Materials for Worship on 6th November 2022

Peter writes: It is often said that there is no such thing as a lone Christian. Belonging to the Church (in the widest sense of the word) is essential to being a Christian. Through baptism we become members one of another in Christ, part of a company of saints, embracing both those who are alive today and those who already in heaven. Some of them are people whose lives have touched ours; others are known to us solely through history or the Church’s calendar.

The Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (also known as All Souls’ Day) both celebrate this mutual belonging. All Saints’ Day celebrates men and women in whose lives the Church as a whole has seen the grace of God powerfully at work. It is an opportunity to give thanks for that grace, and for the wonderful way it shaped their lives. It is a time to be encouraged by the example of the saints but also to be mindful that God’s grace is present in the lives of ordinary people too. Sometimes this may be shown in the way they faithfully followed in Jesus’ footsteps in everyday situations; sometimes it shone forth in extraordinary crises or times of difficulty.

The Commemoration of All Souls celebrates the departed in a more local and intimate way. We remember with thanksgiving before God those whom we have known: those who gave us life, or who nurtured us in faith. This evening we have an opportunity to name them before God and to give thanks for all that they mean to us.

The death of Queen Elizabeth gave rise to widespread expressions of mourning and grief. The accompanying rituals of the funeral may have allowed people to express a personal grief that had lain hidden within them, perhaps for many years. These rituals are important to our well-being and they are far removed from the ghoulishness of Hallowe’en. It is no accident that All Saints and All Souls fall together in the Church’s year. We celebrate and give thanks for the lives of the saints in light and glory and we also hand into God’s safe keeping those parted from us but whose lives are still dear to us.

In these two days we are celebrating life not death, light not darkness, hope not despair, and love, especially God’s love, from which nothing, not even death can separate us, as St Paul writes in Romans chapter 8.

Prayers: in thanksgiving for the holy ones of God and in faith for his everlasting love and mercy.

For Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors in faith,
and all who journey into the unknown trusting God’s promises:
For Jacob, deceitful younger brother, yet chosen by God,
the father of all who are called not by virtue but by grace:
For Moses the lawgiver and Aaron the priest,
and all who lead God’s people to freedom and newness of life:

For Isaiah, John the Baptist and all the prophets,
and all who speak the truth without counting the cost:
For Mary the Virgin, the mother of our Lord and God,
and all who obey God’s call without question:
For Andrew and John and the first disciples,
and for all who forsake everything to follow Jesus:
For Stephen, Alban, Agnes, Lucy and the whole army of martyrs,
and all who have faced death for love of Christ:

For Columba and Aidan, for Ninian and Patrick,
and for all who have carried the gospel to this and other lands:
For David, Cuthbert and Francis,
and for all who live and teach the love of God:

For the martyrs and peacemakers of our own time,
who shine as lights in the darkness:
For all the unsung heroes and heroines of our faith,
whose names are known to God alone:
For all those in our own lives
who have revealed to us the love of God
and shown to us the way of holiness:
Thanks be to God.

In the silence of your hearts, name those whom you have loved but see no longer.

Jesus said, “This is the will of him that sent me,
that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me,
and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Lord God, creator of all,
you have made us creatures of this earth,
but have also promised us a share in life eternal.
According to your promises,
may all who have died in the peace of Christ
come with your saints to the joys of your kingdom,
where there will be neither sorrow nor pain,
but life everlasting.