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Sermon and Liturgy for All Saints - Year C
Ephesians 1:11-23; Psalm 149; Luke 6:20-36
"All Saints and Our Saints"


READING:  Ephesians 1:11-23; Psalm 149; Luke 6:20-36
SERMON :  "All Saints and Our Saints"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-allssesn 449804
                    
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon for the
     upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are found in the
     United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".  

     Sources:  Thanks to David F. Hills (from PRCL-L; Climax/Scotts
     UMC's, Climax, MI) for submitting the humorous story and to Steve
     Portner (portner@UPLINK.NET) "Guidelines for Saints" as sent to
     the PRCL List, October 1998.  The Eucharistic Prayer is based on
     one by Nathan Nettleton "Eucharistic Preface For All Saints", also
     as sent to the PRCL List.

     Service Note: "NAMING SAINTS BEFORE GOD" The Congregation will be
     given paper and pencils and asked, in silence to write down the
     name of one or two special "saints" in their lives for whom they
     wish to give God special thanks this day.  The paper will then be
     placed on the offering plate when the offering is taken.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)
  

* WORDS OF WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP: (based on Revelation 7:10-12)
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  Salvation comes from our God who is seated on the throne;
P  And from the lamb at the centre of the throne who is our shepherd.
L  All blessing and glory,
P  All thanksgiving and honour,
L  All power and might,
P  All praise and worship,
L  All tributes that heaven and earth can offer,
P  Belong to our God forever and ever.  Amen


THIS WEEK AT ST. ANDREW'S
- Welcome and Announcements    
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters     
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


MUSIC AND SILENT PREPARATION


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Holy and Loving God, as the angels and all the saints gather before your
throne and proclaim your everlasting praise and glory, so we gather here
today in your holy sanctuary to worship and adore you.  Stir up, O Lord,
your faithful ones to seek more eagerly your living presence and attend
us in this time we have set aside so that we may more worthily magnify
your most holy name.  Grant us grace to follow those who have gone before
us in lives of faith and commitment, that we, with them, may  know the
inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you - we ask it
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  AMEN.


* HYMN:  "Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation"                    - VU 325


A READING FROM EPHESIANS 1:11-23
   (NRSV)  In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been
   destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things
   according to his counsel and will, {12} so that we, who were the
   first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his
   glory. {13} In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth,
   the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked
   with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; {14} this is the pledge of
   our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise
   of his glory. {15} I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and
   your love toward all the saints, and for this reason {16} I do not
   cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. {17} I
   pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may
   give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,
   {18} so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know
   what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of
   his glorious inheritance among the saints, {19} and what is the
   immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to
   the working of his great power. {20} God put this power to work in
   Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right
   hand in the heavenly places, {21} far above all rule and authority
   and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only
   in this age but also in the age to come. {22} And he has put all
   things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for
   the church, {23} which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all
   in all.

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


CHOIR ANTHEM:


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 149 & Refrain #2 (Voices United 873)


A READING FROM LUKE 6:20-36
   (NRSV)  Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you
   who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. {21} "Blessed are you
   who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep
   now, for you will laugh. {22} "Blessed are you when people hate you,
   and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of
   the Son of Man. {23} Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely
   your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did
   to the prophets. {24} "But woe to you who are rich, for you have
   received your consolation. {25} "Woe to you who are full now, for you
   will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn
   and weep. {26} "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is
   what their ancestors did to the false prophets. {27} "But I say to
   you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
   {28} bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. {29} If
   anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from
   anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. {30}
   Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your
   goods, do not ask for them again. {31} Do to others as you would have
   them do to you. {32} "If you love those who love you, what credit is
   that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. {33} If you
   do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For
   even sinners do the same. {34} If you lend to those from whom you
   hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to
   sinners, to receive as much again. {35} But love your enemies, do
   good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be
   great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to
   the ungrateful and the wicked. {36} Be merciful, just as your Father
   is merciful.

L  This is the gospel of our risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN:  "How Firm A Foundation"                                 - VU 660


   During the sermon people will be asked to NAME SAINTS BEFORE GOD
   The Congregation will be given a piece of paper (in the shape of
   an angel) and pencils and asked, in silence to write down the name
   of one or two special "saints" in their lives for whom they wish
   to give God special thanks this day.  The paper will then be
   placed on the offering plate when the offering is taken.


SERMON:  "All Saints and Our Saints"

   Lord of light - shine upon us.  God of love   fill our hearts with
   your wisdom.  Holy Spirit, bring yourself closer to us in my words
   and how we hear them, in our thoughts and how we think them.  Use
   this time - and use us -  to accomplish your good and gracious
   will.  Amen

There is an old story - perhaps it is a joke - perhaps something like
this really happened at one time, we don't really know -- an old story
about two brothers who lived in particular town where they were involved
in corruption, deceit and every manner of vice.  It was rumoured that
they were affiliated with some very famous organized crime families as
well.  Whatever the case, both brothers had accumulated much wealth
through their dishonest means.

