All Saints-tide - the Kingdom Season

The Kingdom Season: All Saints to Advent

The clocks have gone back and the dark time of the year is upon us, yet in the November darkness, as we look ahead to Advent so  we celebrate  some great Festivals of Light: All Saints, St. Martin, St. Hilda of Whitby St. Cecelia,  the Feast of Christ the King and St. Andrew’s Day. I love seeing light coming out of our  church through the windows and doors– surely a sign of what the whole community of the Church is meant to be?

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”  (Heb.12.1f.)  The image is of an amphitheatre such as a football stadium! The place is packed with spectators (“a cloud of witnesses”—the ) who are cheering us on as we “run the race” or play the game. Those who now rest in Christ know how hard it can be to “run with perseverance the race set before us”, and  how often we fail.  Yet they have won the victory—because every time they fell , they gave  themselves afresh to the healing of Christ who has won the victory over evil and sin. That is why we pray: to commit ourselves over and again to Christ in penitence for past failure in in sure confidence and hope in Him for the future. Through  baptism, through scripture, through prayer, through the bread and wine of Eucharist, we are  filled with praise and hope.

All Saints Day (November 1 )

We celebrate the saints and heroes of the faith, those whose lives show us something of God and, on All Souls Day, remember our own departed friends and relatives.

St. Martin of Tours (November 11)

St. Martin was born in modern-day Hungary and was forced by his pagan  father not to become a monk but to join the Roman army. There he became a medical orderly, gave away most of his pay and insisted on living peacefully and prayerfully.  After 25 years service he was free, and was  baptised. He founded a monastery in Poitiers  in the year 360, the first in France. This became  a centre for missionary work. In 372, Martin was elected Bishop of Tours by the local people who loved him much. He continued his monastic lifestyle as a bishop, remaining in that ministry until his death in the year 397.

St. Hilda of Whitby (Nov 19)

Hilda was born into the Northumbrian royal family – her uncle was King Edwin, the first Christian King of Northumbria. Hilda and Edwin were both baptised by St. Paulinus in York on Easter Eve 627. Aged 33 she took vows as a nun  joining a community in East Anglia. Later she spent some time at a convent at Chelles in Brittany.  St. Aidan encouraged her to return to Northumbria to set up  the first religious community for women in the Kingdom.  Hilda began her work at Hartlepool – the site of the monastery is still used as the parish Church. Nine years later King Oswy gave her land at Whitby . She trained many as priests and bishops. Today Anglican nuns of the Order of the Holy Paraclete live, work and pray in Whitby. 

Saint Cecelia (Nov 22)

Best known as the Patron Saint of music and musicians Cecelia was a high-born Roman of the late 2nd century. A devout Christian since early childhood she was forced into marriage with a pagan—whom she converted, the first of many souls she brought to Christ. The Emperor Severus ordered her death, initially by suffocation and then by being struck through the throat with a sword—from which she lingered for three days, hearing it is said, heavenly music. We can be very thankful that our church has such a  thriving musical tradition which includes many  children and young people, how about writing the choir or musicians a little “thank you note” on St. Cecelia's’ Day? Its so easy to take people for granted.

The Feast of Christ the King

This is the last Sunday of the Church Year. Soon we shall begin again in Advent—yet not a totally new beginning for as we journey through each Christian Year we always learn something new, deepen our faith and enrich our prayer. The Feast of Christ the King celebrates the whole Salvation Work of Christ who, through his death and resurrection, brings in God’s  Kingdom of Love, Truth and Justice—a Kingdom which we seek to serve and for which we pray daily: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” . How about making your own prayer rope as an aid to prayer? Dating  from the very first days of the Church it is a simple rope with knots on, on each knot a prayer is said:  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” You can vary this by praying ,say for someone ill: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Jane.” Mercy, here means “love and care” - We hold that person in Gods’ healing presence. To make your own prayer rope you need a length of thick wool (better than string) and perhaps a small wooden cross. Space 10 knots along the wool and then tie in the cross and then loop the whole together in a circle. A good use is when waiting in a queue or sitting on the bus or whatever—the rope helps hold one’s thoughts together and to focus on giving praise to Christ the King.

St. Andrew (November 30)

“ How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” (Rom.10.14) St. Andrew the fisherman became a “fisher of men and a great missionary:  evangelism is not merely words: evangelism  is about showing people the promise of the fullness of life in Christ through care and service to others in Christ’s Name. Please pray for the missionary and evangelistic work of the Church worldwide—and please pray that we too may draw others to Christ.

 

 

 


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