All Saints, 2021

 All Saint Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021(full size gallery)

Continuing the beautiful fall days with more advancement in color especially with the maples. We had 16 in the church and another 5 on line

The All Saints service was structured differently this year. At the beginning was a mournful piece played by Helmut on violin, Albioni’s Adagio. Next Catherine provided an introduction to All Saints Sunday. We then read the names of all who had died plus the names of the people who requested them added to our bulletins over the year. This was a much more meaningful expression adding those who requested they be added. Next there was a extended tolling of the bell followed by the poem “We Remember Them” by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemder. It wasn’t until then we went into the regular service with hymns including the majestic “For All the Saints”, put to melody, Sine Nomine” by Ralph Vaughan Williams. All in all a wonderful expression of All Saints.

After the service we had our 1st Sunday refreshment which was a white and chocolate cake provide by Mary’s Cakery & Candy Kitchen in King George.

“On All Saints’ Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we may have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own.” – “All Saints Day” from “The Sacred Journey” by Frederick Buechner.

Today’s readings acknowledge the life and witness of the saints of God, including you and your group members. The author of Wisdom affirms that the dead, though gone from our sight, are at peace with God. Isaiah imagines the final, celebratory feast that will be the reward of the faithful. The author of Revelation similarly depicts the jubilant end of suffering and oppression, replaced with victory and feasting. The gospel reading—the raising of Lazarus—points forward to the final resurrection of all God’s people.

The reading from Wisdom shows for the first time in the Old Testament the affirmation of life after death (“immortality,” v. 4). In the second century BC when this book was written, Judaism did not have a very clear-cut notion of life after death. Most Jews believed that the soul somehow existed on in a realm below the ground (Hebrew, Sheol), but held that without a body there could hardly be genuine “life” after death.

Contrasting the different interpretations of the wise and foolish about the dead, the author asserts that the “souls” of the dead are at peace with God and do not simply vanish when they die. Their sufferings in life are not simply a source of punishment but rather an opportunity for education and a proof of their fidelity to God, who rewards this faithfulness with an abiding relationship that continues beyond death.

Isaiah’s reading comes from a section (chaps. 24–27) that is often called Isaiah’s Apocalypse because of its vision of the last days. One of the characteristics of this revelatory writing called “apocalyptic” is its combination of despair over the community’s present social situation with confident hope of God’s final intervention to judge and save.

Chapter 25 begins with a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance. Isaiah imagines the end time, “that day (v. 9) when the Lord will come for final judgment and salvation. On Mount Zion (24:23) the Lord will prepare a feast of rich abundance for all peoples. For Jews, all meals had religious significance. Here a feast provided by God becomes an anticipated element of the last days. Mourning will end, and death will be destroyed. Those who were preserved through God’s judgment, described in chapter 24, the remnant, will celebrate God’s faithfulness.

John’s visions in the book of Revelation reveal our world as God sees it. In this final vision, John sees what our world will be like when finally God rules and all evil, together with its consequences of death, mourning, wailing and pain, will be no more (21:4). He pictures the completion of God’s action in salvation history that began with the first creation of a world that became flawed by sin (Genesis 1–3) and needed redemption, and culminates in this new creation transformed completely by God’s holy presence and power.

When “the old order has passed away” (21:4), John sees in its place a new order—a city prepared for our dwelling that comes down from God instead of being built up by human effort. Now God’s holy people (all the saints) can experience the fullness of God’s abiding presence (21:3, 22-27). John reminds us that God is the beginning and end of our lives and is always transforming us into saints—better members of God’s holy people.

The Gospel from John is the raising of Lazarus. John combines a sign narrative and a teaching dialogue, making clear the meaning of this last and greatest of Jesus’ signs revealing “the glory of God” (v. 40), God’s presence in the person and acts of Jesus.

In this gospel the raising of Lazarus plays a role similar to that of the disruption of the temple business in the other gospels. It is the final pivotal event solidifying the hostility of the authorities against Jesus and marking the transition from ministry to passion.

The note that when Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days (burial customarily took place within 24 hours in their hot climate) establishes that he was truly dead, for popular belief held that the soul of a person remained near the body for three days. Jesus reacts to the situation with intense emotion.