All Saints’ Day–November 1
Celebrating Their Lives
A Service of Holy Communion for All Saints Day –
November 1, 2021
In advance of All Saints Day, encourage members and friends to bring in pictures of deceased loved ones to display on the altar, as a welcoming display in the narthex, and in other public areas around the church. Many different sized and shaped frames will add depth to the displays. Perhaps some historic photos of the church could be enlarged to poster size and placed on the walls of the worship space, surrounding the gathered community. “Group shots” of past church members would work best.
Ask a multi-generational family to participate in the Communion liturgy. If you have a family with at least three generations, it would be great to offer them the opportunity. (If you have several families, even better!) See the communion liturgy for more information.
During the Gathering Time encourage folks to remember and celebrate a loved one who has died by writing the name of their loved one on a “Wall of Remembrance.” This can simply be several sheets of poster board attached together, or some newsprint or butcher paper. Have water-based markers available. Make the wall accessible to all. Don’t forget the children! Honor this “Wall of Remembrance” by placing it on display in a gathering area for several weeks.
Or, as an alternative during Gathering Time:
Children can bring joy to what can be a sad time for many. Whether the loss is recent or long past, the sting of death seems to be revived on All Saints Day. As folks enter worship, distribute index cards with a hole punched in them. Ask people to write the name of a loved one who has died on the card. Since almost everyone will want to write a name, list as many names on one card as possible. Have volunteers tie the card to a helium balloon and secure for use later in the service. Bring the children to the chancel or ask them to spread themselves throughout the congregation. Have youth volunteers take a balloon to each child and ask him/her to hold it carefully, not letting go! (This visual works best if you have about 30-50 balloons, or more!)
When the children are all in place (and if there are more balloons than children, which is most likely, give them to adults as well) and on the count of three, have everyone say “We celebrate you!” and release the balloons to the ceiling. (Something to work out in advance: make sure that the weight of the index card will not weigh down the balloon so much that it won’t float to the ceiling. If so, select a light weight paper, like rice paper. And, if you have fans on the ceiling, turn them off!). Some children might not want to release the balloon; that’s okay. It reminds us that sometimes we just aren’t ready to let go! As the pastor, you might say something along those lines and remind folks that it is good to hold our loved ones close. The balloons should return to the ground within a few days. Gather up the cards/papers with the names and create a mosaic for display for the next few weeks. (Another note: depending on the temperature of the building, helium can deflate rather quickly. To avoid this, blow up the balloons just about an hour before the service. A fun activity for a responsible youth!)
An alternate suggestion for releasing the balloons follows the communion liturgy.
(If you have just a few children, you might want to set aside balloons to give them as they leave church.)
Some other ways to remember:
If your church has a bell, then (at the point in the communion liturgy below) it can toll once for each person who has died since last November. Family members may be asked if they wish to read their loved one’s name. If your church is without a bell, but has handbells, use a low-note handbell. A “singing bowl” would also work. (This suggestion is incorporated in the communion liturgy below.)
A single red rose placed on the altar for each person who has died since last November is another visual way to remember each life. Each rose should be placed in a bud vase so that the family can take the rose home with them. Having the roses placed throughout the pictures would create a nice tribute.
From The New Century Hymnal, hymn numbers 295-299 and 374-385
From Sing! Prayer and Praise:
No. 20 – “Waiting for You”
No. 33 – “There’s a Spirit of Love in This Place”
No. 36 – “The Body Is One”
No. 67 – “You Are the One”
No. 96 – “I Am”
No. 168 – “Because of Who You Are”
No. 196 – “Let It Shine”
No. 210 – “There’s Bread for the Journey”
Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether (verse 1) The New Century Hymnal 337
The invitation is simple: come and eat of the feast.
Not a meal to nourish the body, but to feed the soul.
We receive the bread and wine connected to the ages:
to the saint of old who felt unworthy,
to the seeker eager to know God,
to the teenager who wonders what it’s all about,
to the child who eats with unburdened faith.
Woven into this time, the hopes and tears of generations.
There is great joy here.
No one is turned away for God is the host!
Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether (verse 2) The New Century Hymnal 337
Pastor: God is in this place.
People: And in our hearts.
Pastor: Open yourself to the nudging God.
People: We feel the breath of the Spirit.
Pastor: Remember God made flesh.
People: Jesus, who taught us a new way.
(Allow silence to speak for a few moments.)
Tender, transforming God, you have invited us to gather at this table,
To taste the feast,
the same abundant promises offered to our ancestors in faith.
Time and time again you’ve offered your grace,
Even as we have stepped away,
You continue to call us to be your people.
You have never left us.
We praise you for second, third, and fourth chances.
You are ever-patient, always faithful.
We give thanks for this time of celebration.
For the One this meal remembers.
For the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
With those who have gone before us,
Whose hands touched the bread,
Whose lips embraced the cup,
We worship you.
We glorify you.
(Optional: Here the pastor and/or family members can read the name of each person who has died since last November. Following each name, a bell tolls. If using a singing bowl, allow time for the song to die away before reading the next name.)
We remember those who have died in the past year.
We celebrate their lives, even as we continue to grieve.
NAME (bell tolls)
NAME (bell tolls)
(After all the names are read:)
And we remember all those who have gone before us. (bell tolls)
This is the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether (verse 3) The New Century Hymnal 337
BREAKING BREAD AND POURING WINE
Gathered with his friends, Jesus took bread, broke it and said:
“This is my body, broken for you. Take and eat.”
And pouring the wine:
“This is my blood, spilled out for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
God of all, send your Spirit to this place
so that those gathered here, in this sacred moment,
may know your presence.
As we eat the bread and drink of the cup,
make us one with the saints,
and with our sisters, siblings and brothers in faith around the world.
Be with us God, not only here but in every moment of our lives.
To know you,
To be guided by the Holy Spirit,
And to live Christ.
Now and forever.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
(In the words most familiar to you.)
CALL TO THE FEAST
This is the feast prepared for you.
Come and share for all is ready.
SHARING THE BREAD AND CUP
(For this service, we recommend that communion be offered by intinction. Be mindful of those who can’t or won’t come forward and be prepared to take communion to them. If possible, in advance locate a family with at least three generations represented. To begin the serving of communion, the oldest in this family would serve the next generation, and then that generation would serve the next, and so on. Then, perhaps, the three (or more) generations could serve communion (with a partner) to the congregation at several stations.)
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Creative, connecting God, you have sent your Spirit and made us the body of Christ;
From child-like faith, to youthful energy,
from middle-aged mindfulness, to elder’s wisdom..
We thank you for this time, this remembrance.
Increase our faith.
Help us to love.
Encourage us to act.
In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.
If you are releasing the balloons inside the worship space, it might be a good time to release them before the singing of the last hymns. That way, they can dance around with the music a bit. Or, folks can release them as they feel called to during the singing of the last hymn. That would be a nice effect as well, with people saying “We celebrate you!” and releasing their balloon at various times in the hymn. “For All the Saints” would be an energetic and appropriate hymn to place here. This would help the service to conclude with a bit more energy, remembering the promise of the resurrection.
Celebrating their Lives: Holy Communion for All Saints’ Day was written by the Rev. Scott A. Ressman, Pastor of the United Church of Rockville Centre, Rockville Center, New York.
Copyright 2021 Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.