The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury

November 1, 2020
All Saints’ Day


“The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. * When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. * And when [the church] buries a person, that action concerns me. All [of humanity] is of one author, and is one volume; when one [person] dies, * one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; * and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age,* some by sickness,* some by war, * some by justice; * but [the Lord’s] hand is in every translation, * and [God’s] hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. * As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all. . . . *

No [one] is an island entire of itself; every[one] is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. * Any[one’s] death diminishes me, because I am involved in [hu]mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; * it tolls for thee.” * [from John Donne’s Meditation XVII of Devotions upon Emergent Occasions]

PRELUDE                  Partita on “Lyons”                Randolph Currie


Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
In life and in death
We belong to God.
Baptized into Christ’s death
We live unto Him.
Come, let us Worship God!

HYMN: O Worship the King


Let us prepare to take our place at the table of grace with servants among us and saints above us, united in the joy of Christ our Hope:


Eternal God, in every age you have raised up men and women to live and die in faith. We confess that we are indifferent to your will. You call us to proclaim your name, but we are silent. You call us to do what is just, but we remain idle. You call us to live faithfully, but we are afraid. In your mercy, forgive us. Give us courage to follow in your way, that joined with those from ages past, who have served you with faith, hope, and love, we may inherit the kingdom you promised in Jesus Christ.  

Silence is observed


Hear the good news: We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the living and the dead.  When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We were buried so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God, we too might walk in newness of life. believe the good news:

In Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
Let us give thanks unto the Lord; God’s steadfast love endures forever.


Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen, amen.


The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
And also with you.

ANTHEM                   “Christ Beside Me”               Tom Fettke


(all children will remain in the sanctuary)


We do not pretend to understand the mystery of the faith to which you have called us. Open our hearts that we may be prepared for the journey, so that, as the scripture is read and your word proclaimed, we may receive with joy what you have for us today. Amen

SCRIPTURE              Matthew 5:1-12

5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Black and white lamb with St. George cross

Today, I want to begin by showing you a banner.  Does anyone know what banner this is?  It is the All Saints banner. Banners were used in the Middle Ages to signify under whose dominion we marched. They were big and bright and bold so you could look toward them and fight on. Then they were planted at the end of battle as a sign of triumphal conquest.

Lamb with sky background and St. George cross

But this banner is not a proper banner. Why? Because the nature of Christian triumph is not like military conquest. Our victory is one of reliance upon God’s power, God’s dominion. Early Christian art for our triumphant, risen Lord depicts a lamb carrying a triumphal banner, but notice that it’s a lamb, a slaughtered innocent on a cross, who is the triumphant one. Christian triumph comes in continuing to carry forth the good news that God, not brute force of Empire, rules. Of course, this means we are vulnerable to also being killed or ripped to shreds with criticism. So, our rather tattered ribbon banner is an appropriate one for the church, for this communion of saints, to which we belong.

Truth be told, the Christian life is rather ragged. If you look at the Beatitudes you see a picture of the blessed Christian life, one that is poor, meek, full of grief, hunger, persecution.  Not the easiest way to live, if we are truly living under the Banner of the Lamb.

Well, this banner may be tattered, but it’s still beautiful, open to the winds of the Spirit blowing free that move its gospel peals that ring forth down through the ages, coming now even to us, like the ringing of a bell that goes forth. Look again at the banner, representing the communion of saints.

Lamb with gilded background and St. George cross

All Saints’ Day this year provides me with a sure and certain hope that is embodied not solely in Jesus Christ, but made tangible in the people of faith who have gone through many ordeals and remained steadfast in their loyalty to Christ and their love for neighbor and world. I do not want to tether my hopes too tightly to any earthly power because to do so is to diminish the providence and omnipotence of the Triune God who has no equal.

This Sunday, this All Saints’ Day just days before our presidential election in the year of a global pandemic, I need to worship the Lamb who died that we might live, the Messiah who ate with sinners and told us to love the unlovable and the unlovely in order that the world would know that we are his followers. I need to remember the great cloud of witnesses and the members of every tribe and nation over the vast expanse of time who refused to succumb to the lesser (but so appealing) gods of vengeance, hate and cynicism. When I picture that glorious heavenly worship, I see some of the saints who entered the Church Triumphant this year. Saints like John Lewis who said at Montreat in 2015, “Never, ever let someone pull you down so low you hate them.” The saint who said to all of us in words published in the New York Times the day of his funeral: “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

When I think this All Saints’ Sunday about the children of God who resemble the One they follow, I think about an elder in a church I served who worked tirelessly for equity in education, who when he could no longer speak, used a letter board and his pointer finger to slowly spell out “I love you” at the end of what would turn out to be my last visit with him. I think of so many who have endured so much and yet kept the faith, living the faith, focused on the saving power of Jesus Christ. I think of them and know they would tell me they were blessed through it all because they served a loving God who kept them from sinking so low that they hated another but instead had a good hope for all.

So, who helped you grow in faith—yes, let’s share those saints in  the midst of the sermon…

Stained glass lamb with St. George cross

Finally “There are many different lives represented in the communion of saints. Lives as beautiful and shredded and ordinary as ribbon on this banner.

