Sunday, 1st November: All Saints Day

Welcome to today’s online worship offering using the same readings, prayers and reflection that will be shared in church plus some musical offerings. It takes about half an hour to fully participate in this offering so we hope you can find some quality time to interact with it. Thank you for sharing in this worship with us.

The Prayer for Today: The Collect

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn: For all the Saints

First Reading: 1 John 3: 1-3

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.  What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Song: I sing a song of the Saints of God

I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green:
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God help me to be one too.

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and God’s love made them strong;
and they followed the right, for Jesus’ sake,
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast:
and there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn’t be one too.

They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.

The Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:1-12   The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

Leadership Lessons from the Beatitudes | Pref-Tech
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Hymn: It is a things most wonderful

Today’s Reflection: from Rev Jane Cresswell, our Vicar

The festival of All Saints reminds all Christians of our collective identity, existence and mission. We are not in this alone.

No one particular individual saint is mentioned today on this Feast of All Saints.  No one is greater or lesser.  If you look in the calendar of the church at all the saints it mentions, you will find a diversity and variety of people – men, women, noble and lowly, old and young.  That is a source of hope for all of us.

The saints are sealed, called, and saved by God – Catholic World Report

So what unites the saints together? Each of them was unique and different but they were all related to God.  They all relied on God’s grace to sustain and empower them in what they believed God was calling them to do.

This special feast invites us to recover a vision of church that is God’s and doesn’t just belong to us human beings.  We celebrate God’s achievement in showering his mercy on each and everyone of us and all the saints who have gone before.  The saints are not primarily heroes of holiness, but rather those who knew their weakness and poverty and who simply held on to God and trusted him to give them the strength to do what was needed.

Sometimes this year it has felt a bit as if we are hanging on by our fingertips, but nonetheless we have hung on to God, and more importantly, God has hung on to us.

The agenda of today’s gospel takes us outside and beyond the Church, to the world and all its people, to the desperate needs and longings of so many – those who have become victims of the widening gap between rich and poor, those countries that are crippled by international debt, economic injustice, the violation of women and children, fundamentalism, racism and so on.

And it challenges us to pray for God’s grace to go on changing our behaviour and character so that we, as God’s present-day saints, might become agents of God’s transforming mission in the world – just as all the saints who have gone before.

The vision in Matthew’s beatitudes offers a foundation for the kind of holy living that we celebrate on All Saints Day.  The saints are those whose lives bear witness to suffering and struggle, demonstrating life on the margins and fulfilling the prophetic role that this world so badly needs.  This cartoon portrays that well.

This holy way of living consists of our absolute trust in God, commitment to peace and justice in our world, and our active involvement in God’s compassionate and transforming mission in a world of injustice and inequalities.  So we are challenged on this All Saints Day to eagerly press on, being made holy by the unmerited and persistent love of God, and allowing our lives and actions to bring hope to the world.

Matthew tries to portray what life is like in the reign of God in quite a subversive way in this passage.  Blessings and woes sit alongside one another.  The reading does not exalt poverty or grief as virtues, but it certainly pities those who are benefited and honoured by the present systems of the world.  God’s reign calls for an alternative way of living that swims against the tide.

The saints are those who struggle to live out this alternative and countercultural way of life. They belong to the past, the present and the future.

The trouble with thinking about saints who have gone before is that we often think we can’t live up to their standard of holiness.  It has been said, however, that “a saint is a sinner whose life has been insufficiently researched.”  From what we know of some of those regarded by the Church as saints, they might not have passed closer scrutiny – and the same goes for many of the Biblical heroes of faith!  But for all that they are people whose faith won out over the less glorious features of human nature and conduct.

Once we understand that, then we might find it less daunting to ask God to help us live up to our potential as his present-day saints here in Taplow.

Tomorrow, of course is All Souls Day, when we remember our loved ones who have died in faith and those whose faith is known to God alone.  And we believe that they, along with all those formally recognised as Saints by the Church, watch over and cheer us on in our own journeys of faith and struggle.  We believe in the communion of saints.  Departed saints and the living saints gathered here today are one in Christ, who is Lord of the living and the dead.  And when we celebrate Eucharist, they are here with us, along with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.

I read about some Latin American churches where when the names of those who have died are called out, the congregation call out “present” as a reminder that it is through Christ and Christ alone that we have this communion.  It’s not very British of course … and we are not encouraged to shout at the present time!  However, I would encourage you today as we celebrate All Saints to be particularly conscious of carrying in your hearts as you come to receive communion those saints whom you have loved who have died and remember that God’s people are not alone – we are one in Christ.

The saints who have gone before are our supporters in this Christian race, but it is Jesus himself who, as the writer to the Hebrews affirms, is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.  So we set our eyes on him afresh and focus our sights on running the race that all the saints have run and to which we too as God’s present day saints are called.

We celebrate this feast with faith and hope.

Anthem: Give us the Wings of Faith Bullock

Give us the wings of faith to rise
Within the veil, and see
The Saints above, how great their joys,
How bright their glories be.

We ask them, whence their victory came
They with one united breath
Ascribe the conquest to the Lamb
Their triumph to His death.

They marked the footsteps that He trod,
His zeal inspired their breast;
And following their incarnate GodSaints of All Ages Division of Meyer Market Designs
They reached the promised rest.

Today’s Prayers

Rejoice in God's saints, today and all days! 
A world without saints forgets how to praise. 
Their faith in acquiring the habit of prayer, 
Their depth of adoring, Lord, Help us to share.

