All Saints Day

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 115:16)
One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They cried out in a loud voice, saying: Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! These beloved have gone on before us into eternal life. (Revelation 7:9-10).
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely. Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:10)

Gospel feelings resources here.

A Call to Worship for All Saints Day
(Hebrews 12: 1)
We remember, O God…
The countless saints of history
who have blazed a trail of courage through time,
We remember, O God…
The tender touch of loved ones,
the example of heroes,
the healing words of comforters,
the remarkable acts of fearless ones.
We remember, O God…
The gentle strength of grandmothers,
the loyalty of friends,
the kindness of strangers,
the joy of children,
the sacrifice of parents.
We remember, O God…
The supreme love of Jesus,
the blessing of his Spirit,
the reminder of his words,
the sharing of his suffering,
the glory of his resurrection:
shown forth in the lives of his disciples,
young and old,
dead and living,
articulate and silent,
strange and familiar,
brilliant and ordinary.
We remember in every time and place the saints of God
who have shown us the Lord.
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…
let us worship God with joy!
(Desperate Preacher’s website)

Call to Worship for All Saints Day
With thanksgiving on my tongue,
I sing praise for the feet of the saints
who walked this path long before me
who pointed out this path to me
who cleared the path with me.

With thanksgiving on my tongue,
I sing praise for the wisdom of the saints
who shared their vision of God’s ways
who lived faithfully by God’s ways
who loved God all the way.

With thanksgiving on my tongue,
I sing praise for the cloaks of the saints
that sheltered my weary soul from the dust
that marked my life for a new adventure
that gave me some flair for the dance.

With thanksgiving on your tongue,
now sing praise for the voices of the saints
who named God within you
who evoked God from you
who gave God to you.
(Rachel Hackenberg, and posted on RevGalBlogPals)

Call to worship
In all our weakness and strength,
with our youth-filled spirits and aging bodies,
we come to be your people, O God.

Strong in faith and eager with questions,
singing our praise and whispering our prayers,
we come to be your people, O God.

Filled with saintly determination
yet mindful of our human limitations,
we come to be your people, O God.

Made strong in your endless love for us,
we know ourselves to be yours and
we come to be your people, O God.

May we truly become your people today. Amen.
(Seasons of the Spirit: WoodLake Publishing)

All Saints Day
This day, Lord,
We remember
We remember those who have come before
Those known and unknown,
Those imperfect vessels who, like us, sought to embody your grace and love,
Those who received and carried tradition,
And in turn passed it on to us.
May we live like them as faithful disciples,
Inspired by their example,
Receiving their wisdom,
Learning from their mistakes,
And seeking to work with you
To build the communion of the commonwealth of your love.
So hallowed be your name,
Just as it was at times in them,
So may it be in us.
This we pray. Amen.
(source: Jon Humphries)

Prayer of the Day
Eternal God, neither death nor life can separate us from your love: grant that we may serve you faithfully here on earth, and in heaven rejoice with all your saints. Amen.

Prayer of Confession: All Saints
Jesus, lover and friend, you showed us holiness in action through the way you lived your life. You gave away your power in the service of others and turned our understanding of blessedness on its head.
We confess the difficulties we experience in living as you lived and loving as you loved
We confess how easy it is to concentrate on our own pleasures – taking note of the plight of many in the world only as the news momentarily grabs our attention.
We confess our capacity to be so consumed by our own agendas that our concern for the needs of others shrinks all too rapidly.
We confess our failure to act when we see around us weakness, pain, suffering and powerlessness. A time of silent confession
We confess our reluctance to love our enemies and to do good to those who dislike or even hate us.
We confess the ease with which we become conformed to the world’s standards rather than facing the challenge of conforming to those of Christ.
Stir up your Spirit in us, Lord, that we may experience the happiness and blessing of being your disciples in more than name only.
Strengthen us to be people who sing and live your song of love; who willingly serve our neighbours—even those we don’t especially like; who seek justice and mercy for all and who truly repent of what is past and look with anticipation for what is yet to come. This we pray in your name and for your sake. Amen.
Assurance of Forgiveness
“In Christ… when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, you also were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people.” (Ephesians 1: 13, 14)
Hear again the word of truth: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!
(Moira Laidlaw)

The those who have lived before us
Dear Lord,
thank you for drawing us into community
here in this place that has been called home for so many.

Inspire us with the lives of those before us,
those ancient ones who have lived here in faith
and opened up and given away
your love to all those who needed it.

May you change us with a vision to continue here
as a constant presence for those who travel through life,
a community of welcome that cares for all our parish
believing into what is still yet to be.

Teach us to discern your voice
as those before us have discerned your voice,
guided by its call and feeding on its promise
of life and hope and belonging.

