A New Zealand Prayer Book is one of my most treasured collection of prayers. Published in 1989, it is a creative and inspiring take on Anglican worship. The language reflects the living faith in a unique part of the Communion. Often as I’m preparing for worship and preaching, I will turn to ANZPB to see how their prayers and readings echo ours in their special accent, both literally and figuratively.
The collect for All Saints’ Day touches me deeply. Our usual prayers for and with the saints tend to focus on the saints who were somehow extraordinary in their lives and ministries. These prayers are very meet and right. At the same time, it is helpful to recognize that saints are fallible humans just like you and I. The collect from ANZPB reminds us that the first saints of the church, the apostles, were “fallible, frightened friends who followed [Jesus] to Jerusalem.” Fallible, frightened friends were used by God to spread the Good News of Salvation, just as God uses us, fallible and sometimes frightened friends of Jesus to continue to “represent [him] in this broken world.”
As we Walk the Way, taking our pilgrimage of faith by the pledging of our time, talent and treasure to ministry at St. Michael’s, we are walking the Way of the saints, both known and unknown, who have gone before; saints among us today (including us!); and the saints who will inherit the Kingdom of God and the mission of the baptismal covenant. In the words of a favorite All Saints’ hymn, “For the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too.”
God, we give you praise and glory for all your saints, who have followed the way of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. May we learn from their example and rejoice in your call to us to bring your kingdom to all. We praise and thank you Holy Spirit of God, for the men and women you have called to be saints; from your first fallible, frightened friends who followed you to Jerusalem, through the centuries of discovery and growth, people of every class and temperament down to the present day. We praise you, Holy Spirit, for calling us to serve you now, for baptising us to represent you in this broken world. Help us to be Christ’s united body to heal and reconcile; help us to share Christ’s life with everyone. Lord of hosts, we praise your glory reflected in your saints; may we who share at this table be filled with the joy of your eternal kingdom, where Jesus is Lord now and for ever. Amen.
From A New Zealand Prayer Book, pp. 671-672