Liturgy of the Word for All Saints, November 1, 2020

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A note about the structure of this webpage:

This page is set up to enable you to participate in the Liturgy of The Word, during which you will hear the sermon in its natural liturgical context; or you can scroll down the page to hear the stand-alone sermon webcast accompanied by the written text.

You can also view our return to eucharistic worship by clicking here.


Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here. Podcasts produced by Christian Tulungen.

The Prelude: Variations on “Sine Nomine” by Denis Bédard (b. 1950), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

The Episcopal Office for Government Relations resources to meet the challenges of the election time.

The Introit: Introit by Iain Quinn (b. 1973), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 48 “O day of radiant gladness” (vv. 1, 4), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 O day of radiant gladness, O day of joy and light,
 O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright;
 this day the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
 sing "Holy, holy, holy" to the great God Triune.

4 That light our hope sustaining, we walk the pilgrim way,
 at length our rest attaining, our endless Sabbath day.
 We sing to thee our praises, O Father, Spirit, Son;
 the Church her voice upraises to Thee, blest Three in One.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 278, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

The Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

The First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17, read by Melinda DelCioppio

Psalm 34:1-10, 22, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
     his praise shall ever be in my mouth.   
2 I will glory in the LORD;
     let the humble hear and rejoice.   
3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;
     let us exalt his Name together.    
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
     and delivered me out of all my terror.   
5 Look upon him and be radiant,
     and let not your faces be ashamed.   
6 I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me
     and saved me from all my troubles.   
7 The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,
     and he will deliver them.   
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
     happy are they who trust in him!   
9 Fear the LORD, you that are his saints,
     for those who fear him lack nothing.   
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger,
     but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.
22 The LORD ransoms the life of his servants,
     and none will be punished who trust in him.

The Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3, read by David Whitman

Hymn 302 “Father, we thank thee” (v. 1), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Father, we thank Thee who hast planted
 Thy holy Name within our hearts.
 Knowledge and faith and life immortal
 Jesus Thy Son to us imparts.
 Thou, Lord, didst make all for Thy pleasure,
 didst give man food for all his days,
 giving in Christ the Bread eternal;
 Thine is the pow'r, be Thine the praise.

The Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12, proclaimed by Mark+

Hymn 302 (v. 2)

2 Watch o'er Thy church, O Lord, in mercy,
 save it from evil, guard it still.
 Perfect it in Thy love, unite it,
 cleansed and conformed unto Thy will.
 As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
 was in this broken bread made one,
 so from all lands Thy church be gathered
 into Thy kingdom by Thy Son.

The Sermon: Linda+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
        and has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Praised Be the Lord” by Maurice Greene (1695-1755), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

The Prayers of the People: led by Mark+

The Lord’s Prayer, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants
give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable
love in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such
an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you in
holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn 343, “Shepherd of souls” (vv. 1, 4), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
 thy chosen pilgrim flock
 with manna in the wilderness,
 with water from the rock.

4 Lord, sup with us in love divine,
 thy Body and thy Blood,
 that living bread, that heavenly wine,
 be our immortal food.

The Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Toccata (Toccata, Villancico y Fuga) by Alberto Ginastera (1916-83), Steven Young, organ

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.


Stand-Alone Sermon Podcast:

Blessed Saints

Fra Angelico: Fiesole Altarpiece, Convent of San Domenico

The Rev. Linda Mackie Griggs

“Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?”

Blessed are the Saints!

The sentimental (some would argue sappy) hymn, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” reminds us that we are surrounded by saints; the Big S Saints who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew, and for the little s saints who we meet every day in church or in trains or in shops or at tea. During the three-day observances of All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls the Church celebrates the bond between those in heaven and those on earth—the deep bond of fellowship that unites all of the children of God, past and present.

Today is a big deal.

All Saints is one of the seven (yes, seven!) Principal Feasts of the Church. A Principal Feast is a special observance that takes priority over any other festival or commemoration. It’s like a super-charged Sabbath, when we lay aside our work and our day-to-day concerns and just stop for a time of worship and praise. The other stuff will still be there tomorrow, but for today we celebrate.

What are the seven (yes, seven!) Principal Feasts? Christmas and Easter are the obvious ones, but of equal value in the eyes of the Church are Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity– and All Saints.

