5th November 2023 10.30am – All Saints Eucharist

5th November 2023: 

Watch this week's service on YouTube

Download the order of servicehere: 23 11 05 All Saints Eucharist

Read this weeks Church News




The Readings

Revelation 7.9-end

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’


Matthew 5.1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By the Revd Dr Beth Keith.

When I was a teenager, we lived in a house with 3 stories. My bedroom was on the middle floor and my
sisters’ rooms were on the top floor. Most days we would return from school, and immediately drop our
stuff, our shoes, bags, PE kits, coats, on to the floor in the hallway. So, when my Dad returned from a busy
day at work, his first view of the house when he opened the door, was a complete mess.

It wasn’t unusual for us to be shouted down to clear it up. On various occasions this would begin with
‘Elisabeth, come down here’. Elisabeth, rather than Beth, was only used when I was in trouble. So out of
my room I would come, to an annoyed father, who wanted me to clear up the mess.

“But Dad, most of it is Rachel and Felicity’s mess, I’m only going to clear up my own mess.”

To which he would say, “well your down here now, please will you clear it all up.”

After this had happened a few times, I asked him, why, when he didn’t know which bits of the mess
belonged to which of his daughters, did he only shout for me.

“Well, it’s because your room is on the middle floor, when I shout for you, you come down, when I shout
for them, they can’t hear me.”

This felt deeply, tragically, unfair to my teenage mind. But when I protested, with a wink he would say,
“Life isn’t fair, ah well, great will be your reward in heaven”.

Little help that was, was Jesus really going to give me some king of heavenly gold-plated shoe monitor

But what will heaven be like? I imagine if we went round the room and shared what we think heaven
would be like, we would get many different ideas. Because, although there are pointers in the scriptures,
prophecies, and revelations, none of us know with certainty what life after death might be like.

There is, however, a thread throughout the Bible, that God will make things right; that there is more than
what we see before us. That God exists beyond our human interactions, and God’s justice, God’s kingdom,
has the final say. Some Christians emphasise God’s Day of Judgement, a day when we will all be held to
account for our actions. Other Christians emphasise God’s love, a time when God will gather us in, and we
will be made whole in love.

Knowing that there is more to life than this, can be a comfort and strength to us. When we experience
grave injustice or evil. When we are challenged to forgive someone who has done us great harm,
unspeakable harm which is almost impossible to forgive, knowing that we can leave that injustice with
God, can help us to move on from the harm caused. Knowing that there is more to life than this, can
challenge and encourage us to life lives based on God’s values. Putting the needs of other’s first, trying to
do what is right even when that is costly.

But this kind of theology can also be misleading. It can push us into thinking that this is some kind of
cosmic transaction, a cosmic tit for tat, where each deed of ours is measured and weighed up with specific
rewards allocated for specific deeds, specific judgement for others, and specific redress for injustice
experienced. Whilst the Bible does point to God’s rule of justice, there are plenty examples littered
throughout the Old and New Testament, where God stretches the rules. Where God’s justice is stretched
by God’s great mercy, and love. We might include the stories of Jonah, or Job, in these examples, where a
human call for a kind of cosmic tit for tat, is challenged by the mystery of the all-encompassing love of God.
This kind of stretching of justice is also seen in Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God. A rule which
seemed to stand opposed to the Kingdom of the Romans in which he lived. A kingdom that threw the
normal rules upside down. A kingdom where those who were most despised and most pitied, where
treasured, honoured, and healed.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

When we pray ‘Your Kingdom Come’ as we do each time we pray the Lord’s prayer, this is the kingdom we
are praying for.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

November marks the beginning of Kingdom Season in the Church. One of the prayers we pray in kingdom
season gives us the image of Jesus,
‘on the last day, gathering up all things,
that we may enjoy the fullness of God’s promises’.

It’s an image I take comfort in. Though I cannot fathom how this will happen, I have faith and trust in Jesus,
who has experienced and found a way through all the difficulties and injustices we may experience.
Kingdom Season is a time of remembering and mourning and looking forward with hope. And it is also the
season where we lift our eyes beyond what we can see. A season when we pray that God’s rule of justice
and love will become more evident here, more evident in our lives, more evident in our church, and in our
community. One way is which we do this, is to honour and remember the Saints that have gone before us.
Saints in the Bible and those saints since, who have shown us what following Christ can look like. Today we
may also want to think about the people in our own lives, ordinary folk who have discipled us, helped us,
and supported us in our own faith journey.

You may have noticed that before I started to preach, I took off some of my vestments. You may notice
that Janet is also wearing something similar to me. The clothes we wear for services, are all designed for a
reason. The white robes you see us wear come from the image from Revelation that we heard in our first
reading. The saints in glory appear in white robes. When we wear these for services, we remember, that
whatever part we may be playing in the service, we are merely saints, ordinary people following Jesus. It is
only through Jesus’ sacrifice and salvation that we are here. It’s not very practical, but really we could all
be wearing white robes to get the symbolism right. Perhaps when you were baptised or confirmed, you
wore white, as a symbol of this.

In a few moments I will put on the stole and chasuble, the chasuble is seemless garment which points to
Christ, and to the celebration of the feast we share at the Eucharist. Whereas this white robe fits me, the
chasuble doesn’t. It’s not mine, it’s the churches, worn by whoever come to celebrate Eucharist. I put it on,
I take it off. Whereas this white garment fits, I wear it each week, I take it home, I wash it when it gets
dirty. In some ways it is a good image for how we all stand before God.

God clothes us, give us an identity in Christ which is pure, and which also fits us. An identity as a child of
God, as we are, fully loved and forgiven. Through Christ we are counted among the saints, not through
great works or acts of service, not through our achievements, or our suffering, but through God’s great
love and mercy. And so today as we celebrate with all the saints who have gone before us, we come to this
table. We come to Jesus, who turns the rules of this world upside down, and invites us to join in with his

So, let me finish with a prayer.
Eternal God, our maker and redeemer,
grant us, with all the faithful departed,
the sure benefits of your Son’s saving passion and resurrection
that in the last day,
when you gather up all things in Christ,
we may with them, enjoy the fullness of your promises,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Prayers

Prepared by Catherine

United in the company of all the faithful
and looking for the coming of the kingdom,
let us offer our prayers to God,
the source of all life and holiness.

Merciful Lord,
strengthen all Christian people by your Holy Spirit,
that we may live as a royal priesthood and a holy nation
to the praise of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Bless Pete and Sophie our bishops and all ministers of your Church,
that by faithful proclamation of your word
we may be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets
into a holy temple in the Lord.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Empower us by the gift of your holy and life-giving Spirit,
that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ
from glory to glory.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Give to the world and its peoples
the peace that comes from above,
that they may find Christ’s way of freedom and life.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Hold in your embrace all who witness to your love in the
service of the poor and needy;
all who minister to the sick and dying;
and all who bring light to those in darkness.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Touch and heal all those whose lives are scarred by sin
or disfigured by pain,
that, raised from death to life in Christ,
their sorrow may be turned to eternal joy.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Remember in your mercy all those gone before us
who have been well-pleasing to you from eternity;
preserve in your faith your servants on earth,
guide us to your kingdom
and grant us your peace at all times.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Hasten the day when many will come
from east and west, from north and south,
and sit at table in your kingdom.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We give you thanks
for the whole company of your saints in glory,
with whom in fellowship we join our prayers and praises;
by your grace may we, like them, be made perfect in your love.

Blessing and glory and wisdom,
thanksgiving and honour and power,
be to our God for ever and ever.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is used here is copyright (c) 2010 The Archbishops' Council