A Bible Reading: Revelation 7. 9 - 12 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom
and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
A Thought As you walk around the village, you may have noticed the carefully positioned pumpkins in readiness for Halloween on Sunday. Our grandchildren have enjoyed searching for them like many other children in Walgrave.
Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Eve, observed in many countries on 31 October. This event tends to be marked by the wearing of scary, ghostly costumes, pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. However, in the church calendar it marks the beginning of a period of Remembrance. All Hallows Eve is followed by All Saints Day on 1 November. Hallow actually means ‘holy and set apart’ and hallows plural is another word for ‘saints’.
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Saints’? Here in Northamptonshire, maybe it’s the rugby that immediately springs to mind. Some people might think of the dedication of a particular church building. The church here in Walgrave is dedicated to St Peter, Old church to St Andrew, and Hannington and Scaldwell churches are dedicated to both St Peter and St Paul.
Some saints are officially recognised through canonization by the church for living a particularly holy life like St Frances of Assisi, but the word ‘saint’ can also be used for any Christian, one who belongs to Christ and who is regarded as being in heaven after death. No Christian is solitary. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become members of God’s family and the company of saints whose mutual belonging transcends death.
In Revelation, we get a vibrant snapshot of this great multitude, people from every nation, tribe and language, standing in God’s presence, wearing robes of white and waving palm branches. This amazing vision of the great crowd of witnesses is remembered in the Communion service in those powerful words:
‘Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, for ever praising you and saying: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.’
When we share in the Eucharist, we are momentarily reminded and caught up together with the saints who have gone to heaven before us and all the angels, giving praise and worship to God. Awesome! Together with All Saints Day, this is an opportunity to give thanks for those faithful Christians whose lives of faith have encouraged us and set us an example of godly living.
To you we come, Father of light, with angels and saints, where heaven and earth unite. May Jesus meet us and open up to us the kingdom of heaven to join in one fellowship with the saints in glory.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty by Reginald Heber (1783 – 1826) Tune: Nicaea by John Bacchus Dykes (1823- 1876)