Today we met in the park (appropriately socially-distanced!) for the last time before lockdown. Fiona had found it was All Saints Day and the lectionary reading was the Beatitudes so we read round them in The Message (which, being less familiar, makes one think more about the meaning and perhaps emphasises their immediacy) and then in the NIV (which to me has always seemed to suggest recompense in heaven when you die!). That familiar rendering was then echoed in Pope Francis’ thought-provoking description of a saint;
Saints are the simple, the humble who make room for God, who know how to weep for others and for their own errors, those who stay meek, who fight for justice, who are merciful toward all, who guard purity of heart, who always work for peace and remain in joy, not in hate, and, even when suffering, respond to evil with good. (Pope Francis)
Fiona then conducted a light-hearted quiz identifying pictures of the Saints with each of our names, and what they patronised
We followed that with an excellent prayer she had found;
All Saints’ Day Prayer: Set in the Company of Saints
You are our God and we are Your people,
and we are grateful that You have claimed us as your own.
You have set us in the company of saints past and present,
among those who have made bold witness
to Your goodness and Your truth.
Your Word opens up new futures
where we see no way forward.
You know the places in our hearts
where we are afraid
— afraid of a future we cannot control;
— afraid of losing health and independence
— afraid for the well-being of our children
— afraid that past mistakes will ruin our future
Write the stories of your people deep into our hearts
so that we may learn to trust you beyond our fears.
Give us hearts and minds and spirits
ready to trust and follow wherever your Spirit leads
The second element today was about memories and remembering (I have been clearing out the loft; so many memories and funny how we keep some worthless things because of the memories they invoke). Fiona had made some memory cards and beads to help us pray for each other over the next few weeks when we will not be meeting face-to-face.
Finally we ended with Steve Kenyon’s towering, majestic Beech Tree bread and wine words/liturgy which I urge you read in the resources section, as it is probably too long to reproduce here