Matthew T. Phillips

All Saints’ Day Prayer

All Saints’ Sunday (A)
Union Grove United Methodist Church
Hillsborough, North Carolina

O God, our rock, our fortress and our might,

Across the ages you have sent us more witnesses than we could recognize, more help than we could seek, and more of yourself than we have been able to love. We thank you especially today for the saints of our faith: those who have freed us to worship you, those who have revived our faith and spoken your calling to us, those who have taught us about the past that we might be prepared for the future, and those who have been Christ to us, listening, loving, teaching, and serving us.

Teach us to recognize the sources of wisdom, holiness, and love that you have sent us, whether we find them in the Bible, in history books, in our family stories, or next to us in the pew. Open to us the real, fleshy, complicated, and spirit-filled lives of your saints, so that we might see just enough of ourselves in them to realize that you call us too. Help us to find strength, inspiration, and challenge: in the story of Moses, a reluctant foreigner who spoke for you and challenged an oppressive government, in the protection of a scared mother, Hagar, who left all she knew to protect a child she had unwillingly borne. In the raw energy of Paul, a vocal opponent of the faith whose sight you had to take so that he might see. In the faith of a searching teacher and monk, Martin Luther, who learned that your salvation is a gift to us, not earned by anything we manage to do, and of a searching preacher, Martin Luther King, who reminded us again that all we are is a gift from you, and that to scorn anyone created in your image is to be unfaithful. Perhaps most importantly, God, teach us to see wisdom, holiness, and love in the lives closest to us. In a servant and supporter of the church who carries to the end of his life rich stories of who we are. In a mother who lived and died with strong faith, spending much of her energy near the end of her life getting her children to church, that they might learn to thank you for her life. In a gentleman of the type that seems to no longer exist who held a family together, and loved everyone you met, exactly like you taught.

When you, our creating, redeeming and sustaining God, seem to be distant from our needs, our pain, and our joy, your saints are all around us, and thus so are you. For the gift of their witness and your Word, for care from their hands and from yours, we thank you.

In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, who lived here among your saints and sent the Holy Spirit to shape us all as servants of God, Amen.