Friday, October 30, 2015

An Excerpt from Pilot Point for All Saints

The Feast of All Saints has in recent years become one I’ve greeted with particular joy.  Perhaps it is because I have gotten to celebrate it in Oxford.  Or because it is for me the first harbinger of the approaching Advent season I so love.

More important than these personal affections, All Saints Day celebrates that in Christ all the saints have an eternal, and wonderful, bond that even death cannot break.

Below is an excerpt from my novel Pilot Point that I find appropriate for All Saints.  I don’t think I had the holiday in mind when I wrote it.  But it reflects my view of the bond of all the saints in Christ – and contains a vision of the Holy Communion of which all the saints share.

(Readers may wish to read this earlier excerpt first.  And any pagination issues are due to blogger.  The less said about that the better.)

May my good readers have an excellent Feast of All Saints this Sunday.


          After the offering, the confession of sins, and more prayers, [Father] Luke stood behind the table and the bread and wine and pronounced the Comfortable Words as the congregation stood.

         “Hear what comfortable words our Savior Christ say-eth unto all who truly turn to him.

         “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.

         “So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

         “Hear also what Saint Paul say-eth.
    This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

         Clayton glimpsed a hill through the dust.

         “Hear also what Saint John say-eth.
  If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.”

         Then immediately Father Luke lifted up his arms and sang, “Lift up your hearts.”

         The congregation sang in response, “We lift them up unto the Lord.”

         “Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.”

         “It is meet and right so to do.”

         Father Luke continued singing in prayer, “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee . . .”

         And suddenly Clayton saw that his worship, their worship, was more than that of himself or of Mustang Anglican, much more than he could think or imagine.  For to him, the walls of Mustang Anglican and even the walls of time and space dissolved.  And he and the congregation were giving thanks and praying not just with themselves but with a multitude of the faithful in different times and different places, both exalted and humble, both present and past, ancestors and children, kings and peasants, church fathers and new converts. . . .

          “. . . O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.  Therefore, with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven . . .”

          Now even the barriers of death and of heaven and earth melted away.  And Clayton looked and saw myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands in heaven and on earth, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, worshipping before the throne and before the Lamb.

           “. . . we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying . . .”

            And the congregation and heaven and earth erupted in worship:

            Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts: 
heaven and earth are full of thy Glory.
  Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.

            Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  
Hosanna in the highest.

            Leslie glanced over at Clayton.  He was sweating.

            “Are you okay?” she whispered.

            “Yes. . . .  I am.”

            The prayers came to the Lord’s Prayer which the congregation prayed in unison.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.

            Then Father Luke and the congregation kneeled, and he prayed, “We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy . . .”

            After further prayer, as the congregation continued to kneel, he stood, raised his arms and proclaimed, “All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption . . .”

            And though the years of dust, Clayton saw a hill he had almost forgotten.   On top of it walked a lone man, carrying a cross amidst a field of crosses.

            “ . . .who made there by his one oblation of himself once offered a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction . . .”

            Wind and dust were whipping around him.  And the cross was heavy.  But, though burdened and weary, he did not totter or waver.

             “. . .for the sins of the whole world. . .”

             The Man was so forlorn and windblown, and so alone, as he carried his cross.  As Clayton saw the lonely shadow bowed over through the dust, he was carrying the whole weight of the dust storm as well.

             “. . .and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again. For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, after supper, he took the Cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.”

             And the memory was not just a memory.  For Clayton, the lone Man was present, very close somehow, though obscured by the dust.

             After a silence, the congregation began singing.

Oh Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world
Have mercy upon us.

             Clayton found himself singing as if that Man was there before them . . . before him.

Oh Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world
Have mercy upon us.
Oh Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world
Grant us thy peace.

             Clayton felt a strange peace mixed with fear before a presence he could not understand.

             The priest began distributing the hosts.  The sanctuary was silent except for his hushed voice.

             “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.

              “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .”


Pilot Point is available in both print and Kindle on Amazon.

In addition, it is available at the Hastings in New Braunsfels, Texas.  Recycled Books in Denton, Texas may still have copies although I am not sure of that.

And don’t forget to like the Facebook page for Pilot Point.

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