We are in a holy season. Of course, all time is holy, and all time is a gift from God, but this week we especially feel the sanctity of time, and the presence of the holy ones. Halloween was long this year as it fell on a Monday. For many, that meant a long weekend of celebration and Halloween revelry. But as Christians, we remember why we observe Halloween in the first place: All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Halloween, the Eve of All Saints, begins a two-day cycle of spiritual remembrance that is at the core of our faith. On All Saints Day, we remember and give thanks for all the saints of God from time immemorial to our present day. It may be a saint you pray to in your private devotions. It may be a living saint whom you admire and aspire to be more like. It may very well be you! Most of all, we celebrate the lives of men and women from all ages and places who show us the way of Christ Jesus in word and deed...and we remember that we cannot do this life of faith alone. The Feast of All Saints is such a sacred gift. Who are your saints?
On November 2nd, the Church shifts gears and observes All Souls Day. Differing from All Saints Day, All Souls day remembers those who have died. This is a day of mourning, a day of reflection, a day of thanksgiving, and a day of prayer. I am so thankful that the Church holds All Souls Day, and acknowledges that part of the character of this life is that of sadness and mourning. On All Souls Day, we are given the gift of a time to mourn, and a time to remember.
This Sunday, we will observe both All Saints and All Souls in our Sunday worship. We will celebrate the lives of the saints, and we will remember in common prayer, the lives of the dead. This is indeed a sacred season as we recall and remember that we are never, ever alone in this life of faith. The saints surround us on all sides, holding us in prayer, leading us to God, inspiring and teaching us in our daily walk of discipleship.
And speaking of saints, we will also welcome two new saints into the household and fellowship of God through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Cassidy Hines, daughter of Shelby and Blake Hines; and August Roach, son of Jon and Brianna Roach, will be baptized at the 10am on this most fitting of All Saints Sundays.
Come one and all! Rejoice and give thanks! The saints surround us in heaven and on earth!
Yours faithfully in Christ,
Music with Dan Romero
Here are some of my thoughts on saints, interspersed with texts from hymns and prayers.
Who are these like stars appearing,
these, before God's throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia! hark, they sing,
praising loud their heavenly King. - Hymn 286
All Saints' Day is one of my favorite days on the liturgical calendar. It is one of the most important feast days in the church and it has always been important in our Anglican tradition. At one time it was one of the four days during the liturgical year when Holy Communion was celebrated in the Church of England. It is a feast day that causes us to contemplate difficult questions like what happens to us when we die, however it is an ever joyous feast day and should be regarded as such, even as we remember our beloved dead.
Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom we for evermore are one. -Bidding Prayer from Lessons and Carols, Eric Milner-White, 1918
My upbringing as a Roman Catholic and the years I spent in Catholic grade school were filled with the great saints of the church. The fact that the church recognized saints was very comforting to me (as it still is). I found it amazing that God would perform miracles with and among his people even after Jesus' time on earth. I was inspirited by their love and commitment to the church and to Our Lord Jesus. As a child I was given an image in my mind that saints in heaven are not only continually rejoicing and praising God, but that they are there rooting for us in our earthly existence. I know that this may sound like a stupendous celestial cheerleading section, but I do believe that they are urging us onward with their prayers before the throne of God.
Lo! the apostolic train
join the sacred Name to hallow;
prophets swell the loud refrain,
and the white robed martyrs follow;
and from morn to set of sun,
through the Church the song goes on. - Hymn 366
But, of course, we are also saints, as we are part of the communion of saints (everyone on earth and everyone in heaven). We are called to carry on the work of the saints who are in heaven and ultimately the work of Jesus Christ himself. We are called to bring this love to a world that very sorely needs this love. As a child I read the inspired stories of the saints of the church, and was taught that we should try to be like these holy individuals, to make miraculous things happen in the world. According to the words St. Gabriel the Archangel to St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, "With God all things are possible." Let us remember this as we celebrate the saints and answer the call to also be saints of God.
And there's not any reason, no, not the least
why I shouldn't be one too. - Hymn 293
Music Ministry Opportunities
Ascension Parish Choir
The Parish Choir has begun having regular rehearsals on Thursdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Parish choir is the primary musical ensemble at Ascension that sings for the 10:00 a.m. mass every Sunday September 11 to June 4, 2017, as well as important holydays throughout the year.
The Parish Choir is a group of volunteer amateur singers who are sometimes augmented with professional singers. No prior musical experience is necessary. In fact only about have of the people currently in the choir read music, or have studied music formally. No should feel intimidated or unqualified to sing in the choir. Everyone is welcome. I invite you to come and see for yourself!
At Ascension we have had Handbell Choir for kids as well as Vocal (Singing) Children's Choir. All children ages 8 and older are welcome to participate (younger kids who are mature enough are welcome to participate as well). We will have regular rehearsals sometime during the week.
Adult Handbell Choir
There has been some interest in having handbells available for adults as well as kids. Anyone who would like to participate will have to attend regular rehearsals. This is a great ensemble for anyone feels uncomfortable singing in the Parish Choir but who would like to participate in the music ministry of the church.
For any further information or questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Music Events
Advent Lessons and Carols, Sunday, November 27, 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 27, is the First Sunday of Advent. We will observe this important day of the Liturgical Calendar with a service of Advent Lessons and Carols, during which we recall the events leading up to birth of Jesus Christ, and prepare for his coming at Christmas.