May we hear your word:
a comforting word in its familiar sound,
yet a disturbing word in what it speaks anew
and longs for us to become.

Hold us within the faith of our forebears,
those who chose to meet you here in this parish,
who recognised this thin place as a trysting place
where your miracle of grace abides.

May we be moved by that grace
into all the places that make up our community,
sharing what you have given abundantly
like an ever flowing stream.

Call us from our past,
through the voices of our ancestors,
in the songs they have sung
and the prayers they have spoken
that have shaped peace within this parish,

And may we join our voice with their voice,
in the one great song of love
that will be lived and celebrated yet,
throughout this parish.
(Rev. Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Listening to the Stones)

Sermon by Doug Gay, based on lectionary reading Year C (Zacchaeus).

Unlikely Companions
(a reflection on the Gospel, Luke 19:1-10, Zacchaeus, by John van de Laar
It was scandalous then, Jesus:
your inappropriate choice of associations,
your insistence on being with those
who were least likely to be friends of God.
It’s scandalous now, Jesus!
We like to think we’re more gracious than that,
but we still struggle
with who you chose to include.

Yet, you also include us who, if we’re honest,
are just as unlikely,
just as undeserving;
And as we walk with you and work with you
we discover others that journey beside us,
and who find us to be just as much the unlikely companions
that we find them to be;

So, we remember unlikely leaders,
who with few resources and little influence,
make significant contributions to the world;
We remember unlikely healers,
who through little more than their compassion,
bring wholeness to broken and wounded others;
We remember unlikely benefactors,
who, with no wealth to speak of,
give generously to those with even less;
We remember unlikely saints,
who, though tainted and stained, broken and imperfect,
bring sacredness and life to hopeless ones

And as we pray, we celebrate all the Zacchaeuses,
who, like us have been touched by your grace and forgiveness,
and have become your unlikely companions
in saving the world. Amen.

Prayer for Others

(inspired by Hebrews 12:1-3, Luke 1:53, Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28)
In prayer, we brave the presence of the Most Holy.
In prayer we dream, and our dreams are shaped
by the lives of saints who linger in our longing,
by the Winds of Heaven that stir our souls.

On this holy day of memory, O LORD our God,
awaken our dreams and inspire our vision
so that we might see with clear eyes
the hope and fullness of life in you.

We pray for clarity and courage to see that dream
in which the poor are blessed and the hungry full.
We pray for the humility to hear the dream
in which popularity fades and wealth turns to dust.

On this holy day of visions and dreams, O God,
we remember those who have passed from this life . . .
We seek healing and unfailing comfort for those persons
(known and unknown) who are struggling, in pain, in fear . . .

By your mercy and grace, grant us wisdom
for these days of dreaming, of remembering,
and of living into the coming of your future,
strengthened by your witnesses of the past.
(Source: Rachel Hackenberg, RevGalBlogPals)

Prayer: All Saints Sunday
Almighty God,
we thank you for those who have gone on before us,
pioneers in faith and ministry, thought, word and deed.
We thank you for their example of living a Christ like life
We know that they were no more perfect than you and I,
but we all are your children.
Help us to remember when we are running the race of life,
that all these people stand by us, cheering us on, praying for us, and loving us.
Also, Lord in your compassion,
comfort those who are grieving the loss of their saint(s).
Comfort the churches.
Comfort the Pastors.
Comfort your people.
Amen.
(Rev Abi, on Long and Winding Road blog)

A Litany for All the Saints
Saints of days long gone
standing on seashore and mountain top
considered the might of the elements
that you had created
the roar of the wind and waves
the constancy of the tides and seasons.
To them, Lord it was evidence enough
that your creative Spirit was still empowering
this fragile world, encircling their lives
as the very wind and mist
that swirled around them.
We have so little time
to contemplate this world
and complain when wind and rain
conspire to spoil our day
Yet in doing so we often fail
to gain the comfort
and reassurance
that your saints felt in their isolation.
We forget that it was your creative breath
that set this universe in motion
and still moves across the world
Not always predictably
but there to be seen and felt
there to offer the comfort and reassurance
of a God who is constant and eternal.
Thank you, Creator God
for the constancy and ample evidence
of your love for this world
(John Birch, posted on Faith and Worship – Prayers and Resources)

Thanksgiving and Intercession: All Saints
O Lord our God,
we thank you for the many people
who have followed your way of life joyfully:
for the many saints and martyrs, men and women
who have offered up their very lived
so that your life abundant
may become manifest
and your kingdom may advance

Optional sung response

They chose the way of your Son,
our brother, Jesus Christ.
In the midst of trial, they held out hope;
in the midst of persecutions, they witnessed to your power;
in the midst of despair, they clung to your promise.

Optional sung response

O Lord, we thank you for the truth
they have learned and passed on to us.
Give us courage to follow their way of life.
For your love and faithfulness
we will at all times praise your name.

Optional sung response

We pray for the millions in our world who must go hungry today,
all who are exploited and marginalized
because of their caste or class, colour or sex,
that they may not lose their hope,
and may find the strength to struggle for their dignity.

Optional sung response

We call upon you for those who are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured
or threatened with death because of their witness to justice and peace.
For those who have “disappeared” because they dared to speak,
that their spirits may not be broken by their bodies’ pain.

Optional sung response

We remember those who live in regions torn by tension and war,
by disaster, famine and poverty…
We pray especially for the Middle East, for Pakistan, for Haiti,
for the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the horn of Africa, for Sudan …
(other places and situations can be mentioned at this point)

We pray for the millions of refugees around the world,
that in the midst of tears and bitterness
they may discern signs of hope.

Optional sung response

Lord, into your hands we commend our earth,
ever-threatened with disaster,
and all persons and situations we have spoken about,
written down or remembered in the silence of our hearts this day.

Optional sung response

Strengthen our will for peace and justice;
increase our faith in your kingdom
where “love and faithfulness will meet,
righteousness and peace will embrace”
and may your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

(from “Choose Life; Choose Peace with Justice,” in Midday Prayers for Peace and Justice on Hiroshima Day, August, 2010. Posted on the World Council of Churches website)

Remembering
We affirm even though we no longer see their faces, we know they are present. As each name is read, please respond “Present.” (Names of deceased members of the congregation are read out). 

All Saints Day Litany
We remember the great ancestors of our faith,
from Abraham and Sarah, to Paul and Phoebe:
Ancestors of the faith, we remember you.

We remember the prophets and priests,
the ministers and teachers who have taught us the way of God:
Teachers of the faith, we remember you.

We remember our grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles,
those who have gone before us in our lifetime:
Family of our faith, we remember you.

We lift up the memories of children and grandchildren,
brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and parents
whose lives ended too soon:
Those close in our heart, we remember you.

We lift up to You, O God,
the names of those we have lost in this past year from our lives,
knowing that they are with Your heart forever.
As we read these names, we will pause after every name
to remember, pray, and give thanks for their life.

(Reading of the names of those who have died in the past year)

We celebrate the lives of those we have named, O God,
and lift up many more names in our hearts.

Family of God, we remember you, and we honor you.
We know you are with us in the spirit of worship,
and you will not be forgotten.

We give thanks, O God,
for all who have gone on to join with You beyond this life.
We trust in the hope of resurrection and the promise of new life in Christ,
and know that in our grief and celebration, O God,
You are with us through it all, and we are not left alone.
In the name of Christ, in whom love lives forever, we pray.
Amen.
(Rev. Mindi, Rev-o-lution)

Litany for All Saints Day
O Cosmic Christ,
in you
and through you
and for you,
all things were created;
in you
all things hold together
and have their being.

Through Teilhard de Chardin,
scientist of the cosmos,
you imagined a new heaven and a new earth.
Through Teresa of Avila,
charismatic leader,
you inspired a church of courage and wisdom.
Through Mahatma Gandhi,
great soul,
you became nonviolent in the struggle for justice.
Through Catherine of Siena,
fearless visionary,
you forged a new path for women.
Through Meister Eckhart,
creative mystic,
you refused to abandon the inner light.
Through Hildegard of Bingen,
greenness of God,
you poured out juicy, rich grace on all creation.
Through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
drum major of freedom,
you shattered racial barriers
and freed dreamers to dream.
Through Anne Frank,
writer and witness,
you preserved goodness in the midst of great evil.
Through Cesar Chavez,
noble farmworker,
you transformed the dignity of human labor.
Through Harriet Tubman,
prophet and pilgrim,
you led the captives into freedom.
Through Vincent Van Gogh,
artist of light,
you revealed the sacredness
in sunflowers
and in starry nights.
Through Thea Bowman,
healer songbird,
you danced the African-American culture
into the Church.
Through Pope John XXIII,
window to the world,
you awakened awareness to the signs of the times.
Through Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
guardian of the unwanted,
you enfleshed a reverence for all life.
Through Thomas Merton,
universal monk,
you explored the sanctity of every human search.
Through Mary Magdalene,
apostle to the apostles,
you ordained women to proclaim the good news.
Through Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
musician of Holy Mystery,
you bathed the world in beauty.
Through Julian of Norwich,
anchoress and seer,
you showed the Mother image of God.
Through Dom Bede Griffiths,
marriage of East and West,
you unveiled the divine face
at the heart of the world.
Through Joan of Arc,
defender and protector,
you remained true to personal conscience
over institutional law.
Through Rumi,
poet in ecstasy,
you illuminated friendship as mystical union.
Through Maura Clarke and Companions,
martyrs of El Salvador,
you rise again in the hopes of the dispossessed.
Through Rabbi Abraham Heschel,
Hasidic sage,
you answered our search for meaning
with wonder, pathos for the poor, and Sabbath rest.
Through Dorothy Day,
pillar of the poor,
you recognized holiness as bread for the hungry.

