Morning Service for All Saints’ Sunday

HYMN Immortal, invisible God only wise  NEH 377/AMR 372 – St Denio

1. Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

Most blessèd, most glorious, 

the Ancient of Days,

Almighty, victorious, 

thy great name we praise.

2 Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,

nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;

Thy justice, like mountains 

high soaring above

Thy clouds which are fountains of 

goodness and love.

3 To all life thou givest–to both great and small;

In all life thou livest, the true life of all;

We blossom and flourish like leaves on the tree,

Then wither and perish—

but naught changeth thee.

4 Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,

Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;

All praise we would render; O help us to see

‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

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


We recall our Lord’s command to love and in a moment of silence we confess 

the many ways we fail to keep his command:

Most merciful God, 

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.  Amen

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


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 – Isaiah 25.6-9

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations;

he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces,

and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.

This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

HYMN Dear Lord and father of mankind NEH 353/AMR 184 – Repton

1 Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways!

Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives thy service find,

In deeper reverence praise.

2 In simple trust like theirs who heard,

Beside the Syrian sea,

The gracious calling of the Lord,

Let us, like them, without a word

Rise up and follow thee.

3 *O Sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee

The silence of eternity,

Interpreted by love!

4 Drop thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of thy peace.

5 Breathe through the heats of our desire

Thy coolness and thy balm;

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, 

wind, and fire,

O still small voice of calm!

GOSPEL – John 11.32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”


In St John’s Gospel the raising of Lazarus is the last and greatest of the signs performed by Jesus. It is also, according to John, the immediate cause of Jesus’ death, for it finally convinces the religious leaders of Jerusalem that they must be rid of him.

It is an extraordinary story, told very carefully by the writer of the Gospel, and in great detail – we hear of geography, where people were, we hear of people’s feelings, we hear of their thoughts, misconceptions and beliefs – it really is a very full account, we only heard a quarter of it this morning. It clearly matters to John, and he uses it to convey a crucial part of what he believes.

In some ways the dramatic heart of the story is not so much Jesus calling Lazarus from the tomb, but the detailed description of Jesus’ feelings and emotional state.

The famous phrase, the shortest verse in the King James’ Bible, ‘and Jesus wept’, is usually described as showing Jesus’ compassion for either Lazarus or his family, or for showing the humanity of Jesus when confronted by the finality of death and the awful sadness of loss.

The verse two verses before that one would seem to bear out that interpretation.  

‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.’ 

It would seem that Jesus is just very upset, natural enough one would think.  

There is, however, a problem with all that.  I won’t go into the Greek, that’s too much of a turn off, but suffice it to say that there is an alternative way to read it. Instead of ‘he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved’ we could have: 

‘he became angry in spirit and very agitated’.  

The phase is the strongest statement of Jesus’ emotions in the whole of the New Testament.  So strong indeed that English translators have consistently weakened it.

So what was the reason for such anger?  And why does it matter?  

It matters because it changes the whole emphasis of what John is trying to to tell us.  This isn’t Jesus’ compassion over the human condition, this is Jesus’ anger over the failure of those who said they believed to comprehend what that might mean.  

It is rage against the difficulty people have, even his own followers, in believing that he could transform their hopelessness into joy, and their lifelessness into everlasting life.  Hence all that talk with Martha about what she believes the resurrection to be about.  After this statement of faith Jesus doesn’t move an inch, rather he waits for Mary, who when she finally arrives repeats Martha’s complaint about his delay and then begins to weep, or rather she wails.  

And we would say, ‘why not?’ her brother’s just died.  But Jesus is no caring counsellor here, this inconsolable grief is not the way it should be.  He is resurrection and life – now – to all who will believe in him now.  The life Jesus came to bring cannot transform those who will not believe in it.  How could it, not this side of the grave anyway?  And we are talking about this side of the grave.  Jesus offers life in this life – new hope, new heart, new spirit.

