Planning for This Service
In the United Methodist Church, the first Sunday in November is usually a combination observance of two major feasts: All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Whereas All Saints Day commemorates the great historical forerunners to our faith, All Souls Day helps us remember some of the “everyday saints” who have gone before us and have entered into God’s rest. Both of these observances coalesce well with this week’s theme of “abiding.”
Christ abides with those who are among the least and the lost, and Zacchaeus the tax collector is well-despised from many angles, situating him among “the lost.” If you have celebrated All Saints Day earlier in the week, consider focusing the prayers of people on those deemed “the least and the lost.” During the time of congregational prayer, provide silent space for people to lift up names, people-groups, and/or nations of those who might fit that category. An example of a simple congregational response is “Abide with them, O God.”
It is also important to name that while God abides with the least and the lost, God also abides with those whom we have lost. If you are celebrating All Saints/All Souls Day for your Sunday worship service, be sure to make the explicit connection to God’s abiding nature when you do your time of ritual remembrance.
Written by guest writer, Nelson Cowan, Ph.D. Liturgical Studies: Boston University School of Theology.