St. Paul’s Congregational Church

All Saint’s Sunday; Matthew 5: 1-12

November 8, 2020: Remember


The great celebration of All Saints is always a bittersweet time, isn’t it, as we remember those we have loved and lost this past year – especially when the pain is so fresh – made even harder this year as we’re all coping with the ongoing pandemic and a deep sense of loss of the very way we’re living our lives; there’s the resurgence of cases, and the over 235,000 deaths of friends and loved ones nationwide. And the heavy weight of loss we carry this year also includes those lost through violence this year - including Brianna Taylor, George Floyd and too many others.

It’s also a time of remembering, of savoring, the gifts we have received from our predecessors in the faith. We give thanks for those whose faith has transformed the world through the ages. Those who brought healing to the sick, justice to the oppressed, welcome to the outcast and compassion to the vulnerable. Others courageously sought justice and loved mercy – those who sacrificed their comfort and lives for God’s vision of Shalom – and that transformation continues to this day: including people like John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

None of these, named or unnamed, could do anything themselves or on their own – they couldn’t. They did it grounded in God’s faithfulness –the assurance that God is always with them, with us, and nothing can change that. This observance brings to each of us a challenge too: to realize that we too are part of the great company of saints with a responsibility to share the faith with generations to come.

So often on days like this, so full of mystery, music touches our souls in ways words can not. Our opening hymn this morning tells us the story of All Saints: there is a rhythm, a movement to it. We began with the majestic “For All the Saints”: looking back on those who have gone before – the statement of faith: “thou in the darkness drear, their one true light.” The acknowledgement that we are all connected: “O blest communion, fellowship divine! All are one in thee, for all are thine.” The challenge to us: “O May Thy Soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, sight as the saints who nobly fought of old.” And the promise: “and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong” – and the proclamation: alleluia!

Our observance of All Saints’ is about inspiration. God asks ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We are all called to take our places as vehicles of the amazing grace God offers – by responding to the needs of the world, letting our light shine so that our world may know that God is alive, seeking beauty, healing, and justice in our midst. You can do this: you can be a model of holiness – you can be a person of stature, grace, and hospitality. You can share God’s healing love and break down barriers of gender, ethnicity, nationality, ability, sexual orientation – the list goes on today, doesn’t it – you can share this love and compassion throughout the ordinary business of everyday life. All are one in God and now is the time to live that out!

Believe it or not, you can be a saint and not even know it! Just be listening for God's vision, God’s call for your life -- as your gifts meet the world's needs. And as you move into that vision.

Today we need so badly the vision of saints. Greed abounds, individualism carries the day, violence is not far beneath the surface, fears abound, and earth is in the balance as we face the realities of global climate change. We are called to claim our humble role as saints, healers of the earth, for our time and place. Grateful for the courage in years past by the great saints we remember today – and they are all great - we are called to make a commitment to transform our world, faithfully sacrificing for God's reign on earth as it is in heaven.

We gather in a few moments around the Table, surrounded by the eternal presence of the saints and will receive all the nourishment we need to live out our call. I ask each of us to take a moment in prayerful reflection to remember: saints among us, around us, and who have gone before us who still influence our lives. Ask yourself and remember: your saints – those who have shaped your life and world? And then….ask yourself – what kind of saint is God calling me to be? What kind of community of saints is God calling us to be right here at this church? What kind of community of saints is God calling us to be right now in this nation as we so desperately need to begin the journey of healing, of coming together as one. God is calling us to action! And, we have the promise that God will be with us on our journey, now and always. And we need nothing else! Alleluia! Amen!

And now, on this day of remembrance, we recall and give thanks for those blessed ones of our church community who have gone before us this year:

Christopher Capaccio January 8, 2020

Marjean A. Ingalls January 8, 2020

Bea Grossman April 4, 2020

Charles D. Redstone April 9, 2020

Robert Zarr June 5, 2020

Sergio DeAlmeida June 27, 2020

Peter Sorensen July 13, 2020

Frank Simms August 13, 2020

Carl Reynolds October 21, 2020

We light a candle for others we have loved and lost, both known to us and unknown – for family members, friends, for all victims of violence, for all victims of COVID-19, everywhere. You are invited to lift their names aloud or in silence to God as the candle is lit.

And now, please join me in the Litany of Remembrance: as we celebrate those who have traveled before us, showing us in their persistent courage and tenderness how to live in love, and die in faith and hope.

All: For those who lit our lives with joy, for those who have touched us with tenderness, for those whose loss fills us with longing, we give thanks in glad remembrance.

We celebrate those who have loved us for ourselves, looking with acceptance on all that we are, and cherishing us without condition or constraint.

All: Holy God, within and among us, we give thanks in glad remembrance.

We celebrate those who have stood alongside us, holding us in the depths of elation or despair, where words of joy or rescue fall silent.

All: Holy God, within and among us, we give thanks in glad remembrance.

We celebrate those who would not let us stand still, edging us gently into the open spaces of new understanding and delighted exploration.

All: Holy God, within and among us, we give thanks in glad remembrance.

We celebrate those who have challenged us to grow, perceiving all that we have in us to become and daring us to dream beyond our imagining.

All: Holy God, within and among us, we give thanks in glad remembrance.

We celebrate those who have traveled before us, showing us in their persistent courage and tenderness how to live in love, and die in faith and hope.

Let us pray together:

All: Holy God, within and among us, we give thanks in glad remembrance. For those who lit our lives with joy, for those who have touched us with tenderness, for those whose loss fills us with longing, we give thanks in glad remembrance. Amen.

ABOUT US

We are a United Church of Christ located in Nutley, New Jersey. 

ADDRESS

10 St. Paul's Place
Nutley, NJ 07110


(973) 667-4812 

 

info@stpaulsuccnutley.org

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