O Cosmic Christ,
in your heart
all history finds meaning and purpose.
In the new millennium,
in the celebration of jubilee
help us find that which we all seek:
a communion of love
with each other
and with you, the Alpha and Omega,
the first and last,
the yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
the beginning without end.
Amen

(Written by Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, executive director of Alliance of International Monasticism, which links 200 Benedictine and Cistercian communities in the developing world with those in the United States. She is also director of development and communications for the Benedictine sisters of Erie, PA. She is the author of Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryokan. Posted on the Spirituality and Practice website)

Prayer of Remembrance: All Saints Day
Living God, in whom there is no shadow or change, we thank you for the gift of life eternal, and for all those who having served you well, now rest from their labours.

We thank you for all the saints remembered and forgotten, for those dear souls most precious to us.

Today we give thanks for those who during the last twelve months have died and entered into glory. We bless you for their life and love, and rejoice for them “all is well, and all manner of things will be well.”

God of Jesus and our God, mindful of all those choice souls who have gone on ahead of us, teach us, and each twenty-first century disciple of every race and place,
· to follow their example to the best of our ability:
· to feed the poor in body or spirit,
· to support and comfort the mourners and the repentant,
· to encourage the meek and stand with them in crises,
· to affirm those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
· to cherish and learn from the merciful,
· to be humbled by, and stand with, the peacemakers.

Let us clearly recognize what it means to be called the children of God, and to know we are to be your saints neither by our own inclination nor in our own strength but simply by the call and the healing holiness of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Amen!
(Bruce Prewer)

Candle lighting
Members of the congregation are invited to light a candle at the front of the church as a memorial to a person who has died. The candles may be lit before the service, during the singing of a hymn or at the time of communion (if included)

We are ourselves borne on the shoulders of others – a vast communion of saints, past, present and to come. We are a wonderfully rich and varied family of faith
– that prays for us when we can no longer pray for ourselves
– that believes for us when our own faith falters
– that supports us in times of weakness
– that enlightens us in hours of darkness
– that embraces us in moments of despair
– that endures even in the face of the gates of hell.
(Rev David Gill, Secretary of the UCA Assembly, 1980-88)

Sermon
Nadia Bolz Weber – a sermon for All Saints Day (including an audio link), based on the Beatitudes

Prayer by Janet Morley
For all the saints who went before us who have spoken to our hearts and touched us with your fire, we praise you, O God.
For all the saints who live beside us whose weaknesses and strengths are woven with our own, we praise you, O God.
For all the saints who live beyond us who challenge us to change the world with them, we praise you, O God.

A ‘finishing’ to prayers of intercession/prayers for others
God of the generations,
when we set our hands to labor,
thinking we work alone,
remind us that we carry
on our lips
the words of prophets,
in our veins
the blood of martyrs,
in our eyes
the mystics’ visions,
in our hands
the strength of thousands.
(Jan L. Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook)

Closing prayer
We praise and bless you, God of Life.
Bless us with your presence each day of our lives.
We have seen you and have felt your presence
in the history of your people.
God, be present in our history,
in our communities
and be part of our lives.
With love and mercy, you have cared, led, inspired and sustained
your daughters and sons in all generations.
Shine within us, inspire us,
use us to make visible your peace, justice and truth.
You, who are holy for all eternity
sanctify our lives with your blessing.
(Adapted from the liturgy of the Reformed Church in Mar del Plata. Printed in Renewing the Church: Resources for Celebrating Reformation Sunday, published by World Alliance of Reformed Churches)

This from Andy Wade, Director, Godspace…..
“Celebrating the Goodness of God with All the Saints” was the theme for the 25th Annual Celtic Prayer Retreat. We spent quite a lot of time thinking about the great cloud of witnesses which surrounds us, not just those who have gone before but also those who walk with us today: friends, pastors, authors, activists, and the like. These people have shaped our lives and nurtured us through both crises and celebrations.
Our closing worship on Sunday morning was focused again on this great cloud of witnesses, but with a twist. We began by looking at the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy:
I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NRSV)
For our first time of reflection we looked at how Paul acknowledges his faithful ancestors and then challenges Timothy to connect with his own, saying “The faith of your grandmother and mother now lives in you”. We then asked the question, “Who can you name in the circle of witnesses in your life?” taking time for each of us to quietly name and thank God for each one’s foundation of faith and ongoing witness in our lives.
With this foundation we then jumped back to Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes:
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. Matthew 5:1-12 (NLT)

