All Saints’ Day, the first of November, proclaims and demonstrates the grace of God manifested in individual lives which have been given over to him.  Some years ago I suggested in a sermon that there was a “scandal of particularity” in our faith. That is to say, it is not just about vague religious ideas in general, a nebulous spirituality.  Rather our faith is about particular things (incarnation, death, and resurrection) which happened to a particular individual named Jesus, born of a particular woman named Mary, in a specific place at a specific time in our human history.  He did not exist in some mythical pre-history, but rather in first century A.D.  He was born in Bethlehem and died in Jerusalem. I would suggest that All Saints’ Day carries that particularity forward into the life of the Church. 

God’s transforming grace is made manifest in stunning multifariousness in the lives of the saints.  Now, we might fear that giving ourselves up totally to God would result in an absorption of all that is unique and personal to us, that we would be “homogenized” into some vast “spiritual reality.”  What comes to my mind when I hear that is the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  (For those not familiar with that program, the Borg was a vast alien group of cybernetic organisms, linked in a hive mind where each conquered individual was reduced to a cell-like unit of the massive collective.  Those about to be incorporated were warned that “resistance is futile.”)

    C.S. Lewis once wrote of the difficulty of thinking about things spiritual.  There was a girl he knew who had been raised to think of God as “perfect substance.” Yet in later life she discovered that she had actually been thinking of God as something like a “vast tapioca pudding” – a surely inadequate image made all the worse by the fact she disliked tapioca.  That presumption of a bland sameness at the heart of spiritual realities is, I suspect, not so very far from being a accurate description of the practical theology that many of us hold.  

    But here is the wonderful truth which All Saints’ Day demonstrates: God’s perfection of us through his grace does not obliterate who we are, rather it perfects who he has made us to be!  And so there are glories as numerous as the stars of the heavens, each differing one from the other, each manifesting their particular brilliance. One glory differs from another, yet each magnifies the eternal Triune God.  Like facets of jewels in a crown, their uniqueness is their glory. And their perfection is accomplished through their submission to God.

    The examples which we find in the saints’ lives are a precious treasure.  But they are also useful and effective tools for us as we seek to grow in the Lord.  It always strikes me how the challenges they faced (many offering their own life’s blood) put my paltry spiritual struggles into perspective.  I may like to think that I’m playing World-Series-level baseball, but one moment’s reflection makes it clear that I’m still in a pick-up game on some sandlot, if not sitting on the sideline or far out in left field.  Remembering the saints can free us from an inaccurate and unhealthily exaggerated sense of our own importance. Helmut Thielicke, one of the great German theologians of the last century, used to warn his theological students not to confuse thinking about something with actually experiencing it.  We can read in Romans of St. Paul’s struggle with sin and the liberation he experience in Christ; but it is another thing when we, in the depths of our soul, encounter that same reality of God’s forgiveness. We deceive ourselves if we confuse those two things. We may find ourselves thinking we already have climbed Himalayan heights when all we’ve really done is browsed in the shop that sells climbing gear.  

    Of course at All Saints, Ashmont, we have a further reason to revel in this great day, for it is our Feast of Title.  Our dear parish is under the patronage of All the Saints of God. It is to them that we make our plea for the sustaining and protection of this particular Christian community, called to ministry in this place, to make our Lord Jesus known to those who know him not.  May we ever be supported by their prayers to God on our behalf and encouraged by their faithful examples in following our Lord Jesus. May we, like them, hear those most excellent words of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant... Enter into the joy of your master.”

    I hope to see each of you on at 7 pm on Friday, 1 November, as we offer praise and thanks to our Lord God for the mercy and grace manifested in all of his saints.  Truly, God is glorious in all his saints!

 

Yours,

Michael J. Godderz ✠

(Ruth Godderz)

Service Times

Sundays

7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
8:00 a.m. Low Mass
9:00 a.m. Adult Christian Education*
10:00 a.m. Solemn Mass
11:30 a.m. Coffee Hour

* during the academic year

Weekdays

Low Mass
Wednesday 10 a.m. *
Friday 7 a.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.

* followed by coffee hour

 

Location and Parking

209 Ashmont Street
Dorchester MA 02124
(617) 436-6370

Map

All Saints is located in the south Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, just off Peabody Square, at 209 Ashmont St. and is a very short walk from the Ashmont T station on the Red Line. (Click icon for map.)

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The five principal levels of our buildings are handicap accessible, served by a five-stop elevator. Handicap access into both buildings is by a walkway and ADA-compliant ramp from the parking lot to the Ashmont Street door of the church.  There are handicap accessible bathrooms on four levels of the church and parish house.

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There is a private parking lot for 47 cars and on-street parking on both Ashmont Street and on the other streets surrounding the church.

Four of these spaces are reserved for Zipcars.

Parish of All Saints, Ashmont

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Our emphasis at the Parish of All Saints is on sacramental worship (the Mass or Holy Eucharist) celebrated in a traditional Anglo-Catholic style, with strong orthodox teaching and preaching, supportive pastoral care, a caring parish family, and responsibility to our community and the greater world.

 
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