We meet for worship as the gathered and scattered people of God.
We celebrate Christ Jesus, the light of the world. Thanks be to God!
We also acknowledge that where each of us live is on the land of the Dharawal people.
We acknowledge their 40,000 years of ongoing stewardship of God’s Creation
We pledge to be ambassadors of reconciliation, justice and peace.
You are all welcome, as we worship God this day.
CHRIST CANDLE Darkness is strong, but light is stronger. Christ is the Light of the world and not even death has overcome His light. Praise be to God whose light gives hope to all the world.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Christ calls us here to gather in the presence of the Spirit, who makes us God’s own.
We come in humility, joining with the people of God in all times and places.
Let us be centred in Christ as we worship.
HYMN – TIS 182
Celebrate, in parable and story, holiness in glory
Living, loving God.
Hail and hosanna, bring many names!
Strong mother God, working night and day
Planning all the wonders of creation, setting each equation
Genius at play:
Hail and hosanna, strong mother God!
Warm father God, hugging every child
Feeling all the strains of human living, caring and forgiving
Till we’re reconciled:
Hail and hosanna, warm father God!
Old, aching God, grey with endless care
Calmly piercing evil’s new disguises, glad of good surprises
Wiser than despair:
Hail and hosanna, old, aching God!
Young, growing God, eager, on the move
Saying no to falsehood and unkindness, crying out for justice
Giving all you have:
Hail and hosanna, young, growing God!
Great, living God, never fully known
Joyful darkness far beyond our seeing, closer yet than breathing
Hail and hosanna, great living God!
Brian Arthur Wren 1936 – Copyright Hope Publishing Co USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
INTRODUCTION – Today is All Saints Day, (last night All Hallows-eve) celebrated since 7th C.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Holy God, you have brought us into the realm of salvation, teaching us the ways of loving justice.
You turn us upside down with your values that contradict the prevailing wisdom of our times.
You call us to be servants and to be meek of spirit.
You call us to identify with those who have little power.
You call us to serve and not to count the cost.
Oh God, we find it hard to follow this way because it is so different from the ways of our world and from so much of what we have learnt and too often lived, in your world. Forgive us.
In our times of weakness, strengthen us, we pray. In our times of doubt, grant us wisdom.
In our times of despair, guide us into your future, for we depend on your strength and wisdom. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
God is faithful and true, always present and full of love.
With the confidence that has sustained the saints for generations I declare: our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God! Amen
Revelation 7:9 - 17(NRSV)
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, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They 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 worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I 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.”
HYMN – TIS 455 vs 1, 2 & 8 start at 1min 14
Who to the world their Lord by faith confessed
Your name, O Jesus, be for ev-er blessed.
Hal–le –lu–jah, hal–le –lu-jah!
You were their rock, their fortress and their might
You were their captain in the well fought fight
In deepest darkness still their one true light.
Hal–le –lu–jah, hal–le –lu-jah!
From earth’s wide bounds and ocean’s farthest shore
Through heaven’s gate the holy people pour
The Three in One for ever they adore.
Hal–le –lu–jah, hal–le –lu-jah!
William Walsham How 1823 – 1907 By Permission Oxford University Press
Matthew 5:1-11 (NRSV) The Beatitudes
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught 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 receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
REFLECTION God’s blessed saints
Tradition says that the book of Revelation was written by St John on the Island of Patmos during the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Domitian in the 90’s CE. It is full of what we now call apocalyptic writing where through coded word and imagery, believers would find words of hope amidst what was happening in the world. A fervent and rich imagination also helps! And for those who love looking for hidden meaning then phrases like the ‘four horseman of the apocalypse’ still give people space to discuss just which events, nations or individuals John was referring to in what he believed were these end times.
But above all the ‘hidden commentary’ which is infused within even this short passage from Rev 7, we discover the heart of his message. The lamb at the centre of the throne, restored to glory, will be their shepherd and this lamb is none other than Christ Jesus, God’s Son, crucified and risen!! The One who is now worshipped 24/7 by those who have been saved by ‘the blood of the lamb’ – our very Christ Jesus who gave his life so that we might always have access to God.