And so Jesus – in this reading of the passage anyway –  is angry, inside, and then he weeps, or better to say, he cries to himself, it’s not the same word as Mary’s wailing.  And the people about him misunderstand, they think he is crying for Lazarus, and wonder why he didn’t heal him.  

But we, John’s readers, know that he can’t be crying for Lazarus, he knows that he is about to bring him from the tomb.  And once again John tells us that Jesus was ‘deeply moved’ or as we have said, ‘angry within’.

No Jesus doesn’t weep for his dead friend, Jesus weeps for the misery of the world that will look no further than the end of its nose, and see no more than what hits it in the face.  Jesus weeps for the dead alright, but it isn’t Lazarus, it’s the dead all around him.  The dead that refuse the gift of life, that are not yet ready to receive the breath of God that will bring them to life in hope, in faith and in resurrection joy.  All they must do is to believe in him.  But that is a leap too far. We are still talking here about life in this life.

This story is not a judgement on the sadness we feel when someone we love dies, but it is a plea for those who believe in Christ to live the joyful consequences of that faith. Not necessarily in merriment, and perhaps through tears, but nevertheless in acknowledgement that our Lord is living bread, and living water, is indeed the resurrection and the life of all who put their trust in him.  He is hope embodied, enfleshed, and will guarantee a sure hope for all who will hope in him. 

And that surely is a message for this time, as it is for all time. It is for us to live that message in the hope we offer to others, in our willingness to serve others, in our response to the challenges in our lives.

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

HYMN Oft in danger, oft in woe NEH 434/AMR 291 – University College

1 OFT in danger, oft in woe,

Onward, Christians, onward go;

Bear the toil, maintain the strife,

Strengthened with the Bread of Life.

2 Onward, Christians, onward go,

Join the war, and face the foe;

Will ye flee in danger’s hour?

Know ye not your Captain’s power?

3 Let your drooping hearts be glad;

March in heavenly armour clad;

Fight, nor think the battle long,

Victory soon shall tune your song.

4 Let not sorrow dim your eye,

Soon shall every tear be dry;

Let not fears your course impede,

Great your strength, if great your need.

5 Onward then in battle move;

More than conquerors ye shall prove;

Though opposed by many a foe,

Christian soldiers, onward go.


Almighty God, we thank you for all your saints who have worshipped you, worked for you and suffered for you. May they be an example to us all today, that we may serve you generously and always to the best of our individual abilities. 

We thank you for the churches here in our benefice, and for all the people who work leading services and behind the scenes in our benefice churches and communities.  Especially we thank you for the chance to unite in your name and worship here together today.

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Loving God, we give thanks for all you have created and we acknowledge the responsibilities you have placed upon us as stewards of your creation.  May the Holy Spirit inspire all political leaders at COP26 as they seek to embrace the changes needed to foster a more sustainable society.  May they walk with you at their side when they choose their way in negotiations and may they steer away from self interest to work for the common good.  

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer.

God of Peace, bring healing and peace to the nations in conflict, where there is political instability and where Covid still rages through the population. Protect those who are poor and hungry and give them hope. Help each one of us to strive for peace in our own lives, families and communities – may we all be quick to forgive and slow to condemn and may we love our neighbours as ourselves.

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Merciful God, we pray for all who suffer in body, mind and spirit, for those who bear burdens of pain, bereavement, anxiety and depression and for those who have no hope for their future. We pray that they may be aware of your presence and your help in bearing their burdens. 

We pray for those known to us who are in particular need of your love and healing, and bring before you …………

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer. 

We pray for those whose hearts have been saddened by the death of someone close and dear to them, for members of our families who have died and whose anniversaries we recall. Help us to experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit within us, and the fellowship of the church family around us, until we are reunited once more in your heavenly kingdom.

Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer. 

We thank you for all those people who have helped us on our journey of faith and who are no longer with us. Not only for your saints recognised by the church, but also for those dear to us who taught us your word, inspired us by their example and encouraged us to keep going when we felt like giving up. May we cherish their memories and carry on their work. 

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.

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  For all the saints – NEH 197/AMR 527 – 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!

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