful has happened to them and
that it will happen to me as well.

Who are these saints that speak to me, reminding me of what I
should do, and what God has planned for me?

Well - the saints that occasionally reach out to me, the saints
that I think of, are my personal saints,
         they are people who by their actions and words revealed the
         love of God to me.

They are people who, before they went to heaven, strived in their
own special way to be faithful,
         and in their faithfulness, they touched my life and gave me a
         special gift,    always a gift of love, often a gift of wisdom.

I have tried to do the impossible today and describe to you in
poor and inadequate words a little bit of what heaven is like,
because I want you all here today to think about heaven and about
the saints you have known, 
         the saints who are now at God's side praising him and
         watching over you, in the same manner as they watched over
         and cared for you or for someone special to you while they
         lived on this earth.

So what I am going to do now is briefly describe a few of the
saints I have known, the ones that still talk to me even though
they are not here.

As I tell you about my saints, I want you to think of your
saints; and, after I am done, I will say a just a few more words
about saints and about heaven and about us here on earth.

I remember a man called Terry,
      He spent long hours working for the city welfare department,
          and after working with the department,
             he spent long hours working for the church.

He served on Presbytery, trying to get that body of the church to
care as best it could for the churches that it governed.

Everyone listened to Terry because Terry was a gentle and wise
man.  He had a sense of what was right, but whenever he spoke he
never insisted that he was right.  He always said it was just his
view, and perhaps others knew better.

Terry accepted me when others did not.  He welcomed me at a time
when I was new to the area.  I felt loved and appreciated by him
at a time when others were strangers to me, at a time when I felt
lonely.

Terry did not spend all his time talking about prayer or the
bible, he did not spout doctrine or speak about Jesus with every
breath.  But he did say - once in a while - how important the
church was to him and how God mattered.

Terry rarely talked about himself, but he told me once how
privileged he felt to belong to the church -- that it had helped
him and accepted him when he was in pain, when he was going
through a divorce and facing a separation from his children.

He said he felt the love of God at church,
and that is why he worked for it.

The thing I loved about Terry,
and the thing that can still cause me to cry when I think of him
- even though I know he is in heaven
was his humility and his humour,
how he loved people, no matter who they were,
how he lived out the gospel 
and made me want to do the same.

Another saint I want to tell you about is a man called Ike,
he always had a place in his truck for a passenger.  He was a man
who always had a bed for the strangers who came to his door, and
who always managed to send them off the next morning with a
prayer and a couple of dollars.

Ike was a man who talked about God, and talked to God.  And that
interested me, not because he was so good at talking, but because
I saw him go from being a man who was self- centred to being a
man who thought about others and how he could do God's will by
helping them.

He was a man who claimed what little good he did was only
possible because of God's love.

I remember too a woman called Myrtle.  She felt that she was not
very important.  She used to pray every day for other people, 
but she would not pray for herself, so I prayed for her, as did
many other people.

We prayed for her because she was willing to believe that other
people were as good, if not better than her, 
         and because she was always concerned about how other people
         were doing when they were sick or in trouble, and she worried
         for them, and visited them, and cared for them even though in
         her own life she had more troubles than they.

Myrtle trusted God to look after her,
she always believed that things would work out,
that God's plan for her life was right even when she hurt,
even when she lay dying of cancer.

I remember too a man who always lit the church stove...
      a woman who played the organ and taught children to sing...
          a child who filled the church with his laughter...
a teacher who made friend with and defended students other
teachers didn't like...

I remember a fisherman who always gave God the credit for all
that he caught, and a farmer who was just like him.

I remember, and I think of, and at times I am sure I can hear
their voices, all these people.

They were saints to me,
      they were faithful in their way to God
          they lived out the gospel as best they could.

Who do you remember?
Who showed you a bit of what God is like?
Who sought to love their neighbours, and to love God?
Who loved you?

The list of Saints, my friends, includes on it a list of very
notable people.  People like the Apostles, Men and women like
Saint Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila.

But the list of saints includes not just the famous people, not
just the ones that bishops and popes have declared saints
because of their deep faith and impressive works.

No - the list of saints includes all those who love God
and who have striven to love their neighbours as themselves.

It includes all those who have sought to be faithful to Jesus
Christ, those who have washed their robes in his blood.

A saint is someone who is different, someone, who, because of how
they loved God and led their life is worth imitating.

They are not perfect people.  Even the most famous saints, 
those men and woman the church as a whole points to, 
were not perfect.

Saint Peter was inconsistent,
     Saint Paul at times seemed a little arrogant,
         Saint John and Saint James wanted honour and glory,
and the list of defects goes on.

All the saints, as the expression goes, had feet of clay,
         but they, for all that, had something worth imitating,
          something worth remembering.

Saints are people who made a difference to others and people who
made a difference to us, because they attempted to love and serve
God, and to love and serve God's world.

Each of the saints that I remember in some way directed my to
God, they revealed by some portion of their lives that God made a
difference to them.  And because of their faith they made a
difference to me.

That is what being a saint is all about - making a difference
         a positive difference,
         a loving difference,
the kind of difference that inclines the hearts and minds of
others to God and his praise.

Each one of us, my friends is called to be a saint,
and, each one of us because of the love of Jesus Christ, 
can be a saint.

At times it can be difficult to live up to this calling,
         at times it is hard to love,
         at times it is hard to do things that shows God's care,
         at times it is hard to not just to act on our faith,
         at times it is hard even to have faith.

And that is where the saints in heaven come in.
         
Our saints, the ones we remember, and the saints of the whole
church, are with God and we can still hear them 
     and we can honour them, by listening to them and by
         remembering how they lived and how they believed.

We can take strength from the saints who are gathered around
God's throne,
     we can take strength from them - and in that strength, as the
     church has always intended by naming the saints, we can then
     go forth to imitate them;
          to copy in our behaviour and attitudes those things which
          cause us to name them as special and holy to us and to
          God.

Brothers and sisters - we will join the saints with God in
Heaven.  There is a room reserved for us with them and the Lamb,
          
In the meantime remember the saints.  Take strength from them and
honour their memory,    by being more like them.

It is that to which we are called by God, 
and by his Son Jesus Christ --- AMEN


* HYMN: "For All The Saints"                             - VU 705


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand
for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU
541) and Prayer of Dedication


* HYMN: I Feel The Winds of God                          - VU 625


* COMMISSIONING (unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we
now go forth into the world - to fulfil our calling as the people
of God, the Body of Christ.


* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN


* THREEFOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"   - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1996 - 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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