Revelation 7:9-17 – John’s apocalyptic vision of white-robed martyrs standing before the throne and the Lamb, along with the angels, the elders and the four creatures. They hunger no more, nor thirst (Isaiah 49:10). The sun does not strike them nor heat (Psalm 121:6). God wipes away every tear (Isaiah 25:8). ELW 422, 423,
Psalm 34:1-10, 22 – I will bless the Lord at all times… I sought the Lord and he answered me… Taste and see that the Lord is good. ELW 493
1 John 3:1-3 – See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God…
Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. ELW 728
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. They are before the | throne of God, and the one who is seated on the throne will | shelter them. Alleluia. (Rev. 7:15)
The first Sunday in November in our congregations is All Saints Sunday. It is traditional to remember the saints of the congregation who have passed away in the last year. Often a pillar candle is lit on a retable, or on the altar as their names are read. Many congregations also invite members to come forward and light candle in remembrance of loved ones.
While many use the white votive candles in glass cups, as in the picture above from Grace, Conroe, even in the best of circumstances, paraffin wax finds its way on the table, floors and pews, as during Christmas. There is another option. A St. Gregory Palamas Greek Orthodox Monastery in Perrysville, Ohio makes beeswax candles. You can purchase a pack of 50 for $16.50. They can be lit and places in small boxes or jars of sand. The link is here: http://sgpm.goarch.org/Monastery/?p=389
If you’d prefer the former, Sacco’s in Houston sells ten-hour disposable votive candles in plastic cups $35 for a carton of 100. Beat the rush. http://saccoscom.x-shops.com/product.php?productid=19317&cat=508&page=1.
My post this week is a bit different. Rather than digging into the text, I’m offering a guided meditation that can be used. I don’t do this for sermons often, but All Saints seemed like a good time to offer a guided meditation. This meditation is simply a series of questions that invite worshippers to reflect on the saints in their lives.
Who are Your Saints?
Who are your saints?
Who went before you?
Who were the looming giants of your childhood?
Who held your hand?
Who taught you to walk?
Who cupped your cheeks in their hands and kissed your face?
Who picked you up when you fell down and bandaged your hurts?
Who are your saints?
Who taught you to pray?
Who taught you right from wrong?
Who brought you to the baptismal font?
Who placed a Bible in your hands?
Who first taught you the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”
Who first taught you, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me…?”
Who taught you to see flowers and trees not as things, but as beautiful mysteries?
Who taught you to see majesty in clouds, and sunsets and oceans?
Who taught you to soak up the rainy days?
Who taught you kindness to strangers?
Who taught you to love your enemies?
Who taught you not to judge others, or look down your nose at others?
Who taught you that it is better to give than to receive?
Who taught you to love your neighbor as yourself?
Who taught you to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and in prison?
Who taught you to care for those who are hungry, broken, lonely?
Who taught you that Jesus was the reflection of the immortal God?
Who are your saints?
Who taught you to love?
Who taught you to give of yourself, in order to discover what life was about?
Who taught you the virtue of self-sacrifice?
Who introduced you to the God that lurks beneath the surface of life?
Who taught you that life is more than just a sequence of events?
Who taught you there was more to life than going to work, and accumulating wealth and things?
Who taught you it was okay to fail? That falling down is a part of life?
Who taught you to get up, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse?
Who are your saints? Light a candle.
Who taught you to do what you love?
Who helped you discover your true gifts in life, and develop them?
Who loved you when you could not love yourself?
Who showed you grace and forgiveness you did not deserve?
Who taught you to forgive, and let go of grudges?
Who believed in you when you did not believe in yourself?
Who are your saints?
Who taught you to hope beyond this life?
Who taught you that there is more to life than meets the eye?
Who taught you to imagine what lies beyond the veil, around the bend where you cannot see?
Who waits for you beyond the grave?
Who whispers to you in your dreams, and in your prayers?
These are the ones we remember today.
These are the ones for whom we light our candles.
The communion of saints, who wait for us on a distant shore we cannot see over the horizon.
The multitude of apostles, prophets, martyrs and saints.
Even the flawed, deeply flawed saints.
So let us say our prayers and light our candles.
For the saints we remember.
For the saints that we barely remember, from times that are only a misty memory.
And the saints that we cannot remember at all.
For those we knew, and those we never knew, countless generations before us.
For those who loved, before our parents were alive, whose love brought us into being.
For those who wait for us with joy.
Who from their labors rest.
And let us look once again with the eyes of a child.
At a world of mystery that is larger than life.
Larger than we can imagine.
Higher than we can reach.
Deeper than we can see.
And let us live in the hope,
Of one day being reunited with those whom we love.
On that day when we awaken.
Like babies, being born again, opening our eyes for the first time.
Taking our first breath, in a world we cannot begin to understand.
Embraced and loved by those whom we can almost see, as through a mirror dimly.
But one day, face to face.