Sunday (Zoom from the sanctuary) message: How are we saints?

Worship on the Lord’s Day

All Saints Day

10:00 am November 1, 2020

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting                                                                          

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: I lift up my eyes to the hills –
from where will my help come?
P: My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Come, now is the time

Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are before your God, come

One day ev’ry tongue will confess You are God
One day ev’ry knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those,
Who gladly choose you now

Songwriter: Brian Doerksen© 1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook))
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:

L: God, send your light and your truth
as we gather to worship.
P: May they lead us
    to your holy presence.
L: Let us bless the Lord at all times;
P: God’s praise will always
    be on our lips.
L: Magnify the Lord in all ways;
P: We will lift up God’s name together
    in worship and in service.

Prayers of approach and lament

Creator, Christ, and Spirit: God of life and blessing, you created all that exists. In Christ, you offer your redeeming love to every soul in every situation. So it is our greatest joy to be united by your Spirit in the community of your people, stretching throughout the generations, all around the world you love. We join our thanks and praise to the voices of all your saints, both in heaven and on earth, who worship and adore you, saying:

Lord, while there is so much to thank You and praise You, we also bow our heads in lament before You. What did humanity do to have a pandemic thrown as a wrench into all aspects of our lives? When, o when, Lord will You bring an end to this thing we have named Covid-19? It has taken away so many opportunities of family gatherings. Our eyes become tired of joining in on FaceTime chats, or Zoom meetings. Yet, we are told that the virus isn’t tired of us. Our hearts are tired, so we lay our prayers of silent lament at your feet.

Response: I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s faithfulness

Hear and believe the good news of the gospel! Anyone who is in Christ is made a new creation. The old life is fading away and the new one is coming to be. Know that God is love, God loves us in Christ Jesus.

God is not punishing us, God will bring a new future in due time.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

Dear Lord, as we pray to You for help, this too is an acknowledgement that we can’t journey the path of our lives without your help. We need your presence. We look up to You and bring the needs and challenges of so many before You.

You know the needs of both those present and those who aren’t able to come out to worship.

We realize that your presence is with those on our prayer corner, as well as friends, family, loved ones and we reach out to You in prayers of intercession for each of them.
Amen

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time    

Open our eyes Lord,
we want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch him,
and say that we love him
Open our ears Lord, and help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord we want to see Jesus.

Songwriter Bob Cull
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI 

Book of Praise: Holy, holy, holy            299

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns
around the glassy sea;  
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
 
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name,
in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Words in French, public domain
Words Reginald Heber
Music  John Bacchus Dykes; descant C S Lang
© Novello& Co. Ltd
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture readings:                       

Revelation 7:9–17         p.249 NT(NRSV)

The Multitude from Every Nation

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Matthew 5:1-12             p.04 NT(NRSV)

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:

“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.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Response:  His truth is marching on

Message:

“How are we saints?”

Every year at the end of October and beginning of November there are some celebrations of sorts. You might be surprised to learn that there are three celebrations, Halloween, the Protestant Reformation and All Saints’ Day.

The tradition I was raised in, and spent 45 years of my life in, only celebrated Reformation Sunday on October 31st, so that I became exposed to Halloween’s and All Saints’ Day after coming to Canada in 2004. Halloween was only starting to gain popularity in South Africa when we left. I looked it up and, in all those almost 17 years, All Saints’ Day only fell on a Sunday in 2009 and 2015 and now again this year 2020.

Now, what is the importance of all this “useless information”? One thing is that the three all tie in with each other. Only when the days line up with Saturday and Sunday, does All Saints’ Day end up in the limelight on a Sunday.

Still, what is the importance of all of this? See, there was something that happened when a monk from a countryside university in Wittenberg, Germany read his Bible in the year 1517. Here is one thing that this monk by the name of Martin Luther discovered. Most people had consensus during those times that saints were some special super Christians who lived outstanding lives. To add insult to injury, in the 15th century there was a strong belief that people could purchase indulgences, or maybe we can call them waivers, to put them in a better position before God. It gave the impression that only spiritually serious people would find themselves in such a position. They were then told to justify themselves by charitable works, and all kinds of religious performances. They were encouraged to acquire a form of “merit,” which was in the hands of the church of those days, by purchasing certificates that would waive their sins. This left them wondering if they had done or paid enough to soften God’s anger and escape God’s judgment. It was in this context that Luther’s desire was sparked to refocus the church on salvation by grace through faith on account of Christ, and not on account of ourselves. To the spiritually oppressed, doubting any assurance of God’s grace, Luther proclaimed free grace to God’s true saints.

This might sound like a long-winded description. All it boils down to is that there is nothing we can do to win God over to love us. God already loved us before we even knew God!

“Who then could be a saint?” asks Rolf Jacobsen in an article on a website called Working Preacher. The word “saint” in the New Testament is never used to refer to the best, most virtuous, or most faithful Christians, as in St. Mary or St. Peter. The idea that there is a group of super Christians who are called saints simply is not biblical.

So, what is a saint? Not a super Christian. Rather, according to the New Testament, a saint is one who has been “sanctified” by baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.[i] My dear friends, it is you and it’s me. It’s our parents, our grandparents, aunts and uncles, our spouses who might have gone before us. They are ordinary people who are or were just as vulnerable folks who had nothing they could show as proof of being “good” people.

