Our minister Trevor Dixon led worship on Sunday November 5th. Worship began when we sang, ‘For all the saints who from their labours rest’ before Trevor led the prayers of praise and confession. We sang, ‘The kingdom of God’ before the reading from Ephesians 1.11-25 and we sang, ‘God of my faith, I offer you my doubt,’ and I found the words very good. It was good to learn a new hymn. Luke 6. 20-31 was read.
On November 1st it was All Saints Day and Trevor was at a restaurant on Halloween, the eve of All Saints Day, which was quite empty. Apparently parents were going out with their children trick and treating. He got into conversation with the manager and his daughter had been to a private school for girls with a Christian basis. She was the only Moslem attending the school. Halloween was mentioned and she was asked her if she knew where the term came from; she thought it came from America. All hallows eve was the all Hallows/Saints day. Trick and treating did come from America for Halloween, but the eve of All Saints Day was the time to prepare for All Saints Day.
Who were the saints? They were not stained glass figures with hallos. A child once asked about who were in the stained glass windows and was told they were the saints. The child’s reply was they are the people the light shines through; very true in my opinion; a saint has the light of Jesus shining through his or her life. In his conversation with the Moslem, Trevor learnt that their pictures did not include people. In the school his daughter attended he had noticed that the chapel was full of pictures of Jesus. Trevor told him that saints were ordinary people with hopes and dreams, stumbling in the dark, knowing fear; they struggled to follow and serve Jesus. Trevor read the words of a hymn, God of my faith, I offer you my doubt; God of my hope, I offer you my fear; God of my joy, I offer you my grief; God of my love, I offer you my pain; those words show how saints often had those thoughts and cried out to God in confusion and frustration.
However the saints are still the ones who still run the race, although their hearts beat like drums, they keep on going, feeling inadequate and helpless. They work for the way of love and peace, care for the needy, and hold onto faith when secularism stalks the land. They are those who have a forgiving, responding love and a passion for justice. Luke’s version of the Beatitudes is a remembrance of what Jesus had said. The gospel was written in a time of opposition and persecution. Luke also included the woes; keeping on integrating faith in difficulties. Pilgrimage in Christianity is filled with uncertainty; as we see in Pilgrim’s progress to the Celestial city.
We are all taking part in that journey. John Bunyan experienced healing as he wrote the book. We are not tested more than we can bear. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Saints are ordinary people, like Bunyan in prison renewing his life as he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. Sydney Carter challenges us to take one more step along the way. Incidentally that hymn was very important to Kate, best friend of my daughter Cathy, who lost her battle with a brain tumour at age 30, leaving her poor husband Luke to care for her lovely son Joseph as a baby in 2010; we sang it at her funeral.
Paul was also a pilgrim, who wrote authoritarian letters like the letter to the Ephesians. He remembered them in his prayers and reminded them of the hope to which God called them. The Christian journey is a journey of endless discovery; we spend our whole lives getting to know him. To know him is to love him. The hope and ground of our faith is Jesus; the reward promised to us is undeserved by our merit; Jesus went through trials and tribulations for us. We are all saints in the making, being challenged on the way and called to love the world with God’s immeasurable love. Let us not give up but keep on serving and loving with our eyes on Jesus daily.
Trevor led the prayers of intercession, asking our Lord to make us worthy of our calling to be saints. We shared the peace before we sang, ‘Jesus calls us here to meet him’ before we shared communion. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Have faith in God my heart.’