All Saints: Remembering and Being Servants

Every year, on All Saints’ Day (November 1) and the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, I find myself praying and droning a rather moving rendition of “Remember your servants, Lord, when you come in your kingly power.” Attributed to the Russian Orthodox liturgy and included in The Hymnal 1982 of The Episcopal Church, this adaptation of The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) gets me every time. Watch out for the flood gates!

Antiphon: Remember your servants, Lord, when you come in your kingly power. Verses: Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when the world reviles you and persecutes you; and utters all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake: Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven. Antiphon: Remember your servants, Lord, when you come in your kingly power.

The richness of the discipleship words, ebb and flow of the tune, and the shivering, lush chords remind and connect me with the saints of God, known and unknown, who have gone before me and you. They remind us of the saints of God who live among us and the lives to which each of us is called as a servant of God through baptism. They hold up the commitment that is intrinsic to the God and faith that lives within and invite a certain paying attention to Jesus’ words in the gospel of Matthew (18:18). “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Indeed, whatever we do in thought, word, and deed actually matters.

All Saints’ Sunday 2017 at St. Peter’s is a day of rejoicing as we remember the countless servants of God; baptize new servants, William, Imogen, Terren, Josie, and Amelia; offer pledge commitments to Giving with Gratitude: Support Life at St. Peter’s; and renew our baptismal covenants to be servants of God. It may even reveal heaven on earth.

Thanks be to God for our parish vision to become a community of bold followers of Jesus, a crowd that effects good change for the world, a place known for radical love and welcome, and a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte. Together, we are bound to be servants and even saints, as the beloved children of our God who is and will be pleased.

God’s peace and blessings as we grow in faith,

– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector