The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps
Major Elizabeth Turner
A Prayer Meditation for All Saints Day
We give you thanks, O God,
for all the saints who ever worshiped you
Whether in brush arbours 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
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.
© 2020 Discipleship Ministries, United Methodist Church.
All Rights Reserved
Pray the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.
Bible Reading Revelation 7:9-17
Praise from the Great Crowd
9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throneNew Living Translation
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17 For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Hymns from the ‘hush!’
2020 has, on account of the global pandemic, had an enforced ‘hush’ in all of the places where previously wall to wall sound has reverberated. No singing in Churches, no chanting in football stadiums, no roar of encouragement for the sportsmen and women who were due to have participated in the Olympic Games this year. No operatic arias, musicals, concerts or symphonic practices, performances or recitals. No theatrical performances or cinematic viewings. nothing that would ordinarily have generated crowds and noises anywhere. A new decade began with a great ‘hush’. Whilst we have all understood the necessity and importance of this it has not been easy and many have suffered as a result.
For those who attend places of worship, these restrictions have been especially challenging, not least because a large proportion of those who frequent places of worship are of more mature years, with a significant proportion of those being unable to utilise the technology that would bring them a sense of connection. Yet through our weekly ‘Worship @ Home’ sheets, we have still been able to swell the chorus of unbroken praise that rings throughout the earth and beyond, despite the general hush of our days. Think of the sounds generated by creatures in the seas, lands and skies, the mystical music that scientists have recorded reverberating in outer space; and as our Bible reading for today reminds us, the praise that naturally fills all heaven itself. Richard Rohr writes, ‘Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing’ and for good reason.
In the Christmas carol, ‘It came upon a midnight clear’, written by Edmund Sears, we are encouraged to ‘hush the noise, ye men of strife and hear the angels sing’. Perhaps during this time of significant ‘hushing’, it’s a message that we need to take to heart. What might the message be that the angels want us to hear, to take account of? In our reading of Revelation, we are given a snapshot of life in heaven.
The beloved apostle John is in exile in Patmos for his part in promoting the good news about Jesus. As an apostle and evangelist, John is now to serve Jesus as a prophet, helping the Church to understand the things that are to come as Jesus, having learned these matters from the Father heart of God, calls on one of his ministering angels to share those things with John, so that he in turn may share the message more widely with the Church family. And so the book of Revelation is offered to us.
The scene in our segment of scripture for today is one of wall to wall praise. An awe inspiring, chest filling anthem is being sung in unison by the unnumbered throng of saints with a rejoinder by the angels. They sing ‘amen’ to all that the saints have sung, but they extend the song. Yes, God the Father and Jesus the Son, Saviour of the world, are truly worthy of their song, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Rev.7:10) But, to use the catchphrase of an old beloved Irish comedian whose stage name was Jimmy Cricket, the angels remind us ‘And there’s more!’ “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Rev.7:12) This is important because always with God there is so much more. As the apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians “all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (v20)
The angels want us to hear and to sing a fuller anthem, proclaiming that Jesus the Saviour of the world really is good news for everyone. Whatever a person’s situation, status, stress, or struggle, Jesus came to be ‘God with us’, so that we need not be alone during the journey of our life. Jesus can bless us with any necessary resources that we lack, he can bring light to our darkness, he can give us wisdom when we simply have no idea about what to do or say, or how to proceed. He can offer us forgiveness when we have seriously ‘blown it’, much to our relief and joyful thanksgiving. He is the solid, dependable rock upon which we can be securely based when it seems ‘all hell is let loose’ around us, and he can bestow the strength we need to overcome addiction, temptation, or just plain old weariness where we can no longer summon the will to press on. He can do all that for us, indeed for anyone young or old who is willing to enter into a relationship with Jesus, bringing to that one who trusts him all the blessing and might of God to bear on the wonders and woes of their walk through life on earth. Jesus wants to transform challenging experiences for good, remembering ‘that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them’ (Romans 8:28). As this is realised, then anthem after anthem of praise may resound from the heart of the girl or boy, man or woman who has opened their life up to Jesus.
