Almighty God, you have so knit together your elect in once communion and fellowship…
We began our worship service by acknowledging how God has connected us – not just with one another, but with all people in all times and all places. We are knit together with all those who have come before us as well as all those who will come after us. We are more than a piece of fabric or a bolt of cloth. We are a beautiful tapestry, each one of us contributing something unique and glorious to God’s vision for all humanity.
Knit together with what is past as well as with what is to come. This is more than fancy theological talk, it is a mindset, a perspective, and a statement of faith giving us purpose and hope.
I spent some time this past week reading through the Rector’s annual reports at previous congregational meetings (I know, you don’t have to say anything!). In the years leading up to the 1989 renovation of the Parish Hall and kitchen, Jim Newsom, our rector at the time, reminded people the space in need of attention was almost 100 years old and had not seen significant change since 1921. He saw the building as a gift from the past and he was driven to make it right for generations to come. He possessed a ‘knit-together’ mindset, giving him perspective, and creating a sense of purpose.
On Tuesday we will exercise our right to vote. It is a sacred moment and obligation. When I walk into my polling place free of fear and with no concern of reprisal for how I fill out my ballot I will think of soldiers who fought and died first in the Revolutionary War to establish this right and then in subsequent wars to defend it. And I will think about future generations. I will cast my vote for candidates I deem best suited to carry forward our government for the next generation and generations to follow. Election Day is a ‘knit-together’ moment in our national life.
All Saints’ Sunday is a knit together moment as well. This year the Worship Committee has come up with a new twist for our annual streamer tradition. We thought it might be interesting to write the names of those we love but see no longer on individual tags hanging in the space on invisible line. I sat back in the pews earlier in the week taking in the sight and evaluating it. I like how the tags float and move above the chancel. And I like how you can see through them to the Resurrected Jesus in the triptych above the altar. His arms are open to the tags and his gaze is fixed on them. It is a poignant and powerful visual reminder of how every celebration of the Eucharist knits us together: things past, things present, and things to come.
Through our collect we prayed…
…that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you…
It reminds us a part of the purpose of All Saints’ Sunday is to strengthen us along the way. It is to help us eventually find our way to the “ineffable joys” God has prepared for us. “Ineffable” is not a word you hear thrown around much in everyday conversion. It means “that which cannot be described” or “that which is beyond words.” There awaits for us something so wonderful we cannot even find a way to speak about it.
I was thinking about my father earlier in the week. He died 37 years ago when I was 20. Who was he, I wondered. I cannot say my sisters or I knew him well. We knew him only as a father. It occurred to me there are only two people alive who knew him with any great depth – my aunt and my mother. Sometime in the not so distant future they too will be gone and with them any living sense of who my father was.
As I pondered this during a nice fall walk in the woods I realized the same will be true for me. One day I will be gone, followed eventually by everyone who knows me. All that will be left will be copies of Rector’s Reports from Annual Meetings and who in their right mind will ever go back and read them?
Surely all of this would be too depressing to bear if not for one thing. We live in a world God is knitting together. We are blessed by what has come before us. We do our best to be faithful in our time. And somehow, someway, I believe something ineffable awaits and once there I believe we will know and see all that has been essential and good to what we have added to the tapestry. Nothing in the tapestry will ever be lost. Every part of it – you and me and all those we love but see no longer and all those no one even remembers – will be a part of something indescribable and eternal.