What strikes me about these feasts, in contrast with most of the other observances in the Church Year, is that Principal Feasts are celebrations of relationship. Think about it; you can see the relationship between God and Humanity in the Incarnation, the Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost and Epiphany. The coequal relationship of God within Godself is celebrated uniquely in the Feast of the Trinity. The relationship between things earthly and things heavenly is seen at All Saints. We can argue about which feasts celebrate which kinds of relationships because there are fine distinctions and overlap in virtually all of them, but the point is that Principal Feasts are all about interweaving, engaging, and interrelating; and these are all things that define God and community.

At All Saints our community honors the relationship between life and death; indeed All Saints calls us to erase the boundary between the two entirely.

A colleague told me recently that someone had asked, “Why do we pray for the dead?” And he responded, “They’re not dead!” Which was a brilliant response, because, whether we think about it on a day to day level or not, that is what we, as Christians, believe.

Our journey is not from birth to death but from life to life.

“They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center 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.”

Our journey is not from birth to death but from life to life; returning at the end to the God who loved us into being, and taking our place in the great cloud of witnesses that upholds, supports, and sustains us on our earthly walk.

What does that support and sustenance look like, and what does that mean for us now, as children of God in a chaotic world? There are different perspectives, which aren’t mutually exclusive, and often depend on the religious tradition in which we’ve have been rooted. For example there are those whose relationship with the saints is one of connection; they take deep comfort in the solidarity and witness of those who served, suffered and died in the faith—those, known and unknown, who knew the joy and cost of following Jesus. They feel a sense of communion with someone with whose joys and struggles they identify.

Others see the saints, especially the Big S Saints, as those who intercede for us when we pray to them. But praying to saints is a misnomer, and it has been the source of misunderstanding since the Reformation. We don’t pray to saints so much as we pray with them. Theologian Patricia Sullivan notes that the idea of praying to a saint for intercession can sound as though God needs to be persuaded or instructed to do what God already knows we need. This misinterpretation builds saints up at the expense of God, which is something the early reformers feared and opposed. Rather, Sullivan says, “When we ask a saint to intercede for us, what is happening at a deeper level is that we are taking refuge in the all-enfolding community of the redeemed, approaching God thru [sic] saintly symbols of Christ’s victory and of our hope…The value of our petitions is that they turn us in confidence toward the God who loves us, allowing God’s work to be more effective in us, and thru [sic] us in others.”

In other words, praying with the saints doesn’t turn God toward us; it turns us towards God. It opens our hearts to God’s work in us, and thus to God working through us as we do the healing work we are called to do in the world.

So no matter how we choose to connect or engage with the great Cloud of Witnesses, on this Feast of All Saints we are invited to acknowledge both the saints’ hold on us, and their call to us.

Blessed are the Saints!

Blessed.

In other words, praying with the saints doesn’t turn God toward us; it turns us toward God.

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls our attention to saints among us; hidden in plain sight.

He told his disciples, blessed are the poor in spirit, the grieving, the meek, the strivers for justice, the merciful, the compassionate, the peacemakers. Blessed are those who know the high cost of discipleship and keep paying it anyway.

Jesus saw saints everywhere. He saw a continuum of saintliness as it reached from earthly suffering to heavenly reward. He saw blessedness in the struggle and holiness in the vulnerable. And he called his disciples into his Kingdom vision, addressing them directly: Blessed are you when your ministry is reviled and persecuted, because you, believe it or not, are saints.

“Blessed are you, you saints.”

A couple of years ago Nathan LeRud of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon updated the Beatitudes for our time. This is part of it:

“Blessed are you when you are depressed and anxious…

Blessed are you who are messed up and scared and vulnerable…

Blessed are you for whom loss, death is not an abstraction…

Blessed are you who are afraid for your kids…

Blessed are you who long to see justice, and blessed are you who have ceased giving a damn…

And blessed are you who have the courage to say “I am not okay,” for you will inherit the earth.

Blessed are you when people call you saints, and blessed are you when they call you things that I can’t even repeat.

Blessed are you when you show up to the glorious mess that is your life, for you are God’s saints, and to you belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Blessed, this day, are the Saints we revere, the Saints with whom we pray, the saints we mourn. Blessed are the saints among us, and the saints within us. Amen.

If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to

DONATE HERE.

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

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