1st November is All Saints’ Day and it falls on a Sunday in 2020.
As Rev. Geoff McKee says in today’s sermon: “This is a day of hope in the midst of a relentless pandemic.”
The Lectionary readings for All Saints’ Day are Revelation 7:9-17 and Psalm 34:1-10, 22; and 1 John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12.
The main text is from Revelation, the final Book of the Bible. Again, according to Geoff: “There is no more challenging book in the Bible than the book of Revelation.”
Geoff explains how the structure of Revelation must be understood before we can extract its full meaning. And how the particular section of the Book – about The Great Multitude in White Robes – can help us to find hope even in a world which may sometimes appear to us to have no future.
This post contains the usual materials: Lectionary readings; prayers; audio sermon; and a musical selection from Kath.
Lectionary Readings for this week
Revelation 7:9-17 (New International Version)
The Great Multitude in White Robes
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
1 John 3:1-3
3 See what great love the Father has lavished on 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. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Give joyful thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share the heritage of God’s people, in the realm of light. Colossians 1:12
Living God, this is a day of blessedness, when we take the opportunity to come together, in your presence, by your Spirit, even to the very house of God, to give thanks for your goodness and grace.
This is a day when we pause, to take note, to see and know what’s around us, and to give thanks for your many blessings.
We are blessed with life, the living, breathing life which is your gift to us.
We are blessed with creation, the beauty and wonder of which is beyond our comprehension.
We are blessed with love, the ability to give love, and the joy of receiving it.
We are blessed with the Church, with the community of God’s faithful people, with whom we are bound and in which we have our place.
We are blessed with the Gospel, with the salvation won for us by your Son, Jesus Christ.
Living God, we are richly blessed, and so we pause and give thanks for your goodness and grace.
But above all and beyond all, in all and through all, we are blessed by your love – a challenging love; a rebuking love; a healing love; an accepting love; a forgiving love.
So we are blessed again when we can confess our fallings, and hear your words of love, “Arise sinner, and sin no more.”
So, as your cloak of blessedness is cast around us once again, may we be drawn closer to you in the warmth of your Spirit.
As the light of your blessedness shines upon us today, may we rise, wakeful and watchful, to share that blessedness with those around us.
As the peace of your blessedness restores our very soul, may we rest in you, knowing our blessedness is deep and secure.
These prayers we bring you, in and through the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
God of all blessedness, we turn to you now with our prayers for others, seeking your blessing on all for whom we pray.
You tell us: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. So we pray for those whose spirit fails them, that they might be strengthened in their faith; for those whose poverty is physical, that they might have an equal share in the fruits of your kingdom; for those whose outlook on life is poor, that they might have a glimpse of hope and purpose.
You tell us: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. So we pray for all who are cast down by grief – from recent losses or a deep-seated sorrow over many years – that they might know the comfort of hope, the comfort of love, the comfort of new life.
You tell us: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. So we pray for leaders and followers, for big people and little people, for the proud and the humble, that in acceptance and grace, we might work together for the good of all.
You tell us: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled. So, we pray that we, who seek to live in that very righteousness, might indeed be filled with wonder and joy in this very place.
You tell us: Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. So, let us forgive others that we might know and understand the true meaning of forgiveness.
You tell us: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. So, make our hearts pure within us, that we might know your love all the more.
You tell us: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. So we pray for all who work for peace: peace in relationships; peace in communities; peace in politics; peace in places of conflict; peace for the body, mind and soul … that all might see themselves and others as God’s children.
You tell us: Blessed are those who are persecuted … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. So we pray for the broken and despised, the marginalised and the downtrodden, the victims and the dispossessed, the refugees and the homeless … this kingdom, your precious kingdom, belongs also to them. And as we pray for others, we pray also that you will hold us always in communion with the saints of all the ages, those who have been blessed and whose memories, example and closeness bless us, even at this present time.
We pray in the name of Jesus, our loving Saviour, who taught us to pray together…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
The hymn lyrics “For all the Saints” was written in 1864 by William Walsham How, an Anglican Bishop. Ralph Vaughan Williams set it to a stirring melody in 1906 (Sine Nomine) . It is a triumphant hymn and very much like a processional. It originally had 11 verses!
The opening verses are about praising God for all the saints, who by faith “fought the good fight” and “finished the race” throughout their earthly lives and are now celebrating the ultimate joy of life eternal with our Lord in heaven.
I love this hymn as it reassures us that we are all one in Christ, whether we are here on earth or with all the saints in heaven.