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Sunday, November 2, 2014
All Saints' Sunday

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle; they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

William Walsham How’s “For All the Saints” (tune: Sine Nomine)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

On this All Saints’ Sunday, we remember those who have come before us. We remember both those whom we have known and loved and lost, and those whom we have never known but who, in ages past, have nevertheless shaped our common story. As Christians, we talk often about the importance of a community of faith. Here at Fourth Church and around the world, people of faith join together and live out their lives in relationship and community, because we proclaim that we are all part of the body of Christ. The amazing truth of God is that this body of which we are part extends beyond the boundaries of earthly life and time. We are gathered up in a holy community not only with those who share our present, but also all those who have come before us and all who will come after.

Though we carry these saints with us all the time, it is important that we take time within the seasons of our faith to honor them and remember all the ways that we are joined with them as one church. We draw strength and inspiration from their faith and courage, and we resolve to live lives of such witness that others might one day draw strength and inspiration from us.

This year, there is one saint particularly on my heart. Pam Byers entered the Church Triumphant this past week. She was the founding Executive Director of Covenant Network, and in her life and ministry, she worked tirelessly for a more inclusive church. This week I heard story after story as our common friends celebrated her life and the gift she was to the church. I didn’t know Pam, but as an out bisexual woman who will be ordained as a minister in just two weeks’ time, I know that I stand on the shoulders of Pam and other saints like her who fought hard to make ordinations like mine possible. I am endlessly grateful to be in community with them.


May we all be grateful, this All Saints’ Sunday, for all those whose shoulders we stand on—all those who have come before and who stand with us in the common story of our faith. Alleluia indeed. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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