We are merely saints because Christ died and rose for us and gave us eternal life. All we need to do is to accept it. A saint is a Christian and a Christian is a saint, one who has been made holy by Christ. At least that is what the New Testament usage of the term implies. Therefore, All Saints’ Sunday is not a day to celebrate a sort of “Christian Hall of Fame.” It’s a day to celebrate that all of us are sanctified in Christ Jesus not by our own merits, but by the free grace of God in his son Jesus. It is a day to remember those saints who are living now — including those separated from us. It is a day to remember those saints who have died in Christ — especially those very dear to us and those who have died in the past year. And sadly, because of the pandemic and other things about 2020 that have been awful, there may be more saints who have died this year than in many other years.[ii]

Halloween’s, again, at its deepest roots, originally started pagan, despite its Christianized name, and despite our mostly innocent ways of observing it. Its origin is Celtic and has to do with summer sacrifices to satisfy Samhain, the lord of death, and evil spirits. Those doing the pagan rituals centuries ago believed that Samhain sent evil spirits out to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. Christians tried to confront these pagan rites by offering a Christian alternative, All Hallows’ Day, declared by Pope Gregory III between 731 and 741 in the Christian Era.[iii] This would be a celebration of the lives of Christian saints on November 1. In medieval England the festival was known as All Hallows, hence the name Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) for the preceding evening. [iv]

All Saints’ Day, which we remember today is a day of life. Eternal life and free life, given abundantly by God. As Jacobson puts it, “The two scripture texts this All Saints’ Day offer two pictures of the family of faith — one from the time of Jesus’ earthly life and one from Jesus’ heavenly reign.

The picture of Jesus’ earthly life comes from Matthew 5 — the Beatitudes. Jesus offers a picture of those whom God loves, among whom God is present, through whom God is actively working, and whom God is powerfully blessing: the poor in Spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers, those who are persecuted for their Christian faith. That’s our family. Where do you see them today? Look around. Do you have eyes to see?

The picture of Jesus’ heavenly reign comes from Revelation 7 — the host arrayed in white: “[A] great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands…

‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God and worship Him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat’” (Revelation 7:9, 14-16).

The host will no longer hunger nor thirst — neither for righteousness nor for food and water. They will not suffer from sun and heat, snow and cold, death or illness. The Lamb will be their shepherd! How ironic — the lamb as a shepherd, who guides them to springs of the waters of life, where there will be no tears. That’s our family. Look around. I imagine that we can see that future kingdom of God breaking into our present world. Do you have eyes to see?” [v]

We are made saints; we have this living hope within us. How are we saints? We are saints, so to speak because God’s light shines through us. There is a crack in each of us, we are vessels, broken and vulnerable, and that’s where God’s light gets a chance to shine through. This is how we are saints. Amen

Book of Praise: One bread, one body    540

One bread, one body,
one Lord of all
One cup of blessing
which we bless
And we, though many,
throughout the earth
We are one body
in this one Lord

Gentile or Jew, servant or free,
woman or man no more.

Many the gifts, many the works,
one in the Lord of all.

Grain for the fields, scattered and grown,
gathered to one for all.

Songwriter: John B. Foley; 1978 © New Dawn Music
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.

Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We celebrate at the table

Invitation to the Lord’s Supper

Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, you formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away and our love failed, your love remained steadfast. You delivered us from captivity, made a covenant with us to be our sovereign God, and spoke to us through your prophets. So with your people on earth and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ.

Your Spirit anointed him to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. When the Lord Jesus ascended, he promised to be with us always in the power of your Word and Holy Spirit.

[Let us all come to the table of the Lord!]

Affirming our faith                 

Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died,
and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand
of the Father,
and he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen

Communion prayer                                     

Luke 24 (institution)

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us, while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ ‘The Lord has risen indeed. Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’

Communion:

Breaking bread and offering the cup

These are the gifts of God for the people of God. (Breaking of Bread)

Because there is one bread,
we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread.
When we break the bread,
it is a sharing in the body of Christ.
The body of Christ, broken for you, take eat.

(Offering of the Wine)

When we bless the cup,
it is a sharing in the blood of Christ.
The blood of Christ, shed for you, take, drink.

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving

Book of Praise: There is a redeemer      358

There is a redeemer
Jesus, God’s own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Holy One 

Thank you, oh my father
For giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit
‘Til the work on Earth is done

Jesus my redeemer
Name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Oh, for sinners slain

When I stand in Glory
I will see His face
And there I’ll serve my King forever
In that Holy Place

Words and music: Melody Green; © 1982, BMG Music Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Sending out with God’s blessing

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Response: God to enfold you


led by Rev. Heinrich Grosskopf

Elder: Jane de Caen

children’s time: Fionna McCrostie

vocalist: Linda Farrah Basford


[i] Jacobson, R. (2020, October 31). A family reunion of saints. Workingpreacher. http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=5461
[ii] ibid
[iii] All Saints’ Day. (2020, October 31). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints’_Day#Protestant_observances
[iv] Holcomb, J. (2020, October 31). The Connection between Halloween & Reformation Day.Christianity. https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/art-and-culture/the-connection-between-halloween-reformation-day.html
[v] Jacobson (n 1)


Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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