Here is the completed....well, not quite, chain. You see, we left it open on each end....to be ready for the future saints who will be joining us.
Below is the homily that was the setting for the chain construction.
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
Every October, Bloomington, Indiana is home to the Hilly Hundred. It is a two day bike ride in and around Bloomington, for about 5000 riders, that, you guessed it, is very hilly. Because it’s a ride and not a race, there is a staggered start each morning which allows the riders to get moving at their own pace. Each day there are 3 rest stops with live music, doughnuts, fried chicken (at the lunch stop) and all sorts of other carbo-loading treats. This was the second ride I had participated in, and the first one that took place on roads that would have some of their regular traffic.
What really caught my attention the first day, aside from all those hills, was the communication between the riders. As we rode single file, if folks came up from behind they would let you know that they were on your left….so you knew someone was around you. Folks would point out gravel patches, bumps or other road obstructions to those who were behind them.
And when the cars, trucks or combines came by the folks up front would yell, “Car up!” so you knew a vehicle was coming at you, and the folks from behind would yell, “Car back!” so you knew that a vehicle was coming from behind.
This constant communication was for the safety of not the individual riders, but for the good of the entire group. Any rider who shouted out one of these things was thinking about those who were going before them or those who were coming behind them. It was an exercise (no pun intended) that showed concern for others, beyond themselves. It was the awareness of being part of a community, it was the awareness that there are those who go before us to guide the way, and that there are those who will follow us for whom we can show the path.
What I love about All Saints Day…is that we are reminded about the connection to those who have gone before us….and who we are – as individuals and as a church because of those who have touched our lives and the lives of those around us. But what I also love about All Saints Day is that we are a part of a larger group, and there are those who will follow us, as well.
We hear in the story of Lazarus, the all too familiar response to the death of a loved one….oh, Jesus if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. In the midst of things that we cannot comprehend, we are drawn to ask questions of why? How come? When something tragic happens in our lives we are often drawn in upon ourselves….we have aches, pains and sorrows that need comforting. We sometimes struggle to see God within the midst of our sorrow and grief.
But here’s the thing…it’s not just the saints who have gone before us that we are called to remember this day….it’s also the saints among us…and the ones who will come after us. You see, that’s what makes the church the church.
We are surrounded, yes, by a great cloud of witnesses – who have gone before us, but also surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses…here and now….and that crowd and cloud will grow as time passes.
I’d like us to see that connection this day.
I’d like to create a chain of saints, if you will, so we can see the connection between those who have gone before us, those who are here now and those who will follow us….
You will receive 2 strips of paper.
On one, write your own name.
On the other write the name of a saint who have mentored you, who has taught you in life or in the faith, so someone who has helped prepare the path/family/congregation of which you are a part.
Once you’ve done that, connect them together.
Okay now that we each have at least 2 loops together I’d like us to start linking these loops with these strips that I have here. Each strip contains the name of an individual who became a part of God’s family through baptism this past year. These are the saints, too, who are a part of this great cloud of witnesses….who will continue on in the faith…and who will continue to do God’s work in this place, this community and around the world as they continue to grow.
It is at this table, that we all gather. Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, we come to this table for bread and wine, for forgiveness and grace, for the opportunity to gather with all the saints of every time and place.
Let us pray,
Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of all the saints that surround us, for those who have gone before us: Art, Franks, Lorraine, Robert, Helen, Robert, Charlotte, Al, Mabel, Margaret.
And for those who are coming after us: Claire Elizabeth, Anthony Thomas, Clayton Hunter, Caden Philip, Sarah-Anne, Chaun Fred, Grace, Hannah , Madison, Steven Nicholas, Michael Thomas, Cooper Samuel, Connor, Aiden Timothy, Allison Grace, Alexis Loren
Continue to bless all of your saints as we strive to do your work thorough our hands.
And now may the peace which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to try new things in worship that enable us to see God in our midst and how we are connected as the Body of Christ here and now. I love that some of the names on the loops were mentioned later in the prayers and how people of all ages were able to see the connection we all have.