Reconcile and Restore

Originally published by Ministry & Liturgy Magazine, August 2012
– PDF version –

All Saints: 
Almighty ever-living God,by whose gift we venerate in one celebrationthe merits of all the Saints,bestow on us, we pray,through the prayers of so many intercessors,an abundance of the reconciliation with youfor which we earnestly long.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity ofthe Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.  
The Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ the King: 
Almighty and ever living God,whose will is to restore all thingsin your beloved Son, the King of the universe,grant we pray,that the whole creation, set free from slavery,may render your majesty serviceand ceaselessly proclaim your praise.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unityof the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.             

I pray this collect believing that in the end everything will work out. I long to be found among the beloved of God. I wait for our chaotic world to be restored in peace. I realize this may sound naïve to so many people who face homelessness tonight or who struggle to make it through a cold winter with no money for fuel or food. I have come to a deeper trust in God even though I cannot see through my fogged-up windows on November days. I pray this collect on behalf of people who cannot see beyond tonight or who cannot trust anyone beyond their circumstances in life.  November prayer is often harsh, gritty and uncertain for many people. This is why we venerate God’s grace for the saints and wait for their intercession for our needs and our futures.

These sacred liturgies of November challenge every believer to reflect on death. I pray the collect on the first day of November being reminded of friends, parishioners and family who have died during this past year. I also wait for healing for people who cannot bear the burdens of sickness, bodily pain and emotional stress much longer. On All Saints Day, I am consoled by heavenly believers who now feast with Christ, who model love for the rest of us who wait on earth.

We begin this month in every worshipping community reflecting on death and remembering the saints of our faith. These role models teach us that unity with Christ after death begins by how we live our lives on this earth in our time. People of the past who were given the courage to let go of pride, anger, jealousy, false power and hatred reveal the love of Christ even today. Their lives were changed by a deep love of God and a love for people in need. Each saint lived and prayed from a radical and profound relationship with God. They also reached out in love and purpose to others in the world.

This collect expresses our prayer of praise for all God has given people in the past. We are humbled believers who long for such grace and gift in our own lives. We all face tough times, obstacles to faith and infidelity toward God. We all may think within our own lives that grace is not enough, or that our prayer will not bring what we truly desire. The holy men and women of the past moved through suffering and doubt toward a more genuine relationship with God. This becomes the grace we venerate in the Eucharist and long for in each of our lives today.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, no matter our parish community, we stand on the same ground as the saints did on earth. This is not only the physical ground of the earth, but also the same place of need and expectation from God. We all need God. We all long for something more in our lives. We all face sin, division and heartache that need healing, understanding and peace. This is the solid ground of prayer and reliance on God. This is the place where future saints are formed and nurtured. This is the love of God that every worshipping community longs for in every person.

I stand on the same earthly ground where saints are formed believing that everything on this soil will be transformed into Christ’s love. This is where the Kingdom is birthed, here in our midst. I pray the last collect of the liturgical year with a deep desire for all people to be united, to be one in love. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King means that even the deep secrets of humanity will be brought to the light of Christ. All hardships will lead to hope, all people of the margins will be brought to the center, all violence will become peace, all hatred will be transformed into pure desire for God.

We all pray these collects of November straddling heaven and earth. In the bitter cold of November our prayers combine with the prayers of those who will never know the solace of Christ. Our prayers will mingle among motherless children and the lonely elderly. Our prayers will cry out from our own bitterness and tell about wars that still divide us. In the depths of all that is incomplete, we still stand on the sacred ground where holy people once stood and who still model for us a sacred response to life.

We all have choices to make in praying these collects of November. I ache to find my way home to the place where love dwells. I believe that this earth still creates saints who show us the way to offering praise to God. These liturgies remind us all that the Kingdom of heaven begins here on this earth. It is here where the love of Christ the King heals the longing for everyone who desires heaven.

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