No Christian is solitary. Through baptism we become members of the one body of Christ, which is the church, and of the company of saints. We are joined into a company that transcends even death itself. Charles Wesley wrote:
One family, we dwell in him, One Church, above, beneath; Though now divided by the stream, The narrow stream of death.
In November we enter a season which in the church is known as Kingdom Season, It begins on 1st November with All Saint’s Day when we celebrate the men and women in whose lives we have seen the grace of God powerfully at work. It is an opportunity for us to give thanks for that grace, and for the wonderful ways in which it shapes human lives.
Encouraged by the example of the saints, we can remember that holiness does not have to be limited to the extraordinary, the extreme or the exception to the rule. In fact, holiness, through God’s grace, can be found in very ordinary circumstances, in the very act of living. Let us always be open to that which is holy in our everyday lives.
On 2nd November we commemorated the Faithful Departed on All Soul’s Day. This is a more intimate day as it allows us to remember with thanksgiving those we have known ourselves, those who gave us life, who taught and encouraged us and nurtured us in faith.
In our services for these two festivals we remember that redemption is God’s work of grace, through Christ. We look for the fulfilment of that grace in the coming of God’s kingdom, and we pray that God’s kingdom will be revealed in all its fullness. As the days grow shorter and we turn on our lights and light up our fires, we can pray for the coming of the light which can never be put out and the light which will shine in glory for all of us, those departed and those here on earth.
On 11th November, Remembrance Sunday allows us to explore the theme of memory, both communal and individual, as we confront issues of war and peace, loss and self-sacrifice, memory and forgetting. I think it is entirely appropriate that as we enter into the short days of winter, we remember, holding our memories to God and holding them in our hears as we prepare to turn more inwards towards our hearth and homes.
Finally in this season, the Church year ends with the Feast of Christ the King on 24th November. The year which begins, in Advent, with the hope of the coming of the Messiah, ends with our proclaiming his universal sovereignty. We celebrate him as Lord of earth and heaven, and one of his kingly purposes is final judgement. So, we are returned to the theme of judgement and we begin the cycle once more.
However, as we have remembered God’s gracious work of redemption through Christ during this season, so we can be assured that our King’s judgement will always be tempered by mercy and by grace. May you have a blessed and fruitful Kingdom Season.