There was little grief in the town when the older brother died. 
But his younger brother, wanting to honour his elder sibling,
went all out in planning the funeral.  The problem was finding a
minister willing to do the service, given that neither of them
had ever graced the steps of a church.  Knowing that the one of
the local churches was in the midst of a capital campaign for
some much needed repairs, the younger brother called upon the
minister.

"Reverend," he said, "I know my brother and I never attended your
church, as a matter of fact we never attended any church.  I also
know that you've probably heard a lot of things about my brother
and I, this being a small town and all, but I'd like you to do my
brother's funeral.  And if you'll say he was a saint, I'll write
you a check for 50,000 dollars.  That'll go along way to fixing
up the church." 

After some thought, the pastor agreed to have the service.  The
pastor, however, also had a condition.  The $50,000 had to be
paid in advance.  And so it was. 
 
On the day of the funeral, the church was crowded.  Curiosity
brought dozens of people in, who were certainly not there to
honour the rich man, but to see what the minister would actually
say.  The remainder of the crowd was made up of mobsters and
women the brothers associated with.

The service began with the usual scriptures, hymns and prayers -
and then the homily began.   The minister began slowly, but then
step by step launched into a litany of the horrible things the
rich man had done, how he had been selfish, greedy, corrupt,
caring about no one but himself, carousing with women, drinking
excessively, and on and on.  

The younger brother, sitting up in the front pew,  was getting
hot under the collar about how the minister was not fulfilling
his promise, but during the service there was not much  he could
do about it.  He could only wait and hope that the minister 
would keep his end of the bargain.  Finally, after about ten
minutes of outlining the rich man's flaws, the minister concluded
his sermon in a booming crescendo proclaiming:

"Yes my friends, this man was a no-good, dirty, rotten scoundrel! 
But, compared to his brother, he was a saint!"
---
When people think of the saints, they most often think of people like
Paul, or John or James, and the other apostles; or they think of people
like St. Francis, St. Teresa, St. Catherine, St. Bernadette, or St.
Ignatius of Loyala.

In short they think of those people that the church has long declared to
be saints - those people whose faith and vision and  moral integrity has
been throughly examined and widely known; those normally long dead folk
who have been judged to have advanced the cause of Jesus Christ notably
in this world; those folk who have been deemed to be worthy of imitation
and of praise by both church bureaucrats and popular opinion.

Today is All Saint's Day - a feast day that has been celebrated for
hundreds of years within the church, particularly within the Roman
Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches, but in many others as well. 
But in our tradition - and in many of the traditions arising out of the
Protestant Reformation - often not much is said about the Saints and All
Saints Day: except to explain that the night before, the night of witches
and devils and other things that we should not pay attention to, received
it's name because it is on the Eve of All Hallows Day, of All Saints Day. 

That neglect of the Saints in our tradition is a pity in a way  because
it can make the whole idea of sainthood and of the communion of the
saints,  inaccessible to us, 
   - especially when you couple that neglect with the popular idea of
   what a saint is -namely someone who is only a little less than
   perfect, someone who has been a spiritual overachiever as it were.

It is true that those that the universal church has declared - after much
examination and debate, to be saints are saints.  But - when we get down
to it - these wonderful folk are only bright examples of something that
is very common - namely bright examples of a deep and abiding faith in
Christ Jesus, a faith that has issued forth in action.

They are folk upon whom the fickle finger of public attention has
descended, and while normally deserving of the attention they have and
are receiving, so are many, many, more folk   folk both dead - and folk
still alive.

The word Saint derives from the word Sanctus - which we translate as the
word "holy".

And in the bible - in this morning's reading from the Letter to the
Ephesians, and in all of Paul's letters, the word - sanctus - the word
saint - is applied without further distinction to the company of those
who believe in Christ Jesus and who strive to live faithfully according
to his teachings and his example.

Listen to verse one and two of the Letter to the Ephesians - where Paul
tells them who is writing and to whom it is that he is writing.

   "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the
   saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus - grace
   to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Listen as well to how Paul addresses both the Roman church.

   Paul, a servant  of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle... to
   all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints.  Grace to
   you and peace...."

And the church in Corinth:

   Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God,
   and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God that is in
   Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,
   together with all those who in every place call on the name of our
   Lord Jesus Christ...

Saints are all around us 
- people who are holy 
- people who are set apart from the rest of the world who are different
   because they believe in Christ Jesus and seek to live faithfully as
   he has shown them.

