Monday, November 03, 2008

All Souls

"All below and all above
One in joy and light and love"

That was the message that I had hoped to convey with this morning's service, the Eucharist for All Souls, with Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.
For no particular reason I'd not presided at this during my curacy, but had the feeling that it might very easily stray into the mournful and morbid. St M's, for example, even had a set of black vestments for the occasion (though I'm not sure they were actually used in recent years).
In contrast, I wanted to remind those present of their membership of the Communion of Saints, the great body of the Church stretching through time and space. I wanted to pick up the thought that, when we gather to share the Sacrament we are feasting with all those whom we have loved who are now in glory.
We had an enormous list of names to remember - well over 80 - and a congregation large enough to need extra chairs in the Lady Chapel. Very few of those present today had come on Saturday - reinforcing my feeling that there was value in offering both sorts of commemoration.- and almost everyone there came up to receive Communion.
As Common Worship suggests, we had the commemoration of the departed after Communion.M. the Reader and I shared this, reading name after name...some I had known and loved, some I'd accompanied in their final hours but most of them were "just names" to me.
But each one had been placed on the lists with love, regret and hope and as the names went on I had a growing sense of all of them crowding around the table...
At the end of the commemoration, I read the Russian Kontakion and felt the deep reality that means that Alleluia is part of our grieving, that we do sing even while we mourn, because in the end we can trust that no-one will be lost, that everyone is held secure in the endless love of God.
It was incredibly, unexpectedly joyful.

Give rest, O Christ, to thy servants with thy Saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more; neither sighing
but life everlasting.
Thou only art immortal, the Creator and Maker of man,
and we are mortal, formed of the earth
and unto earth we shall return.
For so thou didst ordain, when thou createdst me, saying:
Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
All we go down to the dust, and, weeping o'er the grave,we make our song;
alleluya, alleluya, alleluya.


Gannet Girl said...

Kathryn, thank you so much for sharing this with me, both here and at my place.

Songbird said...

It sounds just wonderful.

Mary Beth said...

How perfectly lovely! Thank you.

Cal said...

Somehow I managed to miss both the list and the service this year.

(I'm pretty sure I've only missed one Sunday service recently so how I managed not to know what date and time the service was I don't know)

But it feels weird not to have 'done' it - the first time in a number of years that I haven't put my mother on the list or sat in church and lit a candle as her name is read out.

I do find it a very special service.