Sunday 1st November 2020 – All Saints Day

Welcome

Welcome to our worship for All Saints Day. You can click the first video immediately below this paragraph, which will play the whole service on a YouTube playlist. If you prefer, you can scroll down and click each section in turn.

YouTube Playlist

Service written out in full

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.

Hymn

Prayer of preparation

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Prayers of Penitence

Introduction to Confession

Since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
looking to Jesus in penitence and faith.

Silence

Confession

Lord, you are gracious and compassionate:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

You are loving to all
and your mercy is over all your creation:
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your faithful servants bless your name
and speak of the glory of your kingdom:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Absolution

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Collect – Prayer for the week

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,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Readings

Revelation 7:9-17

Psalm 34:1-10

I will bless the Lord at all times; ♦
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

My soul shall glory in the Lord; ♦
let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me; ♦
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord and he answered me ♦
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look upon him and be radiant ♦
and your faces shall not be ashamed.

This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me ♦
and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him ♦
and delivers them.

O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; ♦
blessed is the one who trusts in him.

Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, ♦
for those who fear him lack nothing.

Lions may lack and suffer hunger, ♦
but those who seek the Lord
lack nothing that is good.

Hymn

Gospel reading:

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
Glory to you, O Lord.

Matthew 5:1-12

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

Whenever you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, you tend to get a very certain answer. I remember the first school service I went to as a parent. I think there was some peer pressure going on as all the girls wanted to be princesses and the boys wanted to be firefighters, except for one little boy who held out and said fisherman. Still, they all had an answer. It’s a question we ask our children every so often and I am usually intrigued by the answers.

Is it a question you have asked yourself recently? What do you want to be when you grow up? Some of you might protest that you have definitely grown up already. Even if you are long into your years of retirement, I still think it is a relevant question, although perhaps harder to answer as you get older. Maybe the question needs to change a little – what do you want to be at the end of your life?

If I am asking you this question, perhaps I should answer it first. When I grow up, I want to be a Christian. Some of you might be looking at me a bit funny and thinking that I really should be a Christian already. Of course, yes. I am already a Christian, as are most of you. When I look ahead several decades into the future, the thing that I care most about is that I am still a Christian and, hopefully, a Christian stronger in faith.

I know that each year I spend living this Christian life, I have the choice of growing closer to God or drifting away. I can choose to make following Jesus the centre of my life, or I can get distracted and turn to other things. It will be the same for you. It is worth it every so often to spend some time thinking about whether you are moving towards God or away from him.

Lets change the question again slightly. Where do you want to be at the end of your life? The answer to this for me is in the reading from Revelation chapter 7. I want to be in that glorious uncountable multitude gathered before the throne of God with all the Saints. Or, to put it another way, When the Saints go marching in, I want to be in that number.

The question that follows is then “how are you going to get there”? There are several answers to that and they are hidden in the liturgy we have used today. My first answer would be to look at the Beatitudes – the reading we heard from the Gospel of Matthew. Those famous lines – blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers – those lines give us some pointers for the types of people we should try to be.

Another way of figuring out how to reach the end of life and still be a Christian is to look at the people who have already made it – those recognised by the Church as exceptional people, the Saints, the holy ones of God. How do the Saints help us to head in the direction that they travelled?

Some branches of the Church spend a lot of time celebrating the Saints, while others ignore them almost entirely. I wonder whether we should spend a bit more time on them. Some of our churches, who are dedicated to one of the Saints, can concentrate on them. Cuthbert, Nicholas, Thomas, Mary and Michael are all interesting characters through whom we can discover more about how to be the Church. Today, we are giving thanks for All the Saints and, at All Saints Brandsby, thinking about what it means to be a Church with that dedication.

You might wonder if striving to be like the saints is a bit of a tall order. It is very unlikely that any of us would ever be recognised as an official Saint. Yet, that uncountable crowd of people before the throne of God will have thousands if not millions of people who were never recognised officially as saints, but who lived faithful lives and who God knew as a holy person. This is what we can aim for.

In our intercessions this morning, we will be praying that the example of the Saints can help us to grow into a royal priesthood and a holy nation. The idea is that the Church here on earth, although flawed and imperfect, should make every effort to become like the Church in God’s presence. We need to start now if we want to be ready at the end of our lives.

Notice that I have moved away from what I want to be to think more corporately. Being among that crowd before God is not something to aim for on your own. Being the Church is about growing together to the point where we can all be together in that crowd. We are all in this together. It is as if we were individual stitches in a knitted garment – our strength as Christians depends on those around us. Our journey to God is one which is inextricably linked to the journeys of those around us. We need each other in order to keep growing up into God’s people.

