Thursday, 4 November 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - All Saints HC - 07 November 2021


          Marsden Road Uniting Church 

The Surprise of the Resurrection, Sunday 07th November 2018

All Saints Sunday year of Mark 9.30 am

 Gathering God’s People       

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land. 

Theme Focus

God’s care, protection and justice is sure and eternal, and through the self-offering of Christ, all people can find security within the grace of God. The challenge is to ensure we place our trust in the right place, while also endeavouring to be faithful and righteous in whatever power or leadership we may exercise.

The usual readings for today – not those for All Saints which we are celebrating - focuses on the question of truth, the truth about who we are rather than presenting an image of ourselves that makes us look good. Read about the widow who puts the two worthless copper coins in the offering who is not ashamed of showing who she is.

Jesus proclaims that the widow gave more than the rich people. This is a summary of the Gospel, as God looks at the heart and its readiness to give generously. It is worth reflecting on whether you measure your worth by external success or by looking at your heart and seeing if it is ready to give generously, even in poverty. Ask God to help you look at yourself and at others as God looks at us. 

Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)

        Look to the saints of God for direction. Trust in the saints of God for guidance. Be the saints of God for the world.

     Look, here is our God, the One we have waited for.

     Let us be glad and rejoice in our salvation.

     Come feast on rich food and dine on fine wine.

     Enjoy the blessings of the Lord, the vindication from our God.

     Come! Let us worship the Lord.      

Hymn TIS 455 verses 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 & 8: For All the Saints

                    (Tune – Sine Nomine) 

     Opening prayer

     God of new beginnings remove the shroud that separates us from one another and from your mighty presence, that we may see you as you are. Wipe away our tears and take away our disgrace, that we may come before your throne with hearts full of song and souls ablaze with joy. Help us to live as those who are prepared to die and enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that whether living or dying, our hearts will always belong to you. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

Wellspring of tears, you know well our grief and our longing to see you face to face.

O how we wish you would come down and save us. In our pain, we have grown impatient. In our sorrow, we have doubted the depth of your love. Forgive us, Patient One, when we forget that Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.

Renew our faithfulness, Holy One, when like Mary and Martha before us, we despair of tasting the joy of eternal life.

Open our mouths to exclaim with delight: Here is our God for whom we have waited! We need your grace to complete us. We need your love to make us whole. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

The one who shows us a vision of a new heaven and a new earth is faithful. The one who prepares for us a banquet of rich food and fine wines, will wipe away every tear. The King of Glory has come to bring us salvation.

Thanks be to God! 

The Peace

God is here to wipe away every tear and bring us blessing upon blessing. Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the saints of God, as we share signs of peace in Christ’s name.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

 (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.) 

Offering Prayer

God of abundance, you offer us rich food and fine wines; you bless us with all the bounty of your heavenly banquet. May the gifts we offer this day, provide food and drink to those who go without, that all may come to know the blessings of your table, in this world and in the world to come. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 278: O What a gift

                        (Tune – Canticle of the Gift)                                    

The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving 

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

All glory and honour be yours always and everywhere, mighty Creator, ever living God. We give you thanks and praise for your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, who by the power of your Spirit was born of Mary and lived as one of us. By his death on the cross and rising to new life, he offered the one true sacrifice for sin and obtained an eternal deliverance for his people. And now we give you thanks because you have called us into the fellowship of all your saints and set before us the example of their witness and the fruit of your Spirit in their lives. Therefore, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, for ever praising you and singing:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Merciful God, we thank you for these gifts of your creation, this bread and wine, and we pray that by your Word and Holy Spirit, we who eat and drink them may be partakers of Christ’s body and blood. On the night he was betrayed Jesus took bread; and when he had given you thanks he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take, eat. This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ After supper, he took the cup, and again giving thanks he gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

You have gathered us together to feed on Christ and to remember all he has done for us. Fill us with your Spirit

that we may follow Jesus in all we do and say,      working for justice and bringing your peace to this world you have made. Accept our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

Because our bread has come from one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The cup over which we give thanks is a sharing in the blood of Christ.

Thanks be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

The gifts of God for the people of God. Come let us take this holy sacrament of the body and blood of Christ in remembrance that he died for us, and feed on him in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving. 

Prayer after Communion

Holy God, we give you thanks that we have been fed and renewed by Christ’s life in us and we go now to share that life with others.  Send us forth equipped with the power of your Spirit to follow Jesus, and to spread the message of his love to all whom we meet.  In his name we pray.  Amen 

The Service of the Word

                              First Reading:                                            Isaiah 25:6-9

                             The Gospel Reading:                                John 11:32-44

                               After the final reading the reader will say For the Word of the Lord

                               Please respond by saying                 Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Isaiah 25:6-9

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; 8 he will swallow up death for ever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. 

John 11:32-44

32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ 37 But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ 40 Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ 

Preaching of the Word - The Surprise of the Resurrection, All Saints’ Day

Winston Churchill, arguably one of the greatest political and military leaders of the 20th century, planned every detail of his funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. He worked clandestinely with the Cathedral staff, under the code name “Operation-Hope-Not.” (That code name reveals a lot about humanity’s attitude toward death, doesn’t it?) One aspect of his funeral seems absolutely inspired: a bugler played The Last Post, from the west end of the cathedral. When the sombre notes of that solo bugle echoed through the Cathedral, I can imagine the stiff upper lips of many Brits quivered, as they were no longer able to hold back tears.

Then a full minute of silence passed.

And then, surely a surprise to all those mourners who crowded into St. Paul’s that day, another bugler, this one positioned in the east, rose to play Reveille, the happy morning bugle call that gives soldiers and scouts the “get up and go” they need to kick-start their day. Perhaps after the tears, a few suppressed chuckles slipped out. Always a commanding presence – even from the dead – Churchill relayed two important messages.

First, he offered a testimony to the shock, joy, and surprise of the Resurrection. At the last day, we’ll all rise to the sound of the Lord playing a heavenly version of Reveille and waking us up to the new life, new earth, new Jerusalem. It wasn’t random that the Reveille came from the east, where the sun rises, the direction the altar faces in many churches, the direction from which we expect Christ to return again.

Secondly, Churchill bid them to press on, to attend to the day at hand, and the life ahead, here and now.

But let’s go back in our imagination to that minute of silence because that is where we can locate this great feast day we’ve gathered to celebrate: All Saints’ Day.

That minute of silence is where we find ourselves wondering:

  • Is this really it?
  • What comes next?
  • Do we have enough tears to cry?
  • Is there enough patience to persevere?

Somewhere in the uncomfortable silence, having heard The Last Post and waiting for Reveille.

Somewhere in the waiting, for God to descend among us and wipe every tear from our eyes.

Somewhere in the hoping, that Jesus’ words are trustworthy and true.

Somewhere in the trusting, that God is preparing, for all peoples – my favourite saints and yours, those dearly departed in this community and abroad, folk we miss dearly and folk we never knew – that God is preparing a feast of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

Somewhere in the discomfiting silence, where we wait for God to swallow up death forever, even as it abides with us here and now.

And in this quiet and disquieting moment, when we wait, hope, trust on our best days and fight despair on our worst – that is the moment where we meet the Lord.

Today’s liturgy, feast, and Gospel reading all encourage us to feel the grief and sorrow, maybe even impatience at having to wait that long minute before we hear Reveille, or anger at how death takes away, at least in physical form, the people we love. We are given the courage we need to wait for Reveille – together, nourished around this table, hearing God’s story in our stories, and pleading, like Mary did, for Jesus to come and take death away.

Today’s Gospel story is remarkable. In John’s Gospel, the raising of Lazarus is the event that provokes the necessity of Jesus’ death in the eyes of his day’s elite. After Lazarus was raised, the religious and political leaders were focused on eliminating him. There was something so threatening in Jesus’ disruption of the world on the world’s terms. Jesus is distraught: weeping, disturbed, maybe even angry, and certainly grief-stricken. And yet Jesus is fully in-charge, not operating on our preferred timetable, but on his own with a larger purpose in mind, that of engendering trust or belief in the crowd that had gathered.