Lamb with St.George cross

But if we didn’t talk about the beauty that is also represented by the communion of saints, we’d be remiss. The Christian life is blessed, beautiful and good. We may be persecuted, but we’re victorious nonetheless. We may be poor, but we’re rich in blessing. We may be shattered by grief, but we go on.  The call is to give thanks for those saints who have gone on before us teaching us the beatitudes, and sharing those same commandments with those walking with us.

In your imagination, do you ever throw a dinner party of various historical characters? You know, like Queen Elizabeth, St. Francis, Shakespeare, John Calvin, Michelangelo, Dorothy Day, Mother Jones, the Apostle Paul—and whoever–all come to the same dinner party. Well, every time we come to worship, to this table, we join the communion of saints who forever feast in God’s glory. You wouldn’t think of going to a dinner party without introducing folks to the guests you’ve brought with you, so let us name for each other the saints in whose communion we are today. After we call the names of the members of this congregation who have died in the past year and who now rest in God’s eternal peace, you are invited to name the saints who have encouraged you along the way of faith in Christ, especially those who have recently passed on to reside in God’s glory.

Stained glass lamb

Commentary provided by Teresa Stricklen, Erik J. Thompson, Eric Shafer, Shannon J. Kershner, Scott Hoezee, Karoline Lewis, Jill Duffield, Sarah A. Johnson, David Lose & Jeannine K. Brown


  • Florence Meyer
  • Milo Zidek
  • Doug Robinson
  • Sue Speers
  • Marjorie Atkinson
  • Fred Davis
  • Sally Love
  • Kay Black
  • Shirley Collier
  • Amelia Exley
  • Dorothy Kudrec
  • Erin Roberts

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH            The Apostles’ Creed

I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. 

HYMN: “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God”


Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God! Folks will come from east and west, and from north and south. All the citizens of God’s Rule in Christ Will feast forever in glory. This is the Lord’s table, His dinner party spread across time. And all who are baptized in him Are invited to this foretaste of the Age to come.


The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give our thanks and praise to you, the God of Abraham and Sarah, Miriam and Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Ruth, David, priests, and prophets, Mary, Joseph, Peter and Paul, apostles, and martyrs, and ordinary unknown saints .

You are the God of our mothers and fathers and our children to all generations.
You, Everlasting One, made us all. You fashion us into one people, and continue to love us even when we deny our godly heritage.

Still, you call us home to you through saints dedicated to your will.
Therefore, we praise you joining our voices with all the people of faith of every time and place who forever sing to the glory of your name:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory! Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed are you, most gracious God, for the gift of your child, our brother, Jesus Christ, who lived in accord with your will to the point of laying down his life for the good news he preached and passed on to us. On the night of his arrest, he taught us how to serve one another in love with a ritual of table fellowship enjoyed by Christians of all times and places.
And so in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves with thanksgiving as a living sacrifice.

In union with Christ’s offering for us, we live out the mystery of the faith we proclaim:
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

Spirit of the living God, make us one as we partake of these your gifts to us so we might be in communion with you and one another.
As we break bread together, may our eyes be opened to see your glory.  As we lift the cup of salvation, may we be strengthened to follow your Way.

Until Christ comes in final victory and we feast together with all the saints at God’s great family reunion, keep your church one in service to the world here and now, even as we pray for the world you so love: Speak your peace in the world where wars rage and violence triumphs

We lift before you our prayer for the health of all nations, that all people may flourish, for the upcoming elections in our country, for all people in positions of power over others’ lives.

May your will be done. May your Kingdom come.

We pray for those who grieve . . . ,
for those who are sick . . . ,
for those struggling to live the fullness of your resurrection . . .

Send forth comfort as only you can give. Forgive our sin, O Lord, as we forgive others, and remember our making. Work with who we are, where we are, to form these clay pots into vessels of living praise, that our lives may participate in the same unending song of the universe raised by all the saints,

Through Christ with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor and praise are yours almighty God, now and forevermore. Amen.


The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.



After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, crying out with a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our “God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!”

And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying,
“Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen!”  



Here’s what I believe:
I believe night always gives way to the dawn
I believe war always gives way to peace
I believe death is always shattered by life
Here’s what I believe:
I believe God is doing a new thing
Every minute of every day, God is at work, around us and within us
For the homeless, a place to live
For the hungry, a feast
For the thirsty, a cup of cold clean water that runneth over
For the weary, rest
For the lonely, a friend
For the sick, healing and wholeness
Here’s what I believe:
Every minute of every day,
God is making all things new, giving and giving and giving again
And you are called, we are called to be a part of God’s work of generosity
You are called to give,
to surrender your time, talent, and treasure to this God-work of making all things new
You are called to give
We are called to give
The morning offering will now be given and received!


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.  Praise God, all creatures high and low. Alleluia, alleluia!  Praise God, in Jesus fully known: Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!


Loving God, with this money, make a whole new world With these gifts, help make real what your prophets declare, that mourning and crying and pain will be no more With these people, help make a world where everyone is loved, a world where justice and compassion roll down like a mighty stream, a world where everyone has warm food, cool water, healthcare, and friends – a world where death is no more, where mourning and crying and pain are no more! Do it now, God, in the name of your son, our sweet Savior Jesus Christ.  And the people of God said, “Amen.”

HYMN: “For All the Saints”


Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw
off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let
us run with perseverance the race marked out for us with our eyes fixed on Christ.


May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine with delight
In looking upon you with favor and may you rest forever in God’s peace.