I apologise that I have got so behind on my blogs . I will now try to catch up. On November 2nd our minister Rev Trevor Dixon led our worship. The worship began as we sang ‘For all the saints.’ He led the opening prayers and then we sang ‘Christ from whom all blessings flow’ before we had the readings from Ephesians 1v11-23 and Lukev20-31.
Trevor began his sermon as he described going into an Indian restaurant in Manchester and chatting with the daughter of the manager; there were not many customers, as it was Halloween and parents with children were trick and treating. The daughter of the manager had gone to a girl’s private Christian school, where she was the only Muslim in the school. He explained to the daughter that Trick and Treating was an American custom we had imported but that Halloween was All Hallows e’en that is the evening before All Hallows Day or All saints Day; which was a revelation to her. Who were the saints celebrated on All Saints Day?
Saints are not in stained glass windows Trevor said and yet to me they are if the light shines through them, as saints are those through whom the light of Jesus shines. Trevor said simply that saints are ordinary people like us not professional Christians, the elite and perfect but those who stumble in the dark, struggling to choose the right direction, knowing fear and often crying to God in their frustrations. David Jenkins describes saints as those who still run the race, although their hearts are beating so fast and their legs feel like jelly, keep hold of God’s vision. They hold onto love when others hold onto hate, peace when there are wars and keep their faith in secular times. They forgive and respond with grace filled love, full of truth and justice. They make a risky journey alongside the disadvantaged. In Luke the blessed ones say yes to Jesus’ beatitudes. The beatitudes were written in persecution, opposition and enmity and it is Luke includes the woes as well as the blessings; Jesus urges the disciples to be wise and wary, not vengeful and keep the integrity of their faith. It would be a challenge to keep going come what may.
Trevor reminded us of Bunyan’s pilgrim’s progress and the uncertainty and despondency of Christian’s journey. At the end the pilgrim received the leaves of the tree of life giving him new strength. Persecution still faces a lot of Christian minorities in countries like Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and Syria and in this country apathy and ridicule attack Christians but let’s not be discouraged but remember like Bunyan’s pilgrim we are travellers. It is a timeless book which encourages us on our journey of faith. Sidney Carter picked that same theme of keeping travelling on in his song ‘One more step along the world I go’. St Paul understood the Christian journey as one of endless discovery – a whole life spent getting to know God; what he is about what he wants us to be about.
We have no abiding kingdom here but we have the hope of the kingdom to come which nurtures and strengthens us. We do not gain credits, it is not like a celestial nectar card but all we receive comes not on our merits but from the generosity of the donor. Jesus who has walked with us in this life, and experienced the worst we can do to him has promised to prepare a place for us. Saints cannot congratulate themselves on their goodness rather they recognise that they live by grace experiencing God’s immeasurable love and as redeemed sinners they follow their call to serve him.
Trevor led the intercessions and prayed that God make us worthy of our calling. He then led the Communion service which gave us the strength to serve. Our concluding hymn was ‘One more step along the world I go.’ The service was both a challenge and an encouragement for us to go into the world to serve.