For this time of reflection I challenged us to go back through the Beatitudes, one by one, with those in our personal “cloud of witnesses” in mind, specifically asking “Who has been an example for me in each of these beatitudes?” We then thanked God for their faithful example, and asked God how we might be an example to others in this area.
This turned out to be a much more profound exercise than I had anticipated. For some of the Beatitudes there was a quick and obvious person or persons who came to mind. For other Beatitudes it was more of a struggle. Why is that? I wondered. How have the cloud of witnesses in my life shaped who I am and the Beatitudes I live into more fully… or ignore?
Our final reflection combined the two passages, asking:
What would it look like in my life to “fan into flame” or “rekindle the gift of God” in the areas specifically mentioned by Jesus in the Beatitudes?
What are 2-3 action steps I can begin this week to move closer to Jesus’ call in the Beatitudes and the entire Sermon on the Mount?
How might this enhance my ability to more fully love God and Neighbor?
Paul mentions to Timothy that “God doesn’t give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” How do my practices today shape my life so that I can be among that cloud of witnesses for those who come after me?
I had never thought of approaching these two passages quite like this before but as I prepared the Sunday worship service God prompted me to take another look, from the side, and see just how influential our cloud of witnesses truly is… and our place in that story for others.

wade cloud of witnesses

ALL SAINTS DAY C
PSALM 149
Faithful God, as your people, we gather together to praise your Holy Name.
We gather as one people, to sing today’s special songs of praise to our God.
Renewing God, as your people, we give thanks for our renewed faith in you.
We gather as one people, to celebrate today’s renewal of our faith in our God.
Reconciling God, as your people, we gather to learn again the lessons of being
reconciled to our past and present, to each other, and to you, our Generous God.
We gather as one people, to listen and learn from each other; from our teachers; and from the Holy Word, what is God’s guiding and healing message to us this day. Amen.
(Source: Joan Stott)

PRAYERS OF PRAISE & THANKFULNESS
On this day when we remember with thanks to God, the faithfulness of the witness of all the saints and martyrs who have gone before us, showing the way to committed and faithful living, by their trust in God’s own merciful faithfulness.
As people who are part of our Faithful God’s family here, we gather together to
praise God’s Holy Name; and as one people, to sing today’s especially new song
of praise to our God. We have had so many blessings in the past, but today, we are
here to give thanks and to praise God for today’s new blessings. We rejoice in the
blessings of people’s faithful prayers and witnessing, and especially for those people
who have influenced us in our faith journey; and we give thanks their own faithfulness.

Renewing God, as your people here in this place and time, we give thanks for our
own renewed faith in you, and that you have so blessed us with today’s new insights
and understandings of what it means to be your child, your beloved in the faith. It is
because of this personal blessing, that we can gather together as one with others of
your committed people to be further nurtured in our faith and witness, and to celebrate
today’s renewal of our faith in our God. We gather together too, to hear again your call
to us to witness and service amongst your needy children; and the care of your creation
which is being spoiled by the selfishness and greed of humanity, each one of whom was
created in God’s image. Forgive us our failings and renew us and the whole of creation.

Reconciling God, as your called and commissioned people, we gather to worship and
praise you as we again learn the lessons of being reconciled to our often painful past;
and to our present situation with all its challenges. You have called us to live in harmony
and in reconciled relationships with each other, and with you, our Generous God; and we
praise you and give thanks that you trust us with your message of hope in our local and
faith communities; and that you give us the courage and strength to fulfil that mission.
We gather as one people, to listen and learn from each other; from our faithful teachers;
and from the Holy Word, what is God’s ever-relevant guiding message to us each new day. Amen.
(Source: Joan Stott)

A PERSONAL MEDITATION
Psalm 149 is the psalm chosen for ‘All Saints Day’, on the day we honour all those
heroes of the faith who are referred to three times in our psalm as being the “faithful”.
Professor Brueggemann names this as a “problematic” psalm, because in the first
half it follows the usual pattern of psalms that praise God as King, and are known
as ‘Enthronement’ Psalms’; but, in the second half it changes drastically with these
words:“…Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands…”
That theme of violence and warfare continues almost to the end of the psalm, when
the psalmist claims “…This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones. Praise the
Lord!” It may almost be standard practice to only read this psalm’s first six verses
in worship and private meditation, leaving unread the last half of the psalm. You may
also be uncomfortable about these words as being a glorification of violence and war.

Creative pause: Do you only read the ‘good/appropriate’ parts of the Bible?

