Today as we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, our patronal festival, we welcome our Diocesan Bishop, Mark, who will share this important day in our parish life with us, and preach. Over the past six months as the reality of COVID hit, we were forced to worship online, separated by distance, and we have had little to celebrate. Easter, Pentecost and key festivals that we would normally mark together have passed us by. But now that we have emerged from lockdown, and are cautiously and carefully starting to worship together in community, even in this slightly strange COVID way, we will indeed celebrate this All Saints together. So, welcome Bishop Mark!
On this day, the Feast of All Saints, we mark and remember the whole body of faithful men and women, known and unknown, those remembered and honoured, or forgotten, who have been gathered up to God. It’s a day set aside in our church calendar to remember and commend all the saints of God, especially those who are not recognised at any other point in the church’s year. Just like us, for some of these saints, the path to holiness was easy, while for others it was hard. Just like us, some of them had natural gifts and some didn’t seem to have many at all. Some were fiery, some were gentle, some were eccentric or even odd, some were extroverts, some were loners. All of these saints began somewhere, doing whatever was in front of them and just keeping doing it faithfully. All Saints’ is a feast of encouragement. It reminds that like them, we too are saints and that the people in our lives are saints; it is just that some of them have day jobs and never have feast days named for them.
Importantly, on this special day that we mark as our patronal festival, we remember that we worship with all of them, and that as we gather together on this important day in our parish life, the whole host of heaven, the whole communion of saints, is crowding the air around us and worshipping with us. Today we will sing together that wonderful hymn, written in 1864 by the Anglican Bishop of Wakefield, William Walsham How:
For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
who to the world their Lord by faith confessed,
your name O Jesus, be forever blessed.
In peace, Mother Lynda