Lord, we praise you for the saints of this and every age. For the Old Testament Patriarchs, Judges and Kings, the Psalmists and the Prophets.  For the New Testament witnesses of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.  For those since New Testament times whose selfless devotion to living in God’s way has inspired countless generations of Christians to follow their example.  Help us to rise to their example in the way we live our lives that we may learn more about what being a Christian really means.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Rejoice in those saints, unpraised and unknown, 
Who bear someone's cross, or shoulder their own: 
They share our complaining, our comforts, our cares: 
What patience in caring, what courage, is theirs!
A prayer for everyone who is suffering right now.  Sending Love and Light, Cherokee Billie

We pray for all those members of Christ’s body who are suffering from sickness, persecution, hunger or homelessness and those who feel forced to put themselves in further danger trying to escape their suffering.  We pray for those whose lives are turned upside down through receiving bad news, being involved in accidents or other sudden changes in circumstance.  We pray for those in our own community who have particular needs at this time and any known to us who are suffering in body or mind.  Lord, may your light surround them, your presence enfold them and your power give them strength to carry on.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Rejoice in God's saints, today and all days!
A world without saints forgets how to praise. 
In loving, in living, they prove it is true: 
Their way of self-giving, Lord, leads us to you.
All Saints for All Seasons

We thank you O God for all those who, in times of darkness, kept the lamp of faith burning, for the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it, for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified our world, and for those we knew and loved, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with you.  We remember in gratitude and joy their earthly lives; grant them your everlasting peace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

For all the saints who have gone before us, who have spoken to our hearts and touched us with your fire, We thank you O Lord.

For all the saints who live beside us, whose weaknesses and strengths are woven with our own, We thank you O Lord.

For all the saints who live beyond us, who challenge us to change the world with them, We thank you O Lord.

Lord, we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place.  May we who aspire to live our lives more like them, be filled with the Spirit that blessed them, so that having shared their faith on earth, we may also know their peace in your kingdom.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers…

Hymn: Come, let us join our cheerful songs

Come, let us join our cheerful songs
with angels round the throne;
ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
but all their joys are one.

'Worthy the Lamb that died,' they cry,
'to be exalted thus';
'Worthy the Lamb,' our lips reply,
'for he was slain for us.'

Jesus is worthy to receive
honour and power divine;
and blessings, more than we can give,
be, Lord, for ever thine.

Let all creation joins in one
to bless the sacred name
of him that sits upon the throne,
and to adore the Lamb.

Notices for the Week

PCC Meeting: There will be a PCC meeting after the service at St Nicolas Church this morning.  Amongst other things, the PCC will be making arrangements for Remembrance, Advent and Christmas services.  Details of the outcomes will be on the website next week.

Operation Christmas Child:

This is something we can all do.  A small can have a big impact.  What goes into the box is fun but what comes out of it is eternal.  Be part of changing children’s lives all over the world in the name of Jesus through the power of a simple gift.  We can either pack a shoebox and take it to Braywick Nurseries (drop off point) between 9th and 16th November, or we can send a pre-packed shoebox (£20) by going to shoeboxonline.samaritans-purse.org.uk 

This is something we can all do.  A small can have a big impact.  What goes into the box is fun but what comes out of it is eternal.  Be part of changing children’s lives all over the world in the name of Jesus through the power of a simple gift.  We can either pack a shoebox and take it to Braywick Nurseries (drop off point) between 9th and 16th November, or we can send a pre-packed shoebox (£20) by going to shoeboxonline.samaritans-purse.org.uk 

Slough Foodbank Logo

Goods for Slough Food Bank: the APCM agreed we would continue to make donations to Slough Foodbank (following our Harvest donations) and you can leave contributions in the box at the back of church over the next few weeks. More details on their website re. what they need most.

One of the range of Christmas Cards

St Nicolas Church Christmas cards: These are now availableafter the morning service at St Nicolas Church.  There is a choice of a stained glass picture or the church in the snow.  They are £5 for 8.  There is also a Village green in the snow scene: £3.50 for 5. All sales go to the church.  Card payment available.

Bowled Over: Jim’s woodwork is also available between now and Christmas.  Some items can be seen after the morning service at St Nicolas Church and all the items are displayed in the ’Fund-Raising’ section of our website.  This year, the stock includes some lovely items made from St Nicolas Church oak.  All proceeds for church funds.  Card payment available.

Silent Auction for a baby quilt: Jenny Harris has made a beautiful baby quilt.  It is square, 100% cotton fabric, hand-quilted and fully washable and is to be sold for our church funds.  These pictures do not do it justice but Nicola Mole (our ‘virtual auctioneer’) is bringing it to church for you to see and you can make a bid by either bidding on paper in church or by emailing Nicola (nicolamole@aol.com).  For every bid received, an anonymous benefactor will make a £2 donation.  So get bidding— the reserve price is £40 and the closing date for bids is 6th December.

New Book published this month

Tales of Taplow: This new book on the history of the church and the village will be available from 15th November for £10 per copy.  It includes stories from the War Memorial, the coming of the railway, the history of the          Riverside, the iconic Taplow bridges, the Canadian Red Cross Hospital, and loads more including recipes from local restaurants as well as all the church community.  Proceeds are for the church heating fund.

Final Hymn: O When the Saints go marching in

Blessing

May the blessing of Almighty God and the Saints of every age
inspire us to live better lives in our age
that we may play our part in sustaining God's Kingdom 
here on earth, now and always.  Amen.

Voluntary: Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring

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