What is the real message of the last half of this psalm? Old Testament Professor
Emeritus Fred Gaiser*, of the Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA writing
in 2013 in the Textweek website offers a different perspective. The early part of
the psalm reads thus: “…Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his
praises in the assembly of the faithful. O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people
of Jerusalem, exult in your King. Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by
tambourine and harp….” Gaiser wrote: “…the dance described in the psalm seems
to have resembled the ritualised war dance of native tribes more than the gracious
movements of young women and men in a church chancel…: The connection of
Psalm 149 to tribal dance is appropriate. Israel, too, was a tribal culture, and its
worship would have expressed those traditions, including enacting ritualised victories
over real and mythic enemies. Such ritual victory anticipated and celebrated God’s
own ultimate victory over wickedness, and preparing the present congregation to
recognise and share in the working out of God’s justice and righteousness in the
present….” 1 Whatever is your own cultural heritage, if you were able to include any
of that heritage within or into your worship, would that be helpful to you spiritually?

Creative pause: “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song…”

Later, Gaiser went on to say: “…praise was by no means a retreat from the world;
it provided hope, encouragement, motivation, and support to the congregation to
join with God is gathering the outcasts, healing the broken hearted, and lifting up
the downtrodden. Healing the world is serious work – God’s work, of course – and
those who are called first to praise that divine work and then to participate in it will
need metaphorical and sometimes perhaps real two-edged swords…” 1Jesus always
acted to bring healing to people in all of life’s circumstances, as a visible sign of the
Reign/Kingdom of God is active in the world bringing wholeness to needy people. The
caring healing we offer people will be different to that of Jesus, but it is still healing!

Creative pause: Through your loving and living – you, too, offer healing!
(Source: Joan Stott)

Music
Courage In Struggle
(MP3 here)
Let us praise the saints of courage in struggle.
Widows and orphans in our fatherless world.
They slave night and day – take care of each other.
And so become the children of God.

We will rejoice with people of spirit –
The Christ in our house and Muhammad next door.
They cannot boast of status or riches –
But they will inherit heaven on earth for sure.

Let us praise the saints of courage in struggle.
Brothers and sisters in our families at war.
They embrace the pain – of the folk who suffer.
And so embody the love of God.

We will rejoice with people of spirit –
The Christ in our house and Muhammad next door.
They cannot boast of status or riches –
But they will inherit heaven on earth for sure.

Blessed are the women who show compassion.
Blessed are the men who are kind.
Blessed are the children who seek reconciliation.
Blessed – all those who try!

We will rejoice with people of spirit –
The Christ in our house and Muhammad next door.
They cannot boast of status or riches –
But they will inherit heaven on earth for sure.
(c) Dave Andrews

Songs of Faith that Sings Forever
(Simple tune and beautiful image of people throughout generations, alive and dead, taking up a song together; I think this would be particularly good for congregations and communities facing difficult times “And when life would overwhelm us, when there seems no song to sing, hear the constant voice of courage out of fear and suffering” – Natalie Sims, Singing from the Lectionary)
Song of faith that sings forever
through God’s people, ages long,
Word that holds the world together
when our hearts take up the song,
always, always, somewhere sounding,
though the source we do not see,
counterpoint to all despairing,
it is hope that sets the key.

Song of faith in exaltation,
rising through the vaults of prayer,
tune of simple celebration
offered up in open air,
song in chapel and cathedral,
descant to our daily tone,
song from sickbed or in prison,
faith must often sing alone.

And when life would overwhelm us,
when there seems no song to sing,
hear the constant voice of courage
out of fear and suffering:
all who’ve loved and trusted Jesus,
all who lift us to be strong,
endless, endless are the voices
of the faith that makes the song.
(words: Shirley Erena Murray; music here; Scriptural Reference: Hebrews 11:1-18, 10, 20-40)
Music PDF: songs-of-faith-that-sings-forever

For all the saints who’ve shown your love (John Bell)
(These beautiful lyrics are some of the best words about All Saints’ Day that I’ve come across. There are two tunes for this hymn, and two slightly different sets of lyrics. Love From Below uses the tune “ALL SAINTS” which is a John Bell original. A nice tune, but not familiar, although not hard to learn at all. The Gather hymnals publish a slightly different version of the lyrics, sung to the tune O WALY WALY which is the tune for “The water is wide”, so much more familiar. Natalie Sims, Singing from the Lectionary). The words below are set to O Waly Waly.

For all the saints who’ve shown your love,
in how they live and where they move.
For mindful women, caring men,
accept our gratitude again.

For all the saints who loved your name,
whose faith increased the Savior’s fame.
Who sang your songs and shared your word,
accept our gratitude, good Lord.

For all the saints who named your will,
and showed the kingdom coming still.
Through selfless protest, prayer and praise,
accept the gratitude we raise.

Bless all whose will or name or love
reflects the grace of heaven above.
Though unacclaimed by earthly powers,
your life through theirs has hallowed ours.

