All Saints and Baptism. Matthew 5.1-12

We are here today to celebrate. And we have two main things to give thanks for today.

Firstly, we are joining with the church around the world to celebrate All Saints Day, where we give thanks for the saints, their work, lives and their examples.

Secondly, and of great importance is the baptism of …..

It’s always a great celebration for the church when we can baptise and welcome new members into our family.

And in my mind, these two celebrations work well together. Where we give thanks for the lives of those who have gone before us and those who have ensured that knowledge and belief in God has continued down the generations.

And where we give thanks for the potential of these new lives, and pray for their role in this clear continued line as their parents, godparents and all of us gathered here make promises to guide them.

It is equally as important for us to look at the future as it is at the past, and i know all too well that we in the church may like to look at the past a little too much at times. But at other times there can be great lessons for us waiting to be re-discovered.

I don’t know what you think of when I say the word saint.

Possibly you think of the names of people in the bible, or of the stained glass windows around us. Maybe you can think of some historical saints and a story or two of what they have done. But I’d like to offer you two definitions I found a few years back of what a saint is like.

The first is ‘Saints are people who aren’t afraid to live with both the gruesome and the glorious. They are not embarrassed to struggle with the great division between good and evil, life and death, heaven and hell. They are called forth into the unknown and return home not only safe but triumphant.’

We may gulp at this, and think to ourselves that we could never be saints, but I ask that you don’t make that judgement too quickly.

The second came from a little girl and was an ‘out of the mouths of babes’ moment when she was looking at a stained glass window and said, saints are people who let light shine through them.

We are given some guidance in our readings for this morning. In a dramatic reversal of the customs of this world, Jesus foretells the truth of what we’re in store for, and what we need to be working towards.

Unsure of your direction in life? You’re blessed.

Caught under the weight of grief and loss? Joy comes in the morning.

Undervalued and not heard by those around you? God hears you.

Groaning with longing for a moment of respite? The comforter has come.

Campaigning for peace and righteousness, only to be trampled down by violence and abuse, and those spreading lies to discredit you? God is travailing right alongside you.

The saints, Jesus reminds us, aren’t simply those who seem to have it all figured out, whose prayer life is perfect, whose service to church and community are faultless, and who have left a legacy that the rest of us will spend a lifetime aspiring to realize for ourselves.

On the contrary: The saints, Jesus tells us and John reminds us, are those who have suffered – and some who suffer still, even in our midst – and yet are able to praise God all the more.

The saints are those who have known the pain of grief and the sting of death, and still manage to find a way to sing, “Alleluia!”

The saints are those who have been excluded and ignored by every corner of society and yet still find ways to seek and serve Christ, loving their neighbour as themselves.

We are just as much saints as those we first call to mind as being holy and saintly, we are the saints of today and so on this day of All Saints, we not only celebrate the saints that have gone before us, and those who seem more like myths then historical figures of inspiration, but we are also celebrating the saints who are around today, those who have encouraged us in our faith, inspire us to be better Christians, and to follow God with a stronger faith.

In a few moments Richard will be blessing the good and holy St Albans tap water that we’ll be using to it to baptise our six and we’ll be using many symbols which date back to the earliest of times, and I believe they are incredibly fortunate that they not only have the saints of old and the traditions and symbols of the church to guide and teach them into what it means to be a Christian.

But they have the saints on earth in their family in the church and their families at home.

Those of you who have come as part of the baptism party have been asked today to be as saint like in your life as you can for the sake of that child, you are asked to be the best example to them you can be and to teach them all the important lessons you can which will help them grow into the people they will become.

So today we give thanks for All Saints, those we know, those we don’t for their lives, and for the inheritance of faith that has been passed from generation to generation. And we give thanks that we have the chance to pass it on to a new generation.

We pray for those being baptised at the start of their journeys, and we pray for ourselves that we can be the persons through whom the light of God shines and who turns the world workings upside down.

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Family Worship – Road to Emmaus

Opening Prayer
We need your presence on the long road, Lord.
The road between fear and hope,
the road between the place where all is lost and the place of resurrection.
Like the disciples walking the road to Emmaus, we are in need of your company!
Jesus, stand among us, in your risen power, let this time of worship, be a holy hour. Amen
(From Re:Worship)

Song – In Christ Alone.