In the bible,
in our faith,
saints are normal people, 
normal people who differ from most others in this world,
   not because of the degree of their moral perfection,
but because of the degree of their faith
   and how, because of their faith and how they live it,
   draw others to give praise to God 
   and inspire them to want to believe in and follow the Christ whom
they believe in all follow.

We are saints....
We are called to be saints...

A saint is someone who is set apart because of their faith.
   A saint is someone whose life is dedicated to the worship of God and
   the doing of God's will.
       A saint is someone who inspires in us the desire to know and
       follow Christ Jesus..

Think about it for a minute:
does it not make sense that we - who are called to be saints - should
pause once a year in our public worship to think about who the saints of
God are and to thank God for them?

Does it not even make sense to perhaps pause once a month  - or even once
a day - in our private worship, and give thanks to God for all the saints
and especially for those saints who have touched our lives and showed to
us something of Christ's love, something of God's glory.

What we admire in them after all is part of what we are called to imitate
part of what we hope God will work thru us,
part of what God calls us to be and to embody and to live out.

A saint is a person who is an example of faithfulness; a person who,
because of their faith in Christ, shows forth something of his light in
their lives.

Think about it for a minute or two more   think of the saints --
   think not of the famous saints - like Saint Paul or Saint John or
   Saint Theresa, or Saint Catherine, or Saint Francis
but think of the saints who have touched your lives
of those who have inspired in you a deeper faith in God,
of those who have made you want to bless the God they believe in...
of those whose love and whose testimony have awakened something in your
soul.

I can think of two men and two women immediately who stirred me to faith.

One was a logger - who had a strange attachment at one time to hand guns,
but who loved the Lord deeply and was able to spin parables out of the
events that occurred on the side hills next to yarder and in his backyard
chicken coop where the chickens learned - or did not learn - to eat the
food that  God designed for them...  A man who knew the bible and knew
that before God he was naught but a sinner - a sinner forgiven and
destined for an eternal glory with all others who love and serve God. 
His name was Ike - and I imagine he is with the Lord now - that, or
messing about somewhere near Mission on the small farm where he retired
to care for his sick mother.

Another was a pastor in the United Church, a man who was not always as
patient and as tolerant as  he might have been, but who could teach the
bible like no other I have met, and whose welcome of my family and myself
helped teach me what the communion of saints is: that communion where
souls touch upon souls - in prayer, in play, in sacrament and in eating
supper together.  He still serves the Lord on Vancouver Island, though it
is with a different congregation of  God's people now.  His name is Les.

Who are you thinking of?

Take the paper angel you have been given and pen or pencil 
and close your eyes and think about saints who have touched your life.  

Think about whose names you would like to write upon the angel as thank
offering to God, an offering to be received during the hymn that is
coming very soon.

I think of a woman who lived in a little ramshackle house in what used to
be a cottage area for the  city of Halifax.  I think of her humility -
such that she did not easily pray for her own needs - and her  care that
led her to pray for others.  I remember how when trials and tribulations
came upon her - problems of health, problems of money, problems of
family, she plunged more deeply into the heart of God - saying that her
Lord had brought her thus far and that she believed that he would see her
through.  Her name was Myrtle - and she died of cancer several years ago
and is now with the Lord above.

I think of Mother Teresa, whose example from afar, has touched me even
here.  One who may well end up being named the kind of saint that we
normally think of when we hear that word.

I think of the Campus Crusade staffers who first showed me what he love
of Christ like, who showed me when I was an bright, obnoxious and
argumentative, University Student; who prayed for me when I was intent on
challenging them and showed to me a flexibility and an openness that I
did not expect, but secretly hoped to see.

I think of some of you.
Fellow saints in the body of Christ.

Who do you think of?
Open your eyes and write down the name or names,
the name or names of those whom you want to thank God for,
of those who faith has inspired you to faith,
of those who dedication to God and to showing God's love
has warmed your hearts.

Bless God for those who seem to you to be blessed,
   - those like the ones to that Jesus calls blessed in the beatitudes
   we heard today, 
   - those whom you believe are indeed set apart by God and made holy
because they have encouraged you to live towards your high calling as the
children of God........

Blessed be God day by day.  Amen.

   At this time, as we stand to sing the hymn "For all The Saints" 
   your tithes and offerings will be received.  Please put your angel
   with its name or names on the offering plate and when the hymn is
   finished, join with me, while still standing in the prayer that
   will follow.  And do not be afraid, as mentioned earlier,  to name
   your prayer joys and concerns, in the bidding section of the
   prayer, followed by the words "Lord, hear our prayer".


