Light in the darkness - 27/10/22
As the nights get darker we begin to mark a series of events where we remember both our history and the people of our past and also pay tribute to the communities we live, work and worship in.
This sunday we keep the Feast day of All Saints. All Saints’ Day celebrates those in whose lives we have seen the grace of God powerfully at work. It is an opportunity to give thanks for that grace, and for the wonderful ends to which it shapes a human life; it is a time to be encouraged by the example of the saints and to realise their prayers are one with ours. It is therefore a time where we remember our particular heroes and heroines of the faith, but is also a time where we remember that the same Spirit works in all of us. It is a chance to recall that sanctity may grow in ordinary circumstances, as well as the extraordinary crises of life.
In the evening we move on to keep All Souls. We remember that no Christian is solitary. Through baptism we become members one of another in Christ, members of a company of saints whose mutual belonging transcends death.
The commemoration of the Faithful Departed on All Souls’ Day (as part of a requiem at 18.30 in the case of Lancaster Priory) and the Feast of All Saints’ both celebrate this mutual belonging. We do not just remember the ‘famous’ saints (like Saint Mary the Virgin) but we also remember those closer to us. We remember with thanksgiving before God those whom we have known more directly: those who gave us life, or who nurtured us in faith.
A few short days later we will remember Guy Fawkes (Remember, Remember the 5th of November!) and his plot against parliament in the 17th Century. Whilst we remember the corruption of power that leads to protest, we recall that not all acts of protest are peaceful or have been responded to in a non-violent way. So we pray for all of those who protest in our own time – those who stand up for poverty, inclusion, the environment, fair wages and workers rights. We pray that their protests would shine a light that brings justice and peace.
Our contemporary celebrations of this season have evolved in my own lifetime to be more about Festivals of Light. Light Up Lancaster promises a feast of its own kind – championing the technical and artistic skills of the local community, the north-west and the wider country whilst celebrating the architecture of Lancaster. We are very much looking forward to seeing the light art around our beautiful city and inside our beloved Priory.
There is much to give thanks to God for this week and you would be most welcome to join us at the Priory as we do just that in our services. If you’re finding the darkness overwhelming, you will always find a listening ear and a place to light candles in church.
I hope and pray that as the dark nights draw closer, you too will find light, life and hope.
Vicar of Lancaster
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