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Signs of the Times  •  27 October 2016  •  No. 94

Processional.When the Saints Go Marching In,” Louis Armstrong.

Sing praise all you creatures, wild animals, creeping things, flying birds. —Psalm 148

Invocation.Psalm 53,” Aramaic chant by Archimandrite Serafim.

Mom needs to know. “No matter how old you get, it's safe to say your mom will always worry about you. Jonathan Quiñonez was feeling burnt out from working as a consultant in Brussels, Belgium, when he decided to quit his job and travel the world.” But he managed to assure his Mom “I’m fine” with a series of dramatic photos. Today

Call to worship: All Hallows Eve. “We come again to a time when mortals / play out the battle of good and evil. / Before the goodness of the saints is delivered to us, / We must face the dark night / Don our courage / Wear it like a shield and / Say BOO! to the darkness / before it engulfs us.” —continue reading Abigail Hastings’ “Hallowed Week: A call to worship for All Hallowed Eve and All Saints Day"

All Saints. “In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a pocket handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.” —Frederick Buechner

¶ “There is no sinner like a young saint.” ―Aphra Behn

¶ “In truth, all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human, to be perfect—that is, whole, mature, fulfilled. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and who realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.” —William Stringfellow

¶ “When I give people food, they call me a saint. When I ask why there is no food, they call me a communist.” —Hélder Pessoa Câmara, former Catholic Archbishop in Brazil

Hymn of praise. “No greater love hath any than to yield / Privilege and pow’r to welcome and to shield / The least, the lost, the whole creation healed / Alleluia! Alleluia!” —continue reading new lyrics to “For All the Saints” by Ken Sehested

“A saint is simply a human being whose soul has … grown up to its full stature, by full and generous response to its environment, God.” —Evelyn Underhill

