This weekend has been All Saint’s weekend and each service has been full of reference to those who have gone before us in the Christian faith. For some of my congregation they pray happily to saints – one lady was telling me as she gave me a lift home about how she had been giving thanks to a particular saint for saving her from her money troubles earlier in the year, while another person in my congregation from a very evangelical background just squirmed all the way through the service at every mention of the word ‘Saint’ as being not their thing at all! I love that variety in my congregation!
I love that we come to God in the presence of countless angels making festival, before the assembly of the firstborn citizens of heaven, before the spirits of the just made perfect (Hebrews 12.22ff), I love that in most communion services I am reminded of the elders, the many angels, joining with us in a loud voice as we finish the Eucharistic Prayer and lead into the Lord’s Prayer saying, blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever – the ‘yours’ being the one who sits upon the throne and to the lamb (Revelation 5.11ff). We have learned in Jesus Christ that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8.38) and I rejoice to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, my grandparents and others I have known, is God of the living (Mark 12.27).
Tonight, as the candles representing those we remembered burned on the Communion table, we heard a 900 year old song I like – Dies Irae – Day of wrath and doom impending – Not a cheerful beginning really. The ancient tune repeats and winds it’s way through memories of great trumpets sounding, earth quaking – Death is struck, all creation wakes – the great book of life is opened, and it remembers that if the just need mercy on that great day, how do I stand a chance?! But the cross of Christ is called to mind and the basis for prayer is remembered – ‘Through the sinful woman shriven, through the dying thief forgiven, thou to me a hope hast given’ and so the song comes round to confidence in God and after 18 verses the ancient melody morphing slightly as it goes, has slowly stilled our hearts to rest in him.
If you missed it, spend some time with God instead, learning how to pray in different ways with Maggie Le-Roy, our Diocesan Retreats Facilitator, who is here teaching different methods of prayer each day until Wednesday evening – mornings at Christ Church 10am till 11am, and at Holy Trinity 7.3opm. Be a saint!