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notre dame montreal Lectionary Worship Resources

Worship Resources, Prayers, Bible Study

Ordinary 31 Year A, All Saints

 


all saints iconIntroduction

This Sunday the readings etc are used for All Saints

Opening Verses of Scripture Psalm 90:14

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who ear Him, and he delivers them.


Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Common Worship

God of holiness, your glory is proclaimed in every age: as we rejoice in the faith of your saints, inspire us to follow their example with boldness and joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Common Worship Shorter Collect

Eternal God, giver of love and peace, you call your children to live together as one family. Give us grace to learn your ways and do your will, that we may bring justice and peace to all people; in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen


First Bible Reading  Revelation Chapter 7: 9-17

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 in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:  "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 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, saying:   "Amen!  Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength  be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?" 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. 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 spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre 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."

Second Reading  1 John 3: 1-3

How great is the 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. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Gospel Reading  Mathew 5: 1-12

Now when he 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.  

Post Communion Sentence

God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things: may we who have shared at this table as strangers and pilgrims here on earth be welcomed with all your saints to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Commentary

Who is in the Communion of Saints?
As early as the second century, Christians gathered for worship at the tombs of the martyrs, celebrating the power of God’s grace in the lives of these faithful men and women. From this came the early understanding that the phrase ‘the Communion of Saints’ referred to the enduring bond between the faithful on earth and the faithful who had gone before, especially those whose witness was crowned with martyrdom. While all Christians are properly called saints, the word “saint” soon became a title of honour referring to exemplary lives among the faithful, and most notably the lives of martyrs. The celebration of saints as we know it (i.e. those who served God but died in the faith rather than for the faith) comes later, about the 7th century. Egbert of York brought the festival to England and by the 9th century it had become a major feast in the church calendar in England. Today, we continue to celebrate a Communion of Saints that embraces all Christians, past present and future; including those whose lives are not necessarily like us, or whose lives are not notably marked by saintliness! ‘We live among saints but saints are not perfect. Their weaknesses and strengths are woven into our own’. But together we are part of that great community God calls His saints.

The inextricable link between holiness and the Communion of Saints
All Saints' Day is also known as All Hallows' Day, hallow meaning to make holy, consecrate and honour. The theme of God’s holiness permeates the entire Bible and as human beings we are invited to participate in the holiness of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. To be holy is to participate in the holiness of Jesus who is “the way, the truth, and the life”. The Communion of Saints, the communio sanctorum, implies, first of all, communion, communion with Christ and through Him and the power of the Holy Spirit, communion and a relationship with our God, who is all holy.

Our own holiness starts then with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the mediator of all holiness. Our holiness also entails being in communion, part of our journey with one another and all the saints who have gone before us. Holiness therefore implies relationships; relationships which sometimes make it feel like it’s very difficult to be holy! But however challenging some of our relationships seem, it’s impossible to be in communion alone. God’s own holiness is part of being in communion, a communion of Father, Son, and Spirit dwelling together in love. To enter into a relationship with God is to enter into a relationship with all who share in that same fellowship of God; past, present and future. Jut as we are called into a relationship with God, we are called into a relationship with each other, the Communion of Saints, the Priesthood of all believers.

Our relationship and fellowship with Christ and with one another will never be complete in this life, but is emphasised and strengthened as we together draw closer to him and to one another, and will be perfected in eternity. Together we are in union and communion with all the faithful saints, and as Christians we are called to live out that unity and communion, whatever our denomination or race or background. One of the statements from the Second Vatican council expressed this unity and communion as ‘…that among all the nations of earth there is but one People of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly and not an earthly nature. For all the faithful scattered throughout the world are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit.’ We live in faith with all those who have gone before us, we, like they are on a journey of faith, a pilgrimage which leads to God. Jesus takes us as we are, with all our diverse backgrounds, perspectives and relationships, takes us even though we often feel far from holy, and, invites us to be holy, as He is holy, and to join with Him in the communion of saints.

