I generally don’t write down my sermons before Saturday. I often reflect on the readings for several days, I might have some ideas of what I’m going to say. But you never know what Saturday will bring. And it is always worth being ready for something to happen on Saturday which impacts everybody and needs to be addressed on Sunday. It doesn’t mean I always know quite what to say when Saturday’s events happen and I then need to figure out what I am going to say.
All Saints Day is a feast of celebration for the church. Particularly for this church, named for the Feast. And because the church was re-opened on the Eve of All Saints day 1952, after the destruction of the fire in 1940. It seems ironic then, that we are on the eve of at least a partial closure of the building again.
Revelation is an often mis-understood book. Yesterday the church commemorated Martin Luther, it was the 503rd anniversary of his nailing the 95 thesis to the doors of another All Saints in Wittenburg, launching the reformation. That same Martin Luther was so concerned with Revelation being mis-understood, he instructed that it shouldn’t be preached on. Many would say that Revelation belongs along with the ghost stories of All Hallows Eve. But Revelation is written as a comfort for those who suffer. For those without power who are most impacted by events like the ones we are witnessing. John tells of his vision of a great multitude from every nation and tribe and language standing side by side. These are those who have been through the great ordeal and who have found their solace in the Lamb of God, the one who sacrificed everything that they might live. It is a reminder for us that we are not alone, whatever ordeal we now face. We too are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, the Saints, and accompanied by a God who will not desert us.
As a child and a young adult I really struggled with the beatitudes which Jesus preaches on the mountain in this morning’s gospel: I didn’t think of myself as poor in spirit, I wasn’t mourning, I didn’t want to be meek – where was my blessing. But of course the sermon has a similar audience to the Revelation to John. Jesus is speaking to those who are oppressed, those who are being or going to be persecuted. He is speaking to those who he wants to be merciful, those he wants to hunger for justice – for righteousness. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love anybody else, It doesn’t mean his blessings are only for these people. But it is in those moments when we are most in need of being reminded of God’s blessing, moments like now. When these words come to us and comfort us.
Back in Lockdown 1 Jayne Manfredi, a blogger wrote a series of Beatitudes for the pandemic, which were picked up and used by Dave Walker, a Church of England cartoonist. Among her beatitudes Jayne Manfredi included:
‘Blessed are those who stay indoors, for they have protected others.
Blessed are the unemployed and the self-employed for their need of God is great
Blessed are the corner shopkeepers, for they are the purveyors of scarce things
Blessed are the delivery drivers and the postal workers, for they are the bringers of essential things.
Blessed are the hospital workers, the ambulance crews, the doctors, the nurses, the care assistants and the cleaners, for they stand between us and the grave, and the kingdom of heaven is surely theirs.
Blessed are the checkout workers, for they have patience and fortitude in the face of overwork and frustration
Blessed are the refuse collectors, for they will see God despite the mountains of waste.
Blessed are the teachers, for they remain steadfast and constant in disturbing times.
Blessed are the single parents, for they are coping alone with their responsibilities and there is no respite.
Blessed are those who are alone, for they are children of God and with him they will never be lonely
Blessed are the bereaved, for whom the worst has already happened, they shall be comforted.’
As we head into the coming month, it is important that we remember that we are not alone, that we are each blessed by God, that we will not be forsaken or forgotten. We join with a great multitude of those who have gone ahead of us, we join with this great multitude as we pray for deliverance from all that would harm us. For we too are the saints of God, we too are members of Christ’s household, and we are not alone.
The Beatitudes for the pandemic end with these words:
‘Blessed are all during this time who have pure hearts: all who still hunger and thirst for justice: all who work for peace and who model mercy, May you know comfort, may you know calm, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all. Amen.’
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream
John 20:19-end Thomas the TwinWeekly Services Sunday Mornings 8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School Weekday Services Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10amSaid Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00amEvening...
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