This worship service will be a bit different from we’re used to, in that it’ll be another live service on Zoom that is also live streamed to Youtube! We did a bit of tweaking to the set up, so hopefully things will work better than they did for Thanksgiving. As always, any and all comments and concerns are welcome as we continue looking for different ways of being church together!
The worship bulletin can be found here.
Aside from the usual bowl of water, food and drink, and lit candle for this worship service, seeing as how it’s All Saints Day, you might want to have some unlit candles ready as well. When we get to the Remembering of All Saints and we sing the opening hymn, you may light your candles, one for each of your lost loved ones that you wish to remember and honour. There will be candles lit in the worship space for the list of names that were received, but you may add to that in your own space also.
May your time of worship be meaningful and blessed!
By your Spirit, O God, still our restless spirits and unstop our ears. May your Word be planted in our hearts this day, that we might have faith and believe in your promises of grace and mercy, through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
So even I make mistakes. Even I, your pastor, or the pastor that just happens to be on your screen because you landed on this video by accident, can have blunders. Even I, this so-called expert in morality and theological awareness, can flub up time to time, just like I’m doing right now in talking about myself too much.
Seriously though, I made a mistake. Last week in my sermon I told a story about myself and the changes I wanted to make in my life during this pandemic. I used words that I shouldn’t have. I portrayed attitudes that I really don’t hold. I put down a whole demographic of people, and I didn’t even notice. It wasn’t until I preached that sermon again, albeit with a bit more edginess to it, that I was called out and my apparent lack of tact came to light. And let me tell you, that was a hard pill to swallow.
Not because I really think that I’m free of mistakes, no, I’m fully aware of how imperfect I am. But because I hurt people that I really care about and respect and I didn’t even know it. What hurt was the thought that I could be so insensitive, so crass, so blatantly oblivious to others that I could say such things and not even think twice.
If you know what I’m talking about, please know that I’m sorry. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you may never, but know that I made a mistake that I truly regret and that I’m sorry. And even if you don’t agree with me, this is my mistake that I made that I own up to, and all I can do is say that I’m sorry and hope and pray that I learn and grow from my mistake and just not do it again.
Because that is one of the benefits of making mistakes, isn’t it? Learning? We can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs, so to speak. Now, I’m suggesting that we go and make all the mistakes possible in the world so we can learn to be better people, but I’m saying that when we make mistakes… and we will make mistakes whether we want to, plan to, or know that we do or not, that we can take those mistakes and learn from them, learn about other people, and even learn about ourselves. Trust me, it’s a lot better than just beating yourself up over the mistake and wallowing in guilt for a couple days. Ask me how I know.
In this incident that I’m talking about that happened earlier this week, something pretty amazing happened from it that aided in my learning. My colleagues surrounded me and pelted me with God’s promises of grace, redemption, and forgiveness. And I know, you might think that as a pastor I should know this, and I do, but every now and then especially when I’m feeling super down, I need to be reminded as well. I need to be reminded that I’m loved by God. I need to be reminded that I am blessed by God. I need to be reminded that I am a child of God, created and formed in God’s image, and held in God’s arms of grace and mercy forever.
Blessed are the poor. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst. We know these beatitudes. We get them in our readings a couple times a year. But this time around, perhaps in light of this past week for me, it hits a bit different. Maybe it’s because of this pandemic, or because a few of these lit candles are actually pretty recent for our community, or maybe it’s just because 2020 has been kind of a big steaming pile of poo. Yeah sure, we might know that we’re blessed, because you know, it says so in today’s reading. But can we honestly say that we feel it? Can we say that we believe it? Can we say that we have accepted it as truth and integrated it in our lives?
If I’m honest, I’m going to say probably not. Not this week. Not this year. Not during the pandemic. So how can we ever have any confidence in this promise?
Well, do you think we’re the only ones who had a hard time believing this? Can we be the only generation that had a difficult year? Is it even possible that no one before us didn’t exactly feel blessed either?
I’m not saying that they all had it way worse than us so we should suck it up. I’m just saying that we aren’t alone. We aren’t setting any new precedents. We aren’t blazing any trails that haven’t been blazed before. Because generation after generation had their moments, they had their difficulties, they had their times of learning and teaching and they grew from them.
See, even as we can learn from our own mistakes, so can we learn from the mistakes of the past. As we reflect on our lives and how we can grow and change, so can we look at the lives of those we’ve loved and lost to further inform us of what is possible for the future. As we might struggle to see in what ways we are blessed, we can just look at the lives of the saints, also poor, meek, and that mourned and were hungry, and see how they were blessed in spite of their hardships.
This in itself is a blessing. That we have access to the combined wisdom of the generations, learning and growing and being informed by their lives of faith, their lives that were also riddled with mistakes, their lives full of blessing and God’s grace. That is what today, All Saint’s Day is about. That we not just remember those we’ve loved and lost by lighting a candle for them, but we also honour them and their lives with our own, the lessons they taught us with how we teach others, and give thanks for how they were blessed and continue to bless us through and with Jesus our Lord.
And so we can confidently believe in God’s promises. We can take to heart God’s redemptive grace and forgiving mercy. We can learn and grow with the wisdom and support of all the saints, spanning over time and space, showing us lives of faith, lives of worship, lives of God’s unending blessing giving God thanksgiving and honour and power and might, forever and ever.
So on this All Saints Day, may we remember and honour the saints that have gone before us, that as they continue to live on with God the Spirit in our hearts, that we continually grow as a community and the one body of Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.