This Saturday, the 28th, we will hold a workshop in the church that will talk about the role of church leaders in difficult or anxious times. One of the principles of that leadership is that “We recognize that Beginning Again is a Way of Life – that we believe in the resurrection – that new life comes.” We tend to think of the 1500s on Reformation Sunday, and we tend to think of the departed on All Saints Day, but they are both important reminders that God is a reforming, reconciling and resurrecting force at work in our lives today, and saints are all around us right now, and we ourselves are saints when we open to that force and let it work through us.
Beginning again is at the heart of Christ’s way in part because it is human nature to stray or fall. There has never been a saint who did not need to pick herself back up and begin again from time to time–in fact for most of us, many times a day! Also, change is the nature of life, it is a constant, so the community of saints needs to be reforming and reconciling itself and resurrecting constantly, beginning afresh in response to change within or around it.
We will celebrate past, present and future reformations and saints this Sunday. We will think of those who have gone before us and we will celebrate the presence of children in our thriving Sunday School who are saints in training. We will hear and sing old traditional music and read traditional scriptures and also have some new surprises. For instance, we will sing the old favorite, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God,” but we will work each of our children into it in a way that may never have been done before.
The Hebrew scriptures will be Psalm 32 and Isaiah 1:10-18 and the gospel passage will be Luke 19:1-10, a story of a sinful tax collector becoming a saint before our eyes. We will sing two stirring hymns, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther and “For All the Saints,” as well as the beautiful “In Heavenly Love Abiding.” The Choir will sing “God of Change and Glory” and an arrangement of “For All the Saints.” John will play organ pieces composed when the Reformation was still fairly young including two chorale preludes based on “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” by Buxtehude and Pachelbel and a third piece by J.G. Walther.
Below you can hear the Buxtehude and Pachelbel and marvel at how differently those two baroque era masters approached the same hymn. You also will see a solo of “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” sung by an eleven year old girl–have your hankies ready!