And here is perhaps the first surprise – the life to come, is not one where we will indulge all our self centred longings or where we are just surrounded by Ma & Pa and all the bairns, but one where God, at last is THE focus, and is worshipped by us not just 1 hr per week but 24/7 – it is noisy, it is crowded - a vast multitude too numerous to count containing people from every nation! Wow.
Not just Jews, not just Romans, not just Greeks and not just those from Nazareth!
And even though this 24/7 adoration and praise of God is the central focus on the day when God makes all things new, until then we are called in this life, to live such a God centred life, in anticipation of that day, as those who are blessed by God. Those who know that God lives within.
The word blessed which Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount is from the Greek word makarios, which means a self-contained happiness. A happiness that is independent of our circumstances.
A happiness that is more than how I feel, more than how much money I may have or more than how liked I may be by others. We have seen the mental health struggles many elite athletes and some high profile politicians have had once they’ve stepped aside from a life that so entwined their identity and worth with what they did on the playing field or what they were able to do with the influence they had in parliament, in business or in the media.
This ‘blessed’ happiness of the Beatitudes is far more enduring. For Christians it comes from the One who makes that possible, Christ Jesus. Jesus is no fair weather friend or hard task master just looking for us to stumble and fall. He has promised to be with us, in all things most of which are just part and parcel of daily life. After all if even death on the Cross would not deter him from showing how much we are loved then we can be confident that in whatever happens to us that he is there too. That is His promise.
In the midst of unimaginable grief, hunger, discord, hardness of heart or persecution, he is present so we may not be overwhelmed. These things do not have to have the last word.
This is not to say the things that happen to us aren’t incredibly important or profoundly costly, this blessed happiness does not diminish the effect of these things but can help us find a way through.
Let me give you just one example.
Many years ago I conducted the funeral of a person who had been a national figure in their chosen sport and had represented Australia. He died quite tragically, leaving a wife and a young family.
Every day for over 2 years she visited his grave, sat and wept, consumed by grief. Then one day a friend said “your children miss their dad too, they need you to help them grieve and to help them live”. In that moment, she in effect heard those words from Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount ‘blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted’.
I have always been inspired and transformed by friends and family who have at such times in my life offered similar words from the beatitudes. I’m sure you have too. They along with many others are the saints we remember and give thanks for today, past and present.
Let us now name them and light a candle as we are reminded in Hebrews Ch 12 that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses who sing before Christ and intercede to Him without ceasing, the One who is the Lamb upon the throne.…so that we might run with perseverance the race that is set before us. On All Saints day and on all days God’s Name be praised! Amen
HOLY COMMUNION Table centred in the middle of the church
We gather around this holy table at the invitation of our God and in communion with generations of your saints past and present. We come in praise of God, who is always and forever.
Through Christ we are made welcome, in Him we are made holy.
We gather as a foretaste of that heavenly banquet prepared for all whom you love Lord.
We light candles in memory and honour, in courage, in hope, as we share their names…
INVOCATION – WORDS OF INSTITUTION – DISTRIBUTION
HYMN – TIS 276 vs 1, 2 & 4
There’s a light upon the mountains, and the day is at the spring
When our eyes shall see the beauty and the glory of the King
Weary was our heart with waiting, and the night-watch seemed so long
But his triumph day is breaking, and we hail it with a song.
There’s a hush of expectation and a quiet in the air
And the breath of God is moving in the fervent breath of prayer
For the suffering, dying Jesus is the Christ upon the throne
And the travail of our spirit is the travail of his own.
Hark, we hear a distant music, and it comes with fuller swell
The great triumph song of Jesus, of our King, Immanuel:
Zion, go you forth to meet him and my soul be swift to bring
All your finest and your dearest for the triumph of our King!
Henry Burton 1840 – 1930 By permission Methodist Publishing House, UK
BLESSING & ANNOUNCEMENTS & OUR PRAYERS FOR EACH OTHER