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On a miserably wet night this week – you probably experienced it yourself, though I hope you managed to stay indoors! – I went out to South Kirkby to preach. The church there is dedicated, as our cathedral is, to All Saints, the festival we celebrate at the beginning of November. We marked it here at the cathedral on Sunday, with some stunning music and a thought-provoking sermon from the Dean of Manchester.
It was a real treat to be out and about, to meet the folk at South Kirkby, see their beautiful medieval church, and hear a bit about the amazing work they do faithfully in their community. (And, yes, we did sing the great hymn For all the saints, written by Wakefield’s first bishop whose memorial is in the south east end of the cathedral!) And these folk, like you, are saints – not people, maybe, who will be remembered in stained glass or hymns or chronicles, but people who are trying faithfully to make sense of it all, serve God, and do the best they could in difficult even dark times.
My time with the saints of South Kirkby – and with the saints in the cathedral on Sunday – reminds me that we may meet in large groups or smaller ones, in buildings of different sizes, in cities or towns or villages, at different times of the day and week. We may prefer different styles of worship or music, we may have slightly different opinions about things. We may meet in different countries and at different stages of history. But we are part of the same great community, the saints of God, those who have been touched by his presence and are trying to follow him. The saints are, as the writer of the biblical letter to the Hebrews put it, a great cloud of witnesses who surround us. We are part of a great community of different races and nationalities, different backgrounds and experiences; a fellowship of the living, the dead, and those yet to come; a cosmic collection of folk like you and me. The festival of All Saints reminds us we are part of this great gathering and that, in the joys and struggles of our life and our faith, we never walk alone.
With prayers and best wishes,
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