Morning Service for All Saints' Day

HYMN - For all the saints - NEH 197 - Sine Nomine

1 For all the Saints who from their labours rest,

Who thee by faith before the world confest.

Thy name, O Jesu, be for ever blest.

Alleluya! Alleluya!

2 Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;

Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;

Thou in the darkness drear their one true Light.

Alleluya! Alleluya!

4 O blest communion! fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.

Alleluya! Alleluya!

7 But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;

The Saints triumphant rise in bright array:

The King of glory passes on his way.

Alleluya! Alleluya!

8 From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,

Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,

Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Alleluya! Alleluya!


PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have left undone.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

THE COLLECT

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


FIRST READING - 1 John 3.1-3

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. 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. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

HYMN - Who are these like stars appearing - NEH 231 - All Saints 

1 Who are these, like stars appearing,

These before God's throne who stand?

Each a golden crown is wearing;

Who are all this glorious band?

Alleluya, hark! they sing,

Praising loud their heavenly King.

2 Who are these of dazzling brightness,

These in God's own truth arrayed,

Clad in robes of purest whiteness,

Robes whose lustre ne'er shall fade,

Ne'er be touched by time's rude hand--

Whence comes all this glorious band?

3 These are they who have contended

For their Saviour's honour long,

Wrestling on till life was ended,

Following not the sinful throng;

These, who well the fight sustained,

Triumph through the Lamb have gained.

4 These are they whose hearts were riven,

Sore with woe and anguish tried,

Who in prayer full oft have striven

With the God they glorified;

Now, their painful conflict o'er,

God has bid them weep no more.

5 These like priests have watched and waited,

Offering up to Christ their will,

Soul and body consecrated,

Day and night to serve him still:

Now, in God's most holy place

Blest they stand before his face.

GOSPEL - Matthew 5.1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

SERMON

Today we think about Saints – special people – on All Saints’ Day we think about Saints whose names are not remembered specifically, but whose sanctity is none the bit less for that.  Such people are called saints because they managed to live their life without putting themselves first – they understood the needs of others and the love of God – and put their response to both before themselves.

You can’t always tell who saints are.  It’s easy to get it wrong.  

A family of five were enjoying their day at the beach.  The children were bathing in the ocean and making castles in the sand when in the distance a little old lady appeared.  Her grey hair was blowing in the wind and her clothes were dirty and ragged.  She was muttering something to herself as she picked up things from the beach and put them into a bag.

The parents called the children to their side and told them to stay away from the old lady.  As she passed by, bending down every now and then to pick things up, she smiled at the family.  But her greeting wasn’t returned.

Many weeks later they learned that the little old lady had made it her lifelong crusade to pick up bits of glass from the beach so children wouldn’t cut their feet

The saints in some way each demonstrate that human beings can reach beyond themselves, and, in a sense, leave themselves behind – in the service of others, in the service of God.  Each faith has its saints, they aren’t restricted to Christianity.  It is a part of how we were created - to be able to turn the natural order of things on its head.  To walk into the dens of Lions because to do anything else would be to deny the grace of God; to risk one’s life because another’s need must be met.  

Saints are people energised and transformed by forces beyond themselves.  Transformed to forget themselves, to see only the God they serve, and his glory all around them.  Such vision tends to transform things – and people.

The sannyasi had reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, “The stone!  The stone!  Give me the precious stone!”

“What stone?” asked the sannyasi.

“Last night the Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,” said the villager, “and told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find sannyasi who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.”

The sannyasi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone.  “He probably meant this one, “he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager.  “I found it on a forest path some days ago.  you can certainly have it.”

The man gazed at the stone in wonder.  It was a diamond, probably the largest diamond in the whole world, for it was as large as a person’s head.

He took the diamond and walked away.  All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep.  Next day at the crack of dawn he woke the sannyasi and said, “Give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily.”

Saints are detached enough from the world not to be fooled by its delusions.  They know that the values of God are not the ones we run our world by.

They know that Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of God, Blessed are the hungry, Blessed are the sad, Blessed are the hated.  And for we who are none of those things, we must learn what the absence of wealth, happiness, affection is all about – we must learn what it is to be empty, what it is to be turned upside down, and learn in the turning that God’s kingdom does not run on the assumptions of our world.  That the response to hate is love, not more hate, that the response to need is gift and that the response to violence cannot always be more violence.  

They even know how important it is to pick up glass on the beach.

HYMN - How bright these glorious spirits shine - NEH 227 - Beatitudo

1 How bright these glorious spirits shine!

Whence all their white array?

How came they to the blissful seats

Of everlasting day?

2 Lo! these are they from sufferings great

Who came to realms of light,

And in the blood of Christ have washed

Those robes that shine so bright.

3 Now with triumphal palms they stand

Before the throne on high,

And serve the God they love amidst

The glories of the sky.

4 Hunger and thirst are felt no more,

Nor sun with scorching ray:

God is their sun, whose cheering beams

Diffuse eternal day.

5 The Lamb, who dwells amidst the throne,

Shall o'er them still preside,

Feed them with nourishment divine,

And all their footsteps guide.

6 In pastures green he’ll lead his flock

Where living streams appear;

And God the Lord from every eye

Shall wipe off every tear.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.               
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

INTERCESSIONS - Katherine Royle

Let us pray: - Thank you, Father, for giving us your word through the Bible. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit enabling us to have understanding and guidance, comfort and joy through your presence and your teaching.

Help us to be thankful and appreciate the beauty of your creation. Strengthen our sense of responsibility in caring for the environment. Please influence governments around the world to work together to make plans and create laws to protect our planet. 

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and all those in government positions around the United Kingdom as they seek to control the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, and manage our withdrawal from the European Union. We ask that you give them unity, wisdom and insight as they juggle with the risks to both the health of the population and the economy.

We pray for people who have lost their jobs or business. We think of families where relationships are under strain because of uncertainty and isolation. Please comfort those who are lonely, depressed or anxious and people who are grieving the loss of loved ones.  Help us to be sensitive to the difficulties and needs of others and to support them with our prayers and with our actions. We ask that you give us tolerance and patience in our own reactions to inconvenience and difficult circumstances. Please forgive us when we fail.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for William and all those who work so hard in this benefice to give us the  opportunity to worship together, either in our church buildings or online.  

We thank you for our freedom of religion in this country. Help us not to take this blessing for granted and to remember Christians in other parts of the world where meeting to worship you or sharing their faith with others puts them in grave danger of persecution. We ask that they will know your protection and provision. Please strengthen their faith and give them hope and encouragement.

Lord in your mercy  hear our prayer.

At this time of so much uncertainty help us not to forget that you never change. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in we can always trust that you are with us. Thank you that your word remains constant, your promises are never broken and your love for us does not waver. We place our loved ones and each day of this coming week in your hands.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, 

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. 

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive 

those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

BLESSING
May God give to you and to all those whom you love
his comfort and his peace, his light and his joy,
in this world and the next;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you and remain with you always. 
 Amen

HYMN - He who would valiant be - NEH 372 - Monks Gate

1 He who would valiant be

'Gainst all disaster,

Let him in constancy

Follow the Master.

There's no discouragement

Shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.

2 Who so beset him round

With dismal stories,

Do but themselves confound--

His strength the more is.

No foes shall stay his might,

Though he with giants fight:

He will make good his right

To be a pilgrim.

3 Since, Lord, thou dost defend

Us with thy Spirit,

We know we at the end

Shall life inherit.

Then fancies flee away!

I'll fear not what men say,

I'll labor night and day

To be a pilgrim.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen