Orthodox All Saints Icon. Public Domain.
"They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, on the street, in a store,
in church, by the sea, in the house next door;
they are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
and I mean to be one too."
-- Verse 3 from "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God," UMH 712.
I invite you to consider joining United Methodists and other Christians around the world to celebrate a "Season of Saints," starting with World Communion Sunday (October 5) and concluding with All Saints Sunday (November 2).
Without changing the lectionary readings at all, we may easily expand our awareness and celebration of how Christ has been present in the lives of people in the church from one single Sunday (All Saints -- two perhaps if you count "Heritage Sunday") to a full five or six weeks. It's a way to round out the Season after Pentecost with a focus on how the resurrection of Jesus Christ has made the world "bright with the joyous saints."
Here is a suggested list of saints from Church history and United Methodist history to consider for each of the five Sundays this year. Hyperlinks are provided for people who may be less well known. By all means feel free to change any of these names or add others.
|Date||Denominational Event||Christian Saint||UMC Saint|
|October 5||World Communion Sunday||Francis of Assisi||Mary McLeod Bethune|
|October 12||Children's Sabbath||John Woolman||Jennie Fowler Willing|
|October 19||Laity Sunday||Luke the Evangelist||Lizzie Hoffman|
|October 26||Yona Kanamuzeyi and
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyrs
|November 2||All Saints Sunday||Kahkewaquonaby||Jacob Albright|
In addition to these people, plan also to recognize at least two other saints: one from your congregation and one from another United Methodist congregation. To help you share your stories and find stories of others, we've set up a page describing this project on the United Methodist Worship blog. Just leave your story in the comments section.
How you recognize these saints each week is where the fun begins. Think about creative ways to tell their stories -- maybe saints videos, or children telling the stories-- perhaps as part of a testimony time after the sermon during these weeks. Consider scheduling an "All Saints Parade" on All Saints Sunday, with everyone coming to the event dressed as a saint whose life and witness speaks deeply to them. Make this a whole-church emphasis, involving not just worship, but also Sunday schools, youth groups, mission teams, caring ministries, small groups, and -- of course -- the choir and/or praise team.
I'll provide more specific ideas and information about the saints listed above for each Sunday during October in our weekly Worship Planning Helps.
So "rejoice in God's saints" (UMH 708). And use these weeks to help more of your congregation say with joyous conviction, "I mean to be one, too."