Heaven and Earth are filled 
(A beautiful, meditative chant about the great cloud of witnesses; very simple. The sheet music includes the string part – Natalie Sims).
(This might be sung several times while candles are lit, introduced by a singer and then invite people to join in). 

Heaven and earth are filled
with the light of the saints
who have gone on before us
shining around us still
as we’re running this race
grateful the path is lit for us.
(c)2015 Hand and Soil Music
Soundcloud recording here. Link to sheet music to purchase here (scroll down to section titled, ‘not on any album yet’). 

 Rejoice in God’s saints today and all days! TiS 470
(Great words about all the different saints and the importance of remembering them. The 2nd verse mentions “some carry the gospel through fire and through flood”. Works well to the tune PADERBORN, but would be even simpler sung to LAUDATE DOMINUM which would be more familiar – Natalie Sims)

Sing for God’s Glory (Tune: ‘Lobe den Herren’, 14 14 4 7 8. 111 TiS)
(possibly a song for gathering)
Sing for God’s glory that colors the dawn of creation,
racing across the sky, trailing bright clouds of elation;
sun of delight
succeeds the velvet of night,
warming the earth’s exultation.

Sing for God’s power that shatters the chains that would hold us,
searing the bleakness of fear and despair that would mold us,
touching our shame
with love that will not lay blame,
reaching out gently to find us.

Sing for God’s justice disturbing each easy illusion,
tearing down tyrants and putting our pride to confusion;
lifeblood of right,
resisting evil and slight,
offering freedom’s transfusion.

Sing for God’s saints who have travelled faith’s journey before us,
who in our weariness give us their hope to restore us;
in them we see
the new creation to be,
spirit of love made flesh for us. (KathyGalloway)

‘God and man at table are sat down’ (Robert Stamps)
* “In Christ there is a table set for all” is much more inclusive than the old “God and man at table are sat down”.
This hymn expresses the radical, political hospitality of God that Jesus described at his meal with the Pharisees.

O, welcome all you noble saints of old,
As now before your very eyes unfold
The wonders all so long ago foretold.
God and man at table are sat down*.

Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;
Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round,
What angels longed to see now we have found.
God and man at table are sat down*.

Who is this who spreads the vict’ry feast?
Who is this who makes our warring cease?
Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace.
God and man at table are sat down*.

Beggers, lame, and harlots also here;
Repentant publicans are drawing near;
Wayward ones come home without a fear.
God and man at table are sat down*.

Worship in the presence of the Lord,
With joyful songs and hearts in one accord,
And let our Host at table be adored.
God and man at table are sat down*.

When at last this earth shall pass away,
When Jesus and his bride are one to stay,
The feast of love is just begun that day.
God and man at table are sat down*.
(c) 1972, Dawn Treader Music

We sing for all the unsung saints
(The set tune is not familiar, and a little bit tricky. Could work with ELLACOMBE or KINGSFOLD instead – Natalie Sims)
We sing for all the unsung saints,
that countless, nameless throng,
who kept the faith and passed it on,
with hope steadfast and strong,
through all the daily griefs and joys
no chronicles record,
forgetful of their lack of fame,
but mindful of the Lord.

Though uninscribed with date or place,
with title, rank, or name,
as living stones their stories join
to form a hallowed frame
around the mystery in their midst:
the Lamb once sacrificed,
the Love that wrested life from death,
the wounded, risen Christ.

So we take heart from unknown saints
bereft of earthly fame,
those faithful ones who have received
a more enduring name:
for they reveal true blessing comes
when we our pride efface
and offer back our lives to be
the vessels of God’s grace.
(Words: Carl P. Daw, Jr. © 1994 Hope Publishing Co)

As Stars Adorn the Night-Veiled sky

As stars adorn the night-veiled sky,
arrayed like jewels rare and bright,
so shine God’s saints in every age
to give the world new hope, new light.

The light saints bear is not their own
but shines through them as gift and sign:
to show how God can use and bless
frail human means for ends divine.

Through saints we glimpse the light of Christ,
the Morning Star that crowns the night,
whose rising heralds God’s new day,
the promised dawn of life and light.

That light is ours to claim and share,
not merely praise or gaze upon:
for all who are baptized become
light-bearers through the Risen One.

The saints inspire and challenge us
our holy calling to embrace:
to bear Christ’s light in our own day,
to be the vessels of God’s grace.
(Carl P. Daw, Jr., © 1997 Hope Publishing Company)
Music: as-stars-adorn-the-night-veiled-sky
Suggested tunes: All Saints Torresdale, David Hurd; Tallis Canon – Thomas Tallis

God, We Thank You for Our People
God, we thank you for our people, roots dug deep within the soil,
Hardy spirits, rich in loving, strong for struggle, bold for toil.
Faithful Rock of generations, you whom parents’ parents praised:
Here in hope as we remember may our song to you be raised.

