Lamenting All the Saints

All Saints 2021

It’s been a long slog through pandemic times as we celebrate All Saints Sunday this year. We are weary of grief. Some of us cannot even weep anymore, as Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. We’ve grown numb to the pain, to the loss.

Some of us are too angry to cry. We’d rather shake our fists at God and yell for God to do something, anything. If God is so omnipotent, why is there no end in sight to this suffering? Does God even care?

And Jesus weeps some more.

So this year, as we worship for All Saints Sunday, I am inviting my congregation into a service that follows the pattern of lament. We will begin by naming God and acclaiming God’s attributes of love and power. Then we will name our complaints before God, just as Martha and her sister Mary did after Lazarus had died. The congregation will receive pieces of dissolving paper, on which they may write their griefs, their losses, their complaints, their sorrows.

Then we will ask God to act. Using this beautiful Prayer for All Saints Day by April Fiet, we will call on God to heal us, to comfort us, to take away our sorrow. We will ask God to remember the saints who have died in the past year, tolling a bell and lighting a candle for each one named.

And finally, we will celebrate Communion, placing our written complaints into the water of the baptismal font, and watching our grief dissolve in God’s deep love for us as we receive bread and cup to share with one another. The service concludes in praise and thanksgiving with Vaughn Williams’ Sine Nomine – “For All the Saints.”

And then, we go out, taking our place in that long parade of saints who’ve gone before, who walk beside us now, and who will come after us, each one a beloved child of God.

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