This is not something we can do without help. Later in the intercessions I will pray for God’s Spirit to empower us to be more Christlike and for us to be given inner peace so that we are able to find our way to Jesus. We need God’s help to get there.

Today we stand before God as a group of people offering ourselves for his work in this place, wherever we happen to be, and we take up the task of loving those around us so that they may discover the love of God through our own loving actions in the world. We need to be people who love others rather than just talking about it.

Here, then, is our pattern for being the Church in the light of the Saints: We need to start now, we need each other, we need God’s help and we need to love others.

My challenge for you this week is to find a Saint that you admire, look again at their story. It can be anyone – a biblical character like Thomas or Mary, someone from the early church like Nicholas, a famous Christian like Cuthbert or one of those anonymous Christians that you know well.

Once you have your saint, think about how you could shape your life after theirs and start making the little changes necessary in order to do that, in order to love the people around you more deeply in the name of Jesus.

The final part of the challenge may be the most difficult. Tell someone else about that saint and how inspiring you find them and how their story helps you to come closer to the way of Jesus. Do this in a letter or email or tweet if it doesn’t feel right face to face. Do this because you want to be in that crowd before the throne of God and you want to have more people there with you.

To be honest, I didn’t really need to preach today. I could just have got you all to read the Collect over and over again for ten minutes. I’ll pray it again here as we finish and I think you’ll see what I mean:

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,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Nicene Creed

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, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man.
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,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is
worshipped and glorified,
who 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.

Intercessions

United in the company of all the faithful
and looking for the coming of the kingdom,
let us offer our prayers to God,
the source of all life and holiness.

Merciful Lord,
strengthen all Christian people by your Holy Spirit,
that we may live as a royal priesthood and a holy nation
to the praise of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Bless Stephen our archbishop, John Bishop of Selby and all ministers of your Church,
that by faithful proclamation of your word
we may be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets
into a holy temple in the Lord.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Empower us by the gift of your holy and life-giving Spirit,
that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ
from glory to glory.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Give to the world and its peoples
the peace that comes from above,
that they may find Christ’s way of freedom and life.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hold in your embrace all who witness to your love in the
service of the poor and needy;
all who minister to the sick and dying;
and all who bring light to those in darkness.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Touch and heal all those whose lives are scarred by sin
or disfigured by pain,
that, raised from death to life in Christ,
their sorrow may be turned to eternal joy.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Remember in your mercy all those gone before us
who have been well-pleasing to you from eternity;
preserve in your faith your servants on earth,
guide us to your kingdom
and grant us your peace at all times.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hasten the day when many will come
from east and west, from north and south,
and sit at table in your kingdom.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks
for the whole company of your saints in glory,
with whom in fellowship we join our prayers and praises;
by your grace may we, like them, be made perfect in your love.

Concluding prayer –

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Our giving is a response to God’s generosity to us, and enables us to fulfil God’s mission in our church. I and all the PCCs would like to encourage you to give by Standing Order or Direct Debit, which is the most reliable and sustainable form of regular giving, and is the most efficient and cost-effective method for us. Although for many of us, money is not abundant this year, if you are able to increase your giving at this time, we will have more resource to serve our community and channel into mission.

Thank you for all you are able to give.

God of abundance,
the author and giver
of all good things,
grant us a gracious
and humble heart,
that we may give you glory
through offering the
first fruits of our lives,
and grow more into the likeness
of our Lord and Saviour,
Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Peace

We are fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God,
through Christ our Lord, who came and preached peace
to those who were far off and those who were near.

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.

Anthem

Today I will read the institution narrative from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, then offer a time of silence, finishing with the prayer for spiritual communion and the Lord’s prayer.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIVUK)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer,
friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Today, I am using the traditional language Lord’s prayer. Please pray in whichever language or version you prefer.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
raise the glad strain, alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, pow’rs,
virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs,

Refrain:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
alleluia! alleluia!
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
all saints triumphant, raise the song: [Refrain]

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
supernal anthems echoing,
alleluia, alleluia.
To God the Father, God the Son
and God the Spirit, Three in One: [Refrain]

Words: Athelstan Riley (1858-1945)

Blessing and Dismissal

God, who has prepared for us a city with eternal foundations,
give you grace to share the inheritance of the saints in glory;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, Amen.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.