Our Holy Communion links our holiness, our sainthood, to our daily experience. We start the Eucharist with contrite hearts, confess our sins, receive God’s forgiveness and pray the Kyrie Eleison. We listen to the words of scripture from the bible and through the sermon. We confess our faith and give thanks to God in prayers and intercessions. We receive from God the body and blood of Jesus and together are sent out with the task of renewing the earth. Communion is not the end but the beginning of mission, mission as a Community of Saints, made whole and made holy through God and His gifts. Sam Cappleman
 

Meditation

Mark Twain is supposed to have said,
"It's not what I don't understand about the bible that bothers me, but what I do understand."
The teachings of Jesus are remarkable for their simplicity and perhaps no more so than when Jesus tells us that to love God with all of our heart soul and mind is the greatest and first commandment. Jesus' teaching today is straight forward and we require reminding rather than explanation of what he means. God should be the goal of our deepest love and this should not deprive our other loves of intimacy or importance.
Rather since we define ourselves by who and what we love, our souls are enriched or diminished by the objects of our affection. To love God and concern ourselves with loving God above all things keeps our lives in perspective, it also enriches us above all things. We become more in the image of God, the more we love God. It is therefore true that our devotion to God brings quality to the other loves in our life, which are inevitably deepened as we learn more of what it is to love and be loved by God.
 

Hymns

  1. Come let us join our cheerful songs

  2. O happy day

  3. For all the saints

  4. I will sing the wondrous story
     

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian, if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die.

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead
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 into our own,
We praise you, O God

Who challenge us to change the world with them,
We praise you, O God
Janet Morley
(in Bread of Tomorrow, Christian Aid and SPCK, 192, 2004)

O Lord, in every age you reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart, and from every race you write names in your book of life, give us the simplicity and faith of your saints, that loving you above all things, we may be what you would have us be, and to do what you would have us do. So may we be numbered with your saints in glory everlasting. Amen.

Father God, you have brought us near to the spirits of those who have been made perfect, and to an innumerable company of angels; grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to abide in their fellowship, and in the heavenly country to become partakers of their joy. Amen

Lord God, we thank you for calling us into the company of those who trust in Christ and seek to obey His will. May your Spirit guide and strengthen us in mission and service to your world; for we are strangers no longer but pilgrims together on the way to your Kingdom. Amen Prayer of the Inter Church Process (The Swanwick Declaration)

May almighty God grant you to be numbered with the saints in glory everlasting; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Additional Material

The last day of October marks the beginning in the church of a period known as Hallowtide 'All Saintstide' when Christian remember those who have died. All-Hallows Eve, or Halloween, October 31 has Celtic origins being originally the feast of Sanhain/Samhain,(pronounced 'sow'inn) the last night of the Celtic year, when all kinds of spirits were thought to be active. The Celts believed that this was a time when the boundary between the spirit world and the earthly world is at its thinnest and when spirits are most likely to be seen on earth. It was a night of danger signifying the change from Autumn to Winter, it was a night when feasts were held for the dead and animals killed for the Winter. On this night fires were lit in the belief that light had power over darkness, hence pumpkin lanterns to frighten away witches and ghosts. When the Romans invaded Britain they included elements of their harvest celebrations in which they honoured the goddess of the fruits of trees, Pomona. Children still play games with apples at this time of year.
So when did Sanhain become Halloween? By the 9th century Christianity had spread into Celtic lands and the celebration became known as the Eve of All Hallows and eventually Halloween.

All Saints Day, (All Hallows) November 1
The word Hallow means 'Holy', (blessed, consecrated or set apart in a special way) and so 'All-Hallows' or 'All Saints' refers to the Saints—the Holy Ones. Those who died for their faith or who lived extraordinary lives. This day dates back to the 5th century Antioch in Syria when the church dedicated a day to the memory of all those who had been killed for their faith. Until then the church had remembered martyrs on special days of the year, but there became more martyrs than days in the year, and there were some whose names were not known. In Rome Boniface IV (608-615) had relics of martyrs moved from the catacombs to the Pantheon. In 835 the 1st of November was given the title 'All Saints.'
St. Martin of Tours is represented by a cloak which he cut in half to give to a shivering beggar
Catherine of Alexandria is shown with a spiked wheel
St. Sebastian usually holds an arrow—as a reminder of the terrible methods of their respective martyrdoms.
The saints are our ancestors on earth and precede us in heaven. Many Christians experience a strong sense that the saints are still with us, and that they watch over us and pray to God for us. The prayer from Methodist Worship at the bottom of this page expresses the idea of knowing their fellowship with us. Although dead, they are members of Christ's Church and we use this day to give thanks for the lives of all the saints as they are examples to us. Saints are created as signs of hope, that the gospel really can change lives. Somebody is not made a saint at canonisation, it is rather an acknowledgement that somebody was a saint and is therefore in heaven and not neglectful of the needs of the world, through the communion of saints.