Mary articulates what many of us feel when someone close to us dies: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus doesn’t directly respond to this. Instead, he begins to take charge, first finding out where the body is and then issuing a series of short commands:

Take away the stone.
Lazarus, come out!
Unbind him, and let him go.

What would it be like to prayerfully wonder how the Holy Spirit might be telling us in the words of Jesus:

“Take away the stone.” What stones in our lives need to be removed so that Jesus can get to us? Ask for the grace to take away the stone.

“Lazarus, come out.” Jesus knows us each by name and calls us o’er the tumult. Even death can’t deafen our ear to Jesus’ call. “Lazarus, come out.”

“Unbind him and let him go.” Sometimes each one of us needs help becoming free, loosing ourselves from the chains that bind us to death-dealing ways. To whom in your life can Jesus say, “Go, unbind your friend. The abundant life is available for him, for her, for you, here and now, even in your grief, even in your tears, even in your longing to be reunited with your beloved who is now part of that great cloud of witnesses.”

Each of these commands offers good material for our own prayer life. When we pray, just like when we receive the sacraments, we are closer to the saints because we are placing our hearts and minds in the nearer presence of God.

Jesus is very explicit about why he raised his friend Lazarus. He did this so that the crowd back then, and you and me today, might believe, might trust in the God who sent Jesus to raise Lazarus, in the Father who raised the Son on the third day, in the Lord who will swallow up death forever. This story inspires us in our waiting, in our hoping, in our trusting, in that long silence between the Last Post  and Reveille.

And, maybe, just maybe, in heaven, the equivalent of Reveille goes like this:

Holy, Holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts…

And maybe, just maybe, every Sunday, we come back here to hear that tune, to wake up to it, maybe even to join in – with the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven – including those saints we remember and grieve and are grateful for and celebrate this day.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy Glory. Hosanna in the highest. 

Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart

                       (Tune – Franconia)       

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with:     hear our prayer. 

All Saints Sunday – Year B

0 God, whose face we long to see, but often fail to recognise in our midst, hear the prayers we bring for the world and for the church.

We give you thanks for the dazzling beauty of your creation, and for our sisters and brothers, with whom we share this planet. We pray for all places where there is conflict and for harmony between nations; for all who work to promote justice and peace. God our Maker, in the treasures of your creation, in your sons and daughters, let us see your face.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for your church, for that great company with whom we are joined across distances of time and place and tradition. We pray for your church today, that we may continue a faithful witness to your gospel; for all who commit their lives to your service. God our Redeemer, in the church that you love, let us see your face.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for those whose work sustains this community, for all whose love and friendship enrich our lives. We pray for all in hospitals and nursing homes; for schools and universities and for all who prepare for exams; for our families, our neighbours and our friends. God our Companion, in those we love, and in those who love us, let us see your face.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for the courage of many who suffer, for the patience and dedication of those who care for them.

We pray for all in need of your sustaining love and comfort:

for the outcasts of society, for the forgotten, the hungry and homeless; for everyone whose body is broken or whose spirit is sad. God our Healer, in those who suffer and in those who minister to them, let us see your face.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks and praise for all your saints, for Mary of Nazareth, and for your faithful people of every time and tongue and nation. We pray for those who have nurtured and encouraged us, inspired, and challenged us; for those dear and close to us and for those countless others known to you by name. Help us so to follow the example of your saints that we may come with them to the new Jerusalem, and, with Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and your friends of every age, stand before your throne in glory. God, our beginning, and our ending, in all your saints and in one another, let us see your face.

In your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

        Hymn TIS 456: Your hand, O God, has guided

                         (Tune – Thornbury) 


         With clean hands and pure hearts, hold fast to the faith of the saints who went before us.

        In our living and in our dying, we belong to God.

        With hopeful hearts and expectant spirits, receive the blessings of our gracious host.

        In our living and in our dying, we belong to God.

        With Christ as our door to eternal life, find the courage to open the door and go in.

        In our living and in our dying, we belong to God.

        Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:

        In the name of Christ. Amen 

        Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you now

                      (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

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