Feast of St Simon & St Jude – 28 October, All Saints & All Souls Day – 4 November 2018

What is a saint? And, what does it matter?
This week we are remembering St Jude and St Simon, apostles of Christ. That is Judas the son of James, sometimes called Thaddeus, as opposed to the other Judas, Judas Iscariot, and Simon
the Zealot rather than Simon Peter. Next week we celebrate and remember not only All Souls’ Day, a time when we fondly or commemoratively, remember the dead, but also All Saints Day,
where we remember and commemorate those saints who have gone before as well as those saints who walk among us.

So, let’s have a look at what, or who a saint is. In traditional Christian thought, a saint is often known as a ‘hallow’. It’s where we get the term ‘All Hallows’ eve, from. The night of the saints, or souls. October 31st, ‘All Hallows Eve’ refers to the night where the veil between life and death is thinner and God’s eternal life and kingdom is more accessible, or even for some, visible or tangible. These days, ‘All Hallows’ eve has been hijacked by Halloween, with negative and scary tones added to the traditional understanding of a ‘holy’, ‘thin’, or sacred place.

As for a person who is recognised as a saint, they are unusually a person who has or has lived a life with an exceptional degree of holiness. They can also be described as one with a particular closeness, or likeness to God. And depending on which Christian denomination you speak to, the term ‘saint’ also generally means, any believer who is ‘in Christ’ and in whom Christ dwells. In other words the term Saint could quite literally refer to any one of us, living or dead.

Largely people decree that saints and souls are not like the Halloween portent of the dead walking among us, or the ‘living dead’, or even the actual dead, but that saints are anyone who
believe in the good news of Christ and lives a godly, Christian life, even though they might fail. In fact human failure is almost a pre-requisite of sainthood; just look at our mate, Simon-Peter. If this disciple who constantly misunderstood Jesus teaching, got it wrong and was still worthy of sainthood, then most of us are too; we are in very good company.

The word Saint, originated within Christianity but over time, has been adopted or adapted by almost all other major religions in some form or another. These include Jewish, Islam, Hindu,
Rishi, Sikh, and at times, Buddhist. Depending on the religion, saints though are important historical figures which not only link us to our God, but to our human past.

But I guess, what I’d like to know is what does all this talk of Saints and souls mean for us in 2018?
Can you identify any living saints, among you?
Or can you recognise Christ’s sainthood within yourselves?

And, as we approach All Hallows’ Eve, can you remember the true meaning of that thin, sacred, holy place, where heaven and earth, touch and God is closer than before.

Have a great week,

Shalom (God’s deep abiding love and peace, be with you)

Donna (Vicar, St Peter’s Wynnum)

Pentecost 21 and 22 – 14 and 21 October 2018

The Anglican tradition serves the Church well. With the three pillars of Anglicanism, Scripture – Tradition – and Reason at the heart of our Church we can enjoy the freedom of being a body of diversity which encourages inclusion and deep thinking. There is, of course, the same danger in our church, as in any other long-standing organisation with tradition, which is that we may become comfortable with what is familiar and be resistant when a challenge arises, to think or change.

In fact there may be many things that we say and do in Church which we might not think about, beyond the capacity to remember the liturgy by rote and the hymns by tune, where God is waiting for us to unlock the potential to take our faith beyond the comfortable and grow into a new way of being which is more life-giving.

A few weeks ago, I was challenged to think about a particular part of our liturgy which I had always just accepted. The part that it had not occurred to me to contemplate  deeply, beyond my obedience in proclaiming it, (until a saint of the parish shared her own thoughts about it) is the mystery of faith.

The mystery of faith is a three-sentence proclamation, which we engage in every Sunday during the thanksgiving prayers of Holy Communion, after the institution of the narrative of the Eucharist. It is also called the memorial acclamation and is commonly said together with the priest and the congregation joining in:

“Christ has died. Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

Originally this came from the rite of St James, used in the orthodox church for centuries
proclaimed as:
“Your death, our Lord, we commemorate,
Your resurrection we confess and
Your second coming we wait for. May Your mercy be upon us all.”
It was only introduced to the Roman rite for Mass, where we (the Anglican Church) got it from, in 1969. Previously the people had only proclaimed the Sanctus (Holy Holy  Holy…) and said ”Amen” after the final doxology, the rest of the liturgy was celebrated by the priest.

In the English missal the following four options were for use as the memorial acclamation:
1. ”Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
2. ”Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.”
3. ”When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.”
4. ”Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.”

The first of these should be familiar to you as it is the only memorial acclamation used in our prayer book in the Anglican Church of Australia. At the Synod Eucharist service last Friday night, the second mystery of faith was sung, which jolted me out of my Eucharistic rhythm and made me think about this memorial acclamation that I and all those around me are confidently proclaiming again and again. I encourage and challenge you in the coming weeks to ponder what these words which we proclaim, mean to you, as an acclamation or expression of your faith and what they say about who God is for you.

The Rev’d Jamee