Referring back to the carol ‘It came upon a midnight clear’, I discovered that there is another verse that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen or sung before. The words are as follows:
O ye, beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.
In these particular times of ‘hush’ when only singing at home alone is permitted, let’s use these quieter interludes to be ministered to by angels and capture the refrain of their singing; and in ways that are permitted, share the message with people nearby who are struggling.
One interesting way might be to follow business woman Rachel’s strategy, documented in The Word for Today. In a particularly difficult time she started to praise God in an exercise workout (don’t worry I’m not going to suggest you start to exercise unless you want to – as long as you start gently!). Taking each letter of the alphabet, Rachel thought of an attribute of God’s character starting with that letter and an attitude of praise began to grow stronger in her being. She began to worry less, trust God more and so saw positive change.
What if you wrote a letter to a friend or loved one making some space in that letter to write about an attribute of God and what that means to you? Starting with the letter A you might write ‘I believe God Answers prayer. I prayed about this situation (say what it was) and it was answered in this way (and describe how). You could write to that person 26 times over the next 26 weeks just dropping in a few sentences each time about an attribute of God and what it means to you. Or it could be part of a telephone conversation with someone. ‘I believe God is a Bountiful God, I received a surprise gift last week and it was exactly what I needed…’ You get the idea of the kind of thing you could write or say to someone over time. In this way you’d be singing God’s praises and inspiring another person at the same time.
Maybe you’d want to write each letter of the alphabet down on a piece of paper and think of an attribute of God for each one and make it a personal prayer song of praise! You might have to cheat when it comes to the letter X – ‘God you are an extraordinary God, I couldn’t see a way out of that situation I was in there (describe it) and you brought resolution in this way (say how!)’
Whatever happens, be sure to continue to find a way to sing God’s praise to bring a hymn from the ‘hush’ that is enveloping us at this time. For God is a good, loving and faithful God, he will bring us through these uncertain days and he is worthy of all our praises.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long
Beneath the heavenly strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong
And man at war with man hears not
The tidings which they bring
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing
Abba, Father, you are the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End.
You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You are my Creator and my counsellor, guiding me daily to make wise decisions. You are my Comforter in sorrow, pain, or distress. I praise you for drawing near to me when I draw near to you. You are El Roi, the God who sees me, and you are Eternal, Lord. You are my heavenly Father, and the father of the fatherless. How great are you and your faithfulness, God, day in and day out!
You are holy, yet you made a way for me to approach you. I praise you for being my Helper, and for your Holy Spirit’s conviction, correction, and protection in my life. You are invisible, but I see you with eyes of faith. You are Jehovah God, and Jehovah Jireh, the One who provides for all my needs. I praise you as my Jehovah Rapha, my God who heals, and for being Jehovah Rah, My faithful Shepherd. You are not just King, but you are King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. And yes, you are Jesus, the name above all names.
With my whole heart I praise you, God. You are Messiah, the soon and coming King. You are omniscient; you know all things. You are omnipresent, everywhere at all times. You are my Peace, my Protector, and the High Priest who became my Redeemer and Sacrifice forever. You died to set me free; you rose again and gave me victory over death. No longer am I enslaved in sin; you are my Salvation, my Rescuer and my Refuge. You give me hope within.
I praise you because you are trustworthy and true. You are my Teacher, and your understanding and wisdom is beyond finite minds; you promise wisdom to me when I ask. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Lord, I love that you delight in me and that you rejoice over me with singing. You know the number of hairs on my head, and you are always thinking of me.
You are preparing a place for me so that one day I will live with you forever. Maybe then—and only then—will I be able to praise you adequately in a way not possible here on earth—the way you truly deserve.
All my love, all my praise to you. Lord, oh, Lord.
How excellent is your name in which I pray!