These Are They

These Are They

All Saints Day, Year A

All Saints Day falls on a Sunday this year. John Wesley considered it one of the greatest celebrations in the life of the church. “How superstitious are they who scruple giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints!” said Wesley in 1756. Year after year, he commented on the celebration of the saints. It was a festival he dearly loved.

As stated on the Planning Worship page for this service, you will have to determine the mood for this All Saints Day service. It is always a time of remembrance, a way of celebrating the witness of those who bore your name in the past. But this year, there may be a special poignancy, as we haven’t been able to properly grieve and say goodbye to those we have lost in these recent months. So, while this isn’t the space for a funeral service, it would not be out of line to let those prayers speak to this moment, a moment of remembrance and grief, as well as a profound hope for the future.

Let there be candles lit in memory of those who are named and remembered. For those who may be worshiping online, invite them to find a candle to light as they say a name or many names of those they want to remember in this space. Candle lighting can be done while physically distancing, if you are worshiping in person. Have ushers or hosts help keep the lines far enough apart. But let the flame represent the Spirit as well as the spirits of those who are still a part of us in the mystery that is eternity.

Invite the families of the honored dead to prepare a brief biography, a few lines to tell something of the grace of their lives to be read or published or posted online for the whole congregation to read or hear. Perhaps these contemporary stories could be interspersed with historic stories of the saints of the church or community or the faith in general. Let the modern saints reside alongside the saints we remember from history.

This is a day of looking forward, even as we remember the past we shared with the beloved of God. We long for the fulfillment of the promises and the in-breaking of eternity that we might stand with those who have gone before. So, while there is sadness and the grief of loss, there is also the joy of the promise. So, we sing a song with the saints of God (712, United Methodist Hymnal) in hope and celebration of all that is ours in God.

Prayer (Pastoral or Opening Meditation)

That one that I loved, O God, is now with you.
I can say that, not knowing “how” or “where,”
but say it because it makes no sense
that so rich and full a life
would come to an abrupt end …
except for memories.
Still, I am bereft for she is not with me.
I listen to all the clichés of my friends,
spoken to console me:
“She is better off.”
“She is past her pain and suffering.”
“She is in heaven,” whatever that means.
I listen and am not consoled.
My grief is selfish.
I want to feel her touch
and hear her voice
and see her smile.
I am confident she is with you,
and I am just as confident, O Lord,
you understand how it is with me.
I cannot help recalling times
I might have been gentler, softer, more thoughtful.
I wish I could live some hours over.
I wish I could say “I love you” just one more time.
These failures I must accept.

“Time heals all things,” they say.
I do not believe Time does anything.
You, O God, are Healer and Helper.
You can heal me in time,
help me through the lonely days and long nights.
You can give me renewed zest for going on
and entering into life once more.

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I believe that.
But right now I grieve; I hurt; I am bereft.
Thanks be to God who understands
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Kenneth G. Phifer, A Book of Uncommon Prayer, Upper Room Books, 1981, pp. 106-107)

Call to Worship

Leader: We have come to affirm our historic faith.

People: To worship the God of our mothers and fathers.

Leader: We have come to remember God’s benefits to us the living.

People: To respond in thanksgiving to the mighty works of God in our lives.

Leader: We have come to affirm our trust in the God of all futures,

People: To whose name be blessing and honor, glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

(Ruth Duck, Bread for the Journey, Pilgrim Press, 1981, p.56.)

Opening sentences

Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to secure me: against snares of devils,
against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near, alone and in a crowd.


Opening Prayer

(inspired by Revelation 7: 9-17)

We seek and find you in Creation, O God,
in the world you have made and the people you have called.
Your vulnerable, powerful Lamb is our shepherd and guide,
leading us to share the shelter of your abundant life.

Let us recognize you here
in the beauty of this morning and in its challenge;

may the Risen One, your Shepherd-Lamb,
lead us to act for your justice and peace:
so that all may drink from your springs of the waters of life,
and find their tears of sorrow and pain wiped away.
In the name of the Risen One we pray: Amen.

(from the United Church of Christ. Posted on Wild and Precious Life. Reposted:

The Corporate Confession

Leader: God, you send us saints …

People: And we imprison them, or nail them on crosses. Have mercy.

Leader: God, you send us saints …

People: And we persuade ourselves that they are fools, or meddlers or incompetents. Have mercy.

Leader: God, you send us saints …

People: And we hate them for reminding us that our comfort requires the poverty of others. Have mercy.

Leader: God, you send us saints …

People: And we ignore them. Have mercy.

(Some moments of reflective silence)

Words of Assurance

God’s Word to us is a word of forgiveness, a word of assurance, a word of grace. We are loved and accepted because we are we and God is God and nothing can finally separate us from our Creator, our Parent, our Sustainer. Amen.

(Wheadon United Methodist Church, Illinois, Flames of the Spirit, Ruth Duck Ed., Pilgrim Press, 1985, p.55.)

A Prayer Meditation for All Saints Day

We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you
Whether in brush arbors or cathedrals,
Weathered wooden churches or crumbling cement meeting houses
Where your name was lifted and adored.

We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise:
Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil,
Strong hands and those gnarled with age
Holy hands
Used as wave offerings across the land.

We thank you, God, for hardworking saints;
Whether hard-hatted or steel-booted,
Head ragged or aproned,
Blue-collared or three-piece-suited
They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come.

Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.
Bless the memories of your saints, God.
May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.


Corporate Prayer

Let us pray (in silence) [as we rejoice and keep festival in honor of all the saints]


Almighty God,
your saints are one with you
in the mystical body of Christ:
give us grace to follow them
in all virtue and holiness
until we come to those inexpressible joys
which you have prepared for those
who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever.


Words of Assurance: Revelation 21: 1-6

there is a new heaven,
a new earth
and a new city,
where the river of life flows,
where the tree of life bears fruit in every season.

This heaven,
this city,
this river,
this tree
are a vision of your life
reborn, restored, and renewed.

Thanks be to God!



(based on Revelation 7: 12, 16-17)

Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power
and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen!

We go out to be God’s people.

Go in strength to be the saints of God
for you will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike you, nor any scorching heat.

We go out to be God’s people.

Live the way of God with confidence
for God is your shepherd,
and will guide you to the spring of life.

We go out to be God’s people.

(from Seasons of the Spirit: All Saints Day—Year A, published by WoodLake Publishing. Reposted:

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All Saints Day, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

All Saints Day, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes