For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8: 38-39)
By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
It is certainly a common experience in these days of ever-shortening light and cooling temperatures to miss both the warmth and the expansive days of the summer season.
With the advent of Fall, while there is a certain vitality to the crispness of early autumn days, with each passing week, it becomes apparent that many aspects of the natural world all around us, having shared with us their fruits, are now preparing for a kind of sabbath rest in their cycle. For us in the Church it is a season where through our All-Saints/All Souls Liturgies, we pause too in the busyness of our everyday, to recall, to remember and to reconnect to those who have walked this Christian walk before us.
In For All the Saints: Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days, a publication of the Anglican Book Centre, under All Saints Day we read:
It is the Church’s conviction (…) that the saints continue to be our partners and fellow-servants before the face of God’s glory. We pray for our present needs, and the saints pray with us — not as if their prayers were better than our own, but because they are still bound to us in mutual service as members of the one body of Christ.
For just as surely as there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, as we read in Romans 8 at every funeral liturgy, and was in September so movingly sung at the funeral service for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Who Shall Separate Us at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqftlBY9uTc) we are inextricably and permanently linked and bound to all who have ever called upon the name of the Lord. This means that we are both never separated from the love of God, nor can we be separated from the love and example of one another.
While remembering these Saints is meant to draw our focus for a moment to the story of their lives, it is also meant to provide for us an example of how God works in the world, in the lives of actual people. And so, as we remember and consider the stories of other Christians we are renewed and strengthened and encouraged to extend God into our communities. As we read further in For All the Saints —
Since God is “God of the living,” since Jesus is risen from the dead, our commemoration of “the friends of God” always involves more than an historical exercise or a recollection of past figures now dead and gone. It also involves communion with people who, though they have indeed died, are in some sense no less truly alive. In what precise sense that might be, the Anglican tradition has not presumed to define. We have the assurance of Scripture that those who have followed Jesus in faith and justice will receive the inheritance of eternal life… For that very reason, Scripture goes on to say, “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” that we stand even yet in the company of “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12.1, 23). (https://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/ForAlltheSaints.pdf, 18.)
In our weekly gatherings of EfM, as companions together, we reflect upon, study and celebrate our ongoing connection to the divine and to those who have showed us the way in previous generations.
We open ourselves to see a fuller, more complete expression of what it is to be a disciple and servant of Christ. As we connect with one another, drawing inspiration from the Saints of Scripture, of history, and of our own lives, we invite God’s Spirit to work in us and to transform us.
We are always glad to share this journey.
If you are interested in learning more about all that is available to you in our Education for Ministry sessions, please reach out at any time to either Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon, Huron’s EfM Animator at firstname.lastname@example.org as we would be pleased to hear from you.
Rev. Canon Dr. Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.