St. Mary's Church

All Saints Day

All Saints Day

31 Oct 2020 • General news

Revelation 7. 9-end

9After 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, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ 14I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

1 John 3. 1-3

1See what love the Father has given 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. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Matthew 5. 1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This is a reflection for All Saints’ Day, based on Revelation 7: 9 - 17.

Today is November 1st, which is designated in the church’s calendar as the feast day of All Saints. Our readings for today include a passage from the book of the Revelation of Saint John. In the chosen passage, the author has been caught up in the spirit, and is being shown around Heaven by a divine guide. There he meets what he describes as a ‘great multitude’.

It's a funny old book, the Revelation. For most of the first four hundred years of the church’s existence, a fierce debate raged over whether or not it should be included in the Biblical canon at all. It is an example of what is known as ‘apocalyptic’ literature – from a time before the word ‘apocalypse’ came to mean the ‘end of the world’; in fact, it is the Book of Revelation, focused as it is upon the ‘end times’ , which actually caused the word to change its meaning. Originally, the word ‘apocalypse’ meant the same as the word ‘revelation’ – an uncovering or revealing of great secrets or hidden knowledge. In this respect, the Revelation is not perhaps the best example: it is mostly written in coded language, referring to events that the author either witnessed, or had heard about, and the code has been largely lost in the mists of time – making the Revelation today far from revelatory, perhaps the most opaque and obtuse book in the entire Bible – and so today, as all those centuries ago, fierce debate between Christians still rages over the book – not over whether it should be included in the Bible, but now, over what it all means. To give you an example, the book was first brought to my attention when I was a teenager, by a Baptist minister of an evangelical persuasion (this being semi-rural Wales, after all), who swore blind that the star Wormwood, mentioned in the 11th verse of chapter 8, was a clear prediction of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and that the end times were therefore surely upon us (cue much thumping of the lectern!).

Regardless of anyone’s opinion of what the contents of the book might actually mean, however, it cannot be denied that the Revelation contains some of the most poetic language, and the most beautiful, evocative imagery, in the whole Bible. The passage before us now is no exception. The author describes his ‘great multitude’ as being from all tribes and all peoples and all languages, clothed in white, standing before the throne of God waving palm branches and singing a glorious hymn of praise to God. What a fantastic sight.

“Who are these?” is the question that rises next, and the answer he is given is, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal.”

We are often reminded at this time of year that the ‘saints’ are not just people on stained glass windows, or in the pages of the Bible, but that we are all saints – that all Christians are set apart to be holy for God (which is what ‘saint’ means, from the Latin ‘sanctus’). We forget. But as I was writing these words, Coventry had just entered Tier-2 lockdown, with increased restrictions. There is still no sign of an effective vaccination programme, nor of a coherent response to the global threat that still very much affects us. Yet we have faith that God will care for us through it all – because that is the promise he made, through his incarnation as Jesus, a promise which is wonderfully reaffirmed at the end of the passage. This is our great ordeal – and we will come out of it, washed in the blood of the Lamb, clothed in white to sing the praises of our God. John’s ‘great multitude’ is us. We are the saints, and today is our feast day, our celebration, our day to stand up and be counted as the sacred multitude of God. Don’t forget it.

In fact, why not stand up, go and find a mirror, and look into it – and remind yourself that you are gazing upon the face of a saint?

AMEN.

Prayers All Saints Day 1/11/20 [Prepared by Sue Morton]

Rejoicing in the fellowship of all the saints, let us pray.

Blessed God

We thank you that you have called us to share in the inheritance of all your saints, one with you and all your people across the ages.

We remember before you all who have witnessed to your love and mercy.

We ask for your blessing upon all who seek to bring reconciliation and forgiveness to peoples and communities.

We pray for all involved in pastoral work and the ministry of healing, and especially give thanks for the ministry of Frances Tyler who has retired as lead chaplain, South Warwickshire NHS Hospitals.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Blessed God

We remember before you all who have witnessed to your peace.

We ask for your blessing upon the work of the United Nations and all peace-keeping forces in the world.

We pray for all people not at peace with themselves or with the world around them and those suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Blessed God

We remember before you all who have set us an example by their grace and goodness.

We ask for your blessing upon our homes and families.

We pray for all who are suffering from broken relationships and all who are lonely.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Blessed God

We remember before you all who have suffered persecution for their faith.

We ask you to bless those who strive against injustice and evil.

We pray for all suffering tyranny or oppression.

We bring to you those suffering in body, mind or spirit:at home or in hospital or in care homes or hospices or homeless living in desolate places.

In the silence, we come to you as we are.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Eternal God

We come to you as ordinary, everyday people, and yet you have welcomed us into your family.

You have called us to be your Church and you have given us a place among the great company of saints in heaven and on earth.

With confidence, we pray that our loved ones who are gone from us may rejoice in the fellowship of all your saints in glory.

And so, by your grace

Merciful Father

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen


Monday

Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Nov 2, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83011129168?pwd=VkU0bGZQNnhRcDU3V25GcTd5S3d1Zz09

Meeting ID: 830 1112 9168

Passcode: MP211

Tuesday

Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Nov 3, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84051087583?pwd=dlpMcTN5YjlNK1FtWUtrclBKNk9Pdz09

Meeting ID: 840 5108 7583

Passcode: MP311

Thursday

Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Nov 5, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81048477301?pwd=bHBHclpEN0MvblpJVUVEdm02QWVvQT09

Meeting ID: 810 4847 7301

Passcode: MP511