As we anticipate the festival of All Saints, we think of those who have gone before us. Worship might include reading the names of those who have died in the last year. Bells might be rung, candles lit or photographs displayed. Our faith has been planted and nurtured by people who have journeyed before us, some known dearly and others we have never met.
In early October, those on the ELCA Worship staff traveled to Atlanta for the service of installation for Kevin L. Strickland and the staff of the Southeastern Synod. Bishop Strickland most recently served as executive for Worship and assistant to the presiding bishop. A number of people streamed from east and west, north and south. In festive procession, invigorating preaching, joyful song and inspiring prayer, those gathered, many of whom became church for that day, were celebrating not only an installation but also the resurrection of Jesus in our lives today.
When we remember saints who have gone before, may we also lift up our heads to notice the living saints, the children of God, who worship with us each and every week. Some services will be grand events; others will be simpler. Yet every time we gather in Word and Sacrament, we are reminded of that song of the saints that encompasses space as well as time. Note the suggestions below for worship resources as we move from this ordinary time into Advent, the season when we lift our heads and hearts in hope of the One who calls each of us saints, beloved of God.
Life eternal! heav’n rejoices: Jesus lives who once was dead.
Shout with joy, O deathless voices! Child of God, lift up your head!
Life eternal! Oh, what wonders crowd on faith; what joy unknown,
when, amid earth’s closing thunders, saints shall stand before the throne!
— “Sing with All the Saints in Glory,” stanza 3
Deacon Jennifer Baker-Trinity
Program Director for Resource Development