Game – I Spy

Theme – If you haven’t guessed by now, our theme for today is all about seeing. We’ll have a story in a few moments about two men who couldn’t see what was right in front of them.
Sometimes we don’t see the things around us. Like our game, we needed more than one guess know what is around us.

To be able to see something, we need to look for it. That sounds simple enough, but we don’t always do it.
I remember when I bought my first car. I was looking at different styles, and even different colours. And after I’d seen a car I liked, I was surprised in the days after how many of the same car I’d seen!!!

It also happened to me in school, when we were learning about something in particular, like birds, or the project we did about litter and rubbish, you start seeing it everywhere.

We need to make a special effort to see what is around us.
Before we hear our reading for today lets (try) and sing our second song (with the words)

Song – God’s not dead.

Story – The Lion Storyteller Bible – The Road to Emmaus

Talk – It’s easy for us to look at these two men, these friends of Jesus as being very silly and stupid. How could they not see their friend?? I’d hope that if I started walking with you down the street, that you would recognise me, and not think I was a stranger. But these so called friends didn’t know they were walking with Jesus.

They thought he was dead. They’d probably seen him die, just a few days earlier. So the last thing they had been expecting was to see Jesus, alive and walking around. Jesus felt very far away for them.

Sometimes Jesus seems very far away from us as well. We know that Jesus is alive and is with us. But we don’t always feel it. And there are many things that can stop us seeing Jesus in our lives. One of the most common problems is that they are too busy.
We have lots of things in our life that keep us busy don’t we. Work, school, families, friends, tv, reading, playing, shopping, gardening, cooking, cleaning, going out, and so on and so on. There are only 24 hours in each day but we like to fill them all up.
And when we get too busy, often the first thing to go, is our time to talk and listen to God. We forget about God, and we stop seeing him around.
Selfishness can also stop us from seeing Jesus around us. When we think only about ourselves and what we want. Or when we think, ‘What can I get from God today?’ ‘What can God do for me?’

This is not the belief that we share because believing in Jesus means that our questions are not about what we can get, but rather, what can I do to give thanks for this world God has given us, and this life, with all its good things.

If we think only about ourselves, we will miss Jesus, when we talk only about ourselves, we miss Jesus, when everything is about us, we will miss Jesus.

Jesus’ friends were so busy talking, and walking, that they missed what was in front of them until they stopped that evening. It wasn’t until they stopped and shared something together that they realised Jesus had been with them the whole time. And it’s not until we stop and listen that we’ll realise that Jesus is always with us.

Jesus told us that we have to love God, and we have to love each other. And when we do these two things, we will see Jesus around us.

So what can we do?
We need to stop sometimes. We need to make time to talk and listen to God. And we need to be reminded of all the things that we have around us. We need to stop and look, and see what is in front of us. And then say thank you.
Lord, help us not to miss you. Help us to stop and open our eyes to you at work in our lives.
Amen.

Song – Open our eyes Lord

Prayers – Post it thank you.

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Song – Alleluia, alleluia

Blessing and dismissal

Family Service Easter 2

Has anyone ever told you something that you didn’t believe?

Sometimes its hard to believe things if you only hear about them from someone else.

Last week we celebrated Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead. And we heard that all the disciples were told about it. Today we heard the Jesus came to them and told them not be sad, but to be happy, because he brings them peace, they should be happy.

But one of his friends wasn’t there, Thomas missed this meeting with Jesus and found it hard to believe that he actually came back.

Sometimes its hard to believe things we are told.

If I told you there was something yummy hiding in our Easter garden that someone here can have, would you believe me?

Does anyone want to look?

I was telling the truth!!!!!!

You didn’t know for sure unless you went to see though, and that was the same for Thomas, he couldn’t believe his friends until he saw Jesus for himself.

Sometimes its hard to believe that God loves us, and is there for us all the time. Having faith is sometimes really hard, and sometimes we need to see before we can believe. But Jesus isn’t walking around now like he was back them with his disciples, with his friends. So how can we believe.

We can believe by looking around us, at the world God created for us, at the family and friends around us who love us and take care for us, at all the people in the past who have told us about Jesus and all the things God has done to help us. We can believe when we see people doing what Jesus taught us, loving, caring, sharing, taking care of, being a peace with others.

thomas