All Saints’ Day
November 1, 2020
 
One of the reasons I love praying Morning and Evening Prayer with you is the inclusion of the Apostles’ Creed. For me, it provides a different historical perspective on the faith of our mothers and fathers, and a different rhythm than the Nicene Creed (which we use on Sundays at Eucharist). One segment of the Apostles’ Creed strikes me today as important to our liturgical calendar:
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.

It is that third line, the “Communion of Saints” which invites me to consider just who the saints are and in what kind of communion do we share.

For lifelong Episcopalians — and those transplants from the Roman and German traditions — we know already that the Saints are those who have died and who demonstrated exemplary lives with the Gospel of Jesus and the love of God. It is not a designation reserved solely to people whom Rome raises up through an administrative process ending with the person being added to the canon of “Officially Recognized Saints.” St. Paul repeatedly calls saints all the followers of Jesus – including you and me. We further recognize as saints those people we have loved in life and who have died. By virtue of the love we still have for them or by the foundations of faith they created and upon which we are standing, this Creed says we are still connected to them.

Considering that we are saints, and those who have died are also saints, “The Communion of Saints” clearly means there is a special relationship between US and those who are with God in a full way. We are in communion with each other. They join us in spiritual ways, we connect with them via spirit and memory.

“All Saints Day,” celebrated Sunday, November 1, typically focuses on those who have died but does not leave us out of the celebration. Our act of remembering the dead plays an active role; where, in a spiritual way, memory ‘brings to life’ the saints on the other side of death. In our church, there is a name for the process where memory serves to ‘bring to the now’ the presence of those now gone. Anamnesis is our way of bringing memory and Spirit together, bridging the chasm between us and those who have gone before. We pray an anamnesis every time we celebrate Eucharist, recalling the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, invoking the Holy Spirit to elevate memories into a new reality – the Living Memory of Christ.

By the words and actions of God’s people at the altar, we call upon the Spirit to reframe what we see and taste as bread and wine while grace transforms it — and us — into the living presence of Christ. In that presence we encounter those saints who have died and whom, with the eyes of faith, we see gathered with us around the Holy Table.

May this All Saints Day remind you that we are intimately connected to the people who have gone before us, and that by doing the work of the Gospel we continue to build the Reign of God on the foundations lain for us by generations long past.

Important events taking place at St. Johns:

Bishop Samuel (“Sammy”) Azariah will be joining us for prayer Sunday morning. He is the retired Presiding Bishop of Pakistan (the equivalent of our Bishop Curry) and who now lives in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Each parish is promised a visitation by a Bishop at least once every other year, and this Sunday is our date with a Bishop. With the current restrictions of Covid-19, Bishop Sammy is able to join us online and share God’s word with us. We will “open the doors” of our Zoom meeting tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. where I invite you to meet and find out about Bishop Sammy and about his ministry.

Our Morning Prayer tomorrow will be livestreamed from inside the church. This will not affect the regular Zoom gathering, but is a small step towards coming back together inside the church and eventually for Eucharist. In attendance with Rev. Karen and me will be a few of the readers for tomorrow’s service. In the picture at the start of this missive you saw the beautiful environment prepared for us by Kathe Hayden.

Reverend Karen and I welcomed a new member into Christ’s Church today: Cody Carleton, a 13-month-old – originally scheduled for Baptism at the Vigil of Easter this year – was finally welcomed as a member of our family.
 
There are many opportunities to do “Gospel Work” coming up:
Blood Drive next Sunday (sign up online at redcross.org; look for St. John’s)
RSM Cares Food Pantry this Wednesday, November 4; volunteers needed from 11 am to 5 pm at Shepherd of the Hills Methodist Church, RSM.
Laundry Love on Wednesday evening; please pray for a smooth and successful evening.
Thanksgiving Food Drive – providing a Thanksgiving Feast of Epic Proportions for a family ­– is underway. Head to the website for details and the food list.
Bishop’s Gala is next Saturday.

Our schedule of ZOOM services remains the same:
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. Here is the worship bulletin for Sunday, November 1.
• Nighttime Prayer is prayed Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Bible Fellowship, open to all, continues Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m.

To ensure participants’ online security, we don’t publish the worship/study ZOOM links; if you did not receive the church-wide email from me with the links, and would like to attend services, please email me and I’ll add you to the e-blast, and send you the links.

Our Sunday morning Adult Forum meets on ZOOM at 10 a.m. We are on a journey with the book, “I’m Still Here; Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown. Reading this book is essential in order to join coherently in the discussions. If you’d like to join the discussion, please email Scotty King.

Rev. Karen and I offer separate group office hours each week on ZOOM. My time is Tuesday morning from 10-11 a.m. Should you need a one-on-one session, just reach out and we’ll get something scheduled. My group office hour link.

Rev. Karen’s office hours are Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. at this link.

Remember to set your clocks back one hour tonight before going to bed!

Blessings and peace to you.
 
Christopher+