Happy All Saints Sunday! The prayer book provides for celebrating All Saints (November 1) on the Sunday after to ensure that all of us have ample opportunity to celebrate this important feast and to think about our own connection to the Communion of Saints. The Communion of Saints is a natural extension of the most important Christian doctrine there is: that Jesus Christ rose from the grave on Easter morning. If the Resurrection of Jesus is true—if Jesus really has destroyed death (and I’m staking my life on the belief that he has)—then what he promises is true, and we will be participants in that resurrection. The logical entailment of this most glorious and central tenant of Christianity is that the fellowship of believers known as the Church does not end with the death of individual believers. Those who have died in faith are not gone for eternity but live together with Christ. While we cannot understand what that life after death looks like, we can join with the Church through the ages in affirming that there are those whose sanctity of life on this earth, or whose sanctity of death as martyrs for the faith, places them in a position to intercede for us to God. This is why we say things like “joining our prayers with the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles, St. Faith and all the saints…”. It is not a matter of worshipping the dead, because God alone is to be worshipped. Rather, it is a matter of accepting that our ancestors in faith are still with us in the Christian journey, and just like we can call upon our living friends for prayer and support in that journey, we can call upon the saints.
So today is a reminder that our fellowship, unity, and communion with each other transcends space, time, and even death. For that reason it’s a great day to begin our annual stewardship season. Stewardship season is a time to prayerfully reflect on how God might be calling us to recognize our interconnection with each other and with the ministry and worship of Holy Apostles, which is a small but integral part of the ministry and worship of God’s whole Church throughout the world. This is a time to pray about what kind of support God is calling us to offer for the work of God in this parish family. Our theme this year is Wonder, Love, and Praise, which is a phrase from the hymn, “Love divine, all love excelling,” written by my one of my favorite hymn writing saints, Charles Wesley. If you are a member of Holy Apostles, you will be receiving a letter in the mail this coming week introducing this theme. The letter will also include a pledge card. These are tools to help you to think about the gifts that God has given you and how you might use those gifts to glorify God, to help others, and to keep this place as a place where we can all belong, a place that connects us to those ancestors of faith who have gone before us. We will continue in this season of prayer and discernment until Sunday, November 24th. On that Sunday, we will gather all our pledges of stewardship and generosity and offer them to God for God’s Church. After that special service, we always celebrate with an all-parish luncheon. It’s going to be a lovely time.
From beginning to end and at every point in between, it is my honor and duty to thank you for your past and continued support of Holy Apostles. Thank you for your faithfulness in getting on board with what God is doing in us and through us as a community. This truly is a place to belong, and through your support, it will remain that way for future generations. Thank you!