All Souls Day, November 2
In the New Testament, 'saint' is often used to describe all those who are followers of Christ, the people called to holiness in him. Not just those who were extra-specially good. So does this apply to Christians now? Are all saints? The answer must be Yes! So on this day we pray not just for those who have been specially recognised as Saints, but for all of our loved ones. In 1048 Odilo, the Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery at Cluny near Paris instructed his monks to use this day as a day of remembrance and prayer for all the departed, this day was made official in the 14C.
In the Christian Church we remember the Church not just as those who are living but also those who have died, they are just as much the church as we are and the Christian Church has two names for this, those who are living are called the church militant, and those have died are called the church triumphant.

This time of year is an important time to cherish the memory of those who have died and who have gone before us. As we celebrate their memory we can know and be glad that they share with us in Christ's eternal kingdom. People find the whole idea of death difficult and to have a special day to remember those who have died is not an easy thing for some people. At this time in the year of the church we can really think and speak about those who have died and not in hushed tones. We can remember and feel our loss. We celebrate the lives of those whom we have known and love and we pray for their peace.


Holy God you have called witnesses from every nation and revealed your glory in their lives. Grant us the same faith and love that, following their example,
we may be sustained by their fellowship and rejoice in their triumph; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Methodist Worship)

All Saints’ Sunday

All Saints’ and preparing for the season of Advent belong together, as the celebration of All Saints’ reminds us of the judgement of God. The Saints who stand before the throne of glory have also stood before the throne of judgement. Whilst we sometimes think of Saints in terms of spiritual giants who lived many years ago, the biblical understanding of a Saint is someone whom God has sanctified and made holy. For the Old Testament people of God, this meant belonging to God’s Chosen People, the Jews, to be a son of Abraham as Jesus puts it in the Gospel reading. For New Testament believers and beyond, it means belonging to the Body of Christ, a people made holy through Jesus’ sacrifice - and being a Saint has implications as to the way we live our lives. ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light - 1 Peter 2 v 9. As Christians we are both caught up in "so great a cloud of witnesses," whilst also watching, waiting, for the coming again of Christ, when all things shall be gathered up into the Kingdom of God. All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, as hallow means to make holy, to consecrate or to honour, and it’s from the name All Hallows' that we derive Hallowe'en (the Eve of All Hallows). Throughout the year the church commemorates specific saints, but on 1st November we commemorate and celebrate all saints and thus God's mercy and love for us too. This celebration of saints started around the the 8th century when Pope Boniface IV designated 1st November as All Saints' Day to specifically honour those saints that didn't have a special day of their own. By the 9th century it had become a major feast in the church calendar in England and continues today. Although All Saints Day is actually 1st November, the church celebrates All Saints’ Sunday today. In England "All Saints" is the second most popular dedication of English churches with over 1250 churches dedicated to All Saints. All Souls' Day, also known as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, comes the day after All Saints’ Day. This day provides an opportunity to commemorate "those we have loved but see no longer” and recognises the pain of human grief and fragility in a way that an All Saints' Day celebration cannot. It is for this reason that we always have a special service of commemoration of the faithful departed at this time of year. Our service will take place at 3.00pm on 14 November at St Mark’s Church. Sam Cappleman

Prayers

O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence. Amen

Lord God, fear comes in many guises into our lives. It is legion: the fear of the unknown which blights our vision, the fear of pain which narrows our world, the fear of failure which challenges our confidence. In this time of tragedy, In this time of anger, In this time of grief, In this time of doubt, come to us as the Father who stands alongside, as the Son who brings hope, as the Spirit who brings healing.

We pray for those who think evil actions are justifiable and those whose hearts and minds are hard against humanity. Stop them when we cannot, forgive them when we cannot. Transform them when we cannot. Prepare us for the world ahead, to work for peace, to strive for justice, to change our ways and to receive the gifts of grace and courage and faith. For Christ's sake. Amen.