Thank you, God, for gentle pleasure: lessons learned and secrets told,
Hopes and mem’ries saved as treasure, passed to young ones by the old, Pranks and glories, songs and stories, food by loving hands prepared.
God, we bless you for your presence in our tears and laughter shared.

Still we must confess before you, sometimes, Savior, we have failed;
Though we worship and adore you, sometimes love has not prevailed. Tempers racing, devil chasing, hearts estranged by ice or flame
You transform by ways forgiving, Grace amazing! Grace, your name!
(Words: Ruth Duck, Sung to Hyfrydol)

Sing Of The Saints Who Were Loved And Made Beautiful,
Marnie Barrell and Colin Gibson in in Alleluia Aotearoa. #120.

Sing of the saints, who were loved and made beautiful,
chosen to show us the richness of grace,
gentle, disturbing, determined and dutiful,
calling us onwards and setting the pace.

Sisters and brothers in endless variety,
each with a marvellous story to share,
reach their full stature in Heaven’s society,
grown from the seed by God’s infinite care.

Love raised them up from confusion and vanity,
helped them withdraw from attachment to sin,
entered their hearts to affirm their humanity,
claimed and drew forth all the treasures within.

See how they followed through every adversity,
Christ their beloved, their goal and their guide,
giving their lives in transparent simplicity,
ready to suffer and stand at his side.

Long may their stories, alive in our history,
show us the source of their wonderful powers,
pointing the way to the heart of the mystery,
drawing us closer to their God and ours.

For all the Saints
Marnie Barrell writes, “A few years back I took the liberty of writing an amended version of “For all the Saints”, since many of our congregation enjoy singing it but have reservations about some of the theology, language and imagery. In case anyone’s interested, here’s my alternative version.”

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
who to the world their faith in God confessed,
your name, O Jesus, be forever blessed, alleluia!

You were their leader, true unfailing light,
column of cloud by day and fire by night,
known in the dark by faith, though lost from sight, alleluia!

So may your people still their footsteps trace,
fired by their triumphs in the well-run race,
longing with them to see your glorious face, alleluia!

Soon dawns the promised day of Christ our Lord
when all creation rises up restored,
and all our song, from heart and soul outpoured: “Alleluia!”

From every age, from dawn to setting sun,
home come the saints to God the Three-in-One,
bringing eternal praise on earth begun, alleluia!

W.W. How (1823-87), revised by Marnie Barrell 1992

Sing with all the saints in glory
Carl P Schalk
Music: Lagrange new

Sing with all the saints in glory, sing the resurrection song!
Death and sorrow, earth’s dark story, to the former days belong.
All around the clouds are breaking, soon the storms of time shall cease;
in God’s likeness we awaken, knowing everlasting peace.

Oh, what glory, far exceeding all that eye has yet perceived!
Holiest hearts for ages pleading, never that full joy conceived
God has promised, Christ prepared it, there on high our welcome waits
Ev’ry humble spirit shares it, Christ has passed the eternal gates.

Life eternal! Heav’n rejoices: Jesus lives who once was dead.
Shout with joy, O deathless voices! Child of God, lift up your head.
Life eternal! Oh what wonders crowd on faith, what joy unknown
When, amid earth’s closing thunders, saints shall stand before the throne.

Blessed are the Poor Among You
PROMISES (“Standing on the Promise”)

Blessed are the poor among you, Jesus said.
Blessed are you hungry ones who long for bread.
Blessed are you mournful when your tears abound.
God is turning everything around.
Hear the good news!
God is giving you the kingdom and the laughter.
God will fill you…
And you will know the joy that overflows.

Blessed are you weary who are long oppressed,
All because you follow God in faithfulness.
Leap for joy, for God will give you life anew.
Long ago, the prophets struggled, too!
Hear the good news!
God is giving you the kingdom and the laughter.
God will fill you…
And you will know the joy that overflows.

Woe to all you rich who live with blinders on,
Feasting at your tables till the food is gone.
Woe to you who laugh and live without a care,
Woe! when people praise you everywhere.
God has spoken:
You have all received your joy and consolation.
I was hungry…
But did you share what God had given you?

God, your way of working is a great surprise!
Help us all to see your world through faithful eyes.
Only in your kingdom is our true joy found.
By your Spirit, turn our lives around!
Yours is good news!
You have offered us the kingdom and the laughter.
Please, God, fill us,
And we will know the joy that overflows.

Tune: R. Kelso Carter, 1886
Text: Copyright © 1998 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

Handout prepared for ‘all play’ worship at Pilgrim, 30 Nov 2016, all-saints-day

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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