* HYMN: "For All The Saints"                    - VU 705 (verses 1-2,5-6)

       (During the hymn the offering will be received and with the
       bread and wine brought forward for our dedication and
       prayer) 

    
* PRAYER OF DEDICATION, INTERCESSION AND THANKSGIVING: 
L  For the immense crowd of angels and archangels who praise your name
   with us today, O Lord, and who present to you our prayer unceasingly;
P  Blessed be you, O God, throughout eternity.
L  For the immense crowd of saints who overcame the great trial and for
   the blessings that you worked and still work in and through them;
P  Blessed be you, O God, throughout eternity.
L  For the immense crowd of saints who live in our midst today and who
   inspire us and others through their example and their teaching;
P  Blessed be you, O God, throughout eternity.
L  For the high calling to which you have called us and for the love of
   your Son Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in it;
P  Blessed be you, O God, throughout eternity.
L  Lord God - make us holy as you are holy.
P  Lord Jesus - make us worthy as you are worthy.
L  Lord God - make us holy as you are holy.
P  Lord Jesus - help us be what you have made us to be 
   by your death and your resurrection.
L  Receive O God all that we offer to you.
P  Accept our tithes and offerings,
   our thanksgiving and our prayers,
   make them and us holy by the power of your love.
L  Hear O God our prayers for ourselves, and for all the saints, and for
   all those people and those situations who are upon our hearts today:

      .... (name those upon your hearts saying "for NAME, Lord hear our
   prayer") ....

L  Lord hear our prayer
P  And in your love answer.
L  We ask all these things through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who
   lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
   forever. Amen                  
     

* SHARING THE PEACE  We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with
   you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace
   that God gives to those who hear and do his word.

          
* HYMN:  "In The Bulb There Is A Flower"                         - VU 703

          
COMMUNION LITANY
L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to  the Lord.   
L  Let us give thanks to our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

We praise you, O God, in the assembly of your faithful people, for by
your great power you have called us to a rich hope and pledged us a
glorious inheritance among the saints whom you have gathered before your
throne.  In ages past you warned us, through your prophets, of the
terrifying forces arising on the earth, but promised us that your Kingdom
would belong forever to those who embraced your holiness and who walked
in the path of righteousness revealed to us by your Son, Christ Jesus our
Lord.

In him you have given us a spirit of wisdom and revelation, enlightening
the eyes of our hearts to see beyond the struggle of the beatitudes to
the resurrection of all your people, when the hungry will feast and the
mourners laugh, and all will embody the fullness of Christ who fills all
in all. 

In him you have given us - and all the saints before us and those who
will come afer us - the gift of your love and forgiveness, the power of
your sustaining spirit, and the firm foundation of your most blessed
word.  Through him that which is mortal is clothed with immortality, that
which is perishable puts on imperishability, and that which has no honour
becomes worthy of praise.

Wherefore, most loving God - we set before you this table - in praise and
in thanksgiving to you and  to Christ Jesus - who, on the eve of his
death, took bread, and gave you thanks (as we do now give you thanks for
the bread that you give to us), and broke it, and gave it to his
disciples, saying, "take and eat, this my body, broken for you".  We
remember too, how when the meal was over, he took the cup, the cup of
blessing, and having given you thanks, gave it his disciples, saying
"take and drink; this is my blood, the blood of a new covenant for the
forgiveness of sins, poured out for many"...  As often as you do this, do
it in remembrance of me."

Almighty God, whose people are knit together in one mystic communion, we
pray you to send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon this bread and this
cup - that they may be for us the body and the blood of  our Lord Jesus
Christ.  Grant that we may we rejoice in the holy men and women of every
time and place, and with them know your forgiveness and love and grow in
grace as we advance in years.  We ask it in the name of Christ Jesus,
singing together the prayer he taught us....  

THE LORD'S PRAYER (sung)
         
THE SHARING OF THE ELEMENTS: (The elements will be shared in the pews. 
   After you have  received and passed them along, please eat or drink
   prayerfully at the time that seems right to you.  Feel free to join
   in the prayerful singing of "Eat This Bread" which is number 466 in
   Voices United)


CONFESSING THE FAITH OF THE SAINTS: THE APOSTLES CREED
L  With all the saints, let us confess our faith:
         
P  I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
   and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by
   the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius
   Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
         
   He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead;
   he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the
   Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and
   the dead.
          
   I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic Church; the
   communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of
   the body: and the life everlasting.
              

* HYMN:  "Give Thanks For Life"                                  - VU 706


* 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 & THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Jesus,
- and may God give you grace to follow the saints of Christ in faith,
hope, and love, 
- may the living word bloom and grow within your hearts and minds,
- and may the fruit of the Holy Spirit be present in your lives,
both now and forevermore.  Amen


THREE FOLD AMEN & SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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