Worship this week will celebrate All Saints Day Sunday and Reformation/Reconciliation Sunday and Vision Sunday. We will have a congregational meeting at the end of worship to vote on our Future Directions Vision, the culmination of a careful year-long process involving the entire congregation—a process that could be described as all the saints of the United Church of Strafford considering how the Holy Spirit is calling us to reform ourselves for the time ahead.
We are celebrating this vision at a turning point in human history that has come upon us sooner than we expected. Previous studies looked at a horizon of catastrophic climate change that was out fifty years or more. Now we see that the horizon is more like twenty years, and we have only twelve years to prevent the worst from happening.
The church holds a crucial part of the hope for turning this crisis around. The hope is that we will rise to be the saints that the world and future generations need us to be, and that we will act to bring about a reformation greater than any generation before us has had to do.
That hope rests on a solid foundation because our spiritual tradition offers teachings and models for how to live on earth in a way that is sustainable, just and at peace. We know the level of consciousness that humans need to attain to live that way—we call it having the heart and mind of Christ. We have a traditional, proven path to transformation of consciousness (the ancient contemplative path of kenosis, metanoia and agape) . We have seen examples of transformed people accomplishing miraculous social transformations within recent history.
This Sunday we will celebrate how the vision of our future direction serves that hope. The children will help us understand one of the most important sections of Jesus’ teaching for us to turn to when we seek to reform ourselves or our society (Luke 10:29-42) We will hear the joy of Psalm 126 from a time when God restored the fortunes of Zion and the people came home with shouts of joy, reminding us that all things are possible with God’s higher power.
We will sing the classic Reformation hymn, Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” and the classic All Saints Day hymn, “For All the Saints.” We will sing a new hymn, “How Many Years?” set to the beloved old hymn tune Azmon.
The choir will sing “God of Change and Glory,” “Halle, Halle, Halle” (the Caribbean Hallelujah) and a beautiful Swahili anthem, “Imbakwa.” Pianist and Choir Director Annemieke McLane will play two Bach Preludes and a piece by Edvard Grieg. Here is a version of the anthem: