Dear Congregational Family,
1. All Saints’ Day was yesterday (Nov.1), but we will especially be celebrating it this Sunday on “All Saints’ Day Sunday” as we remember that Christians are saints of God, only by the grace of God! The word “saints” literally means “holy ones.” Throughout the years the church has highlighted (canonized, etc.) different saints who lived extraordinary lives for God. While it can be inspiring to learn of these saints and to honor them, we need to remember that the Bible always speaks of “saints” as ALL believers, and that it is never a term that has been earned, but one that is given by God through the forgiveness of the blood shed by Jesus on the cross. This Sunday we will remember especially those who have passed on from our congregation during this past year. Another interesting and related fact of church historical architecture is that the reason for the semi-circle altar rail for Holy Communion was to remind the saints on earth that we are in communion with the saints in glory who have crossed through the veil of death but who are alive and well and in union with us through Christ. They are on the “other side” of the altar rail making the full circle of the “Communion of the Saints,” the church, as together we worship Christ our Savior and Lord.
2. International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians: This Sunday is also the observation of this special day. As I read my recent Voice of the Martyrs magazine today, I was so moved by all the testimonies of Christians who are suffering around the world, and yet how they request that we pray not for their persecutions to be removed, but for their strength to be bold witnesses for Christ, even to the death. They look to the following Bible verse for comfort:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” – II Corinthians 4:8-10
3. Life: This week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments regarding the recently passed Texas abortion law. The court will likely not be ruling on abortion itself, but rather on the legality of how the law was constructed and what it means regarding federal vs. state authority. However, after over 60,000,000 abortions in the U.S. alone, there is a growing national grassroots movement to love and value unborn life again as sacred and created in the image of God. A more significant case (Dobbs v. Jackson) is already on the Supreme Court docket for Dec. 1. As Christians, we need to be fervently in prayer for our nation on the foundational matter of life itself! Satan hates life with a passion, because he knows that all human life is created in God’s image and gives glory to God.
4. Carlson Update: Thank you again for all your prayers! It is so hard not to be physically with you all! Sadie and Sam are doing well. Ben has totally escaped the virus. Jen is feeling much better (I even hear the vacuum running!). Today was my first day without a fever, which gives me renewed hope, but even eating and trying to drink enough water is an exhausting effort.
5. Sermon: Sermon Title: “We’re Standing With the Saints”
Sermon Text: Revelation 7:9-17
Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God,
Dear Congregational Family,