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Hallo again to all.

Today we are away from the Anglicans Online office today to attend the baptism of the baby daughter of two of our editors on this Feast of All Saints' (observed). We believe it to be the perfect day for a new Christian to join in the community—both of our parish, and of all the saints who have gone before. We imagine her surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses*, represented by those who surrounded her in the church building—in heaven and on earth.

Fra Angelico's All Saints' Day

We leave you with Fra Angelico's The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs and the following excerpt from a 2009 sermon delivered by Archbishop Rowan Williams':

But there's another dimension of this which comes out very clearly in that rich passage from Hebrews. These great figures that the writer to the Hebrews has listed, 'without us [says the writer] they will not be made perfect'. This is a truly extraordinary claim. We've heard about the heroes of the Old Testament, the Judges and the Prophets, those who have suffered atrociously for their faith, those who have performed stunning miracles, 'And yet [the writer to the Hebrews says baldly] without us they will not be made perfect'. Think of that in our own terms. Without us, Francis of Assisi will not be made perfect, without us St John of the Cross will not be made perfect, without us Mother Theresa will not be made perfect. Surely some mistake? As the editors say. But no, these great witnesses become perfect, they become fully into their life that God purposes for them when we respond, when we enter into a relationship with them. So that the way in which they have made God credible comes alive in us. They're not perfect as individuals who have scored exceptionally highly in the examination of Christian faith. They are parts of the body of Christ to which we too belong. Our life is bound up with theirs and amazingly and humblingly, their life is bound up with ours, they enter into their glory when we come with them. It's that extraordinary realization of which we see a glimmer in the Buddhist doctrine: that the great Bodhisattvas do not enter into rest until they have brought everyone they can with them. That's why they keep coming back, being reincarnated to speak to more and more people. This, I believe is a glimmer of the same insight that the holiest, the most whole of God's children, reach that wholeness only in communion with us. We might almost say, 'Heaven help the Saints if they depend on us to get them to their final wholeness'. And yet that is the bold and startling doctrine that the Bible puts before us as a reminder that no-one's holiness is their property and that the holiness of the Christian life is one given into the lives of others. That is where it becomes fully itself.

So at All Saints' tide we give thanks that God in Christ has made himself credible; credible in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus; credible in the lives of those in whom Jesus has come alive. And we thank God for that extraordinary promise: that the great Saints of the Communion of Christ's body depend on us as we depend on them in growing together.

See you next week.

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4 November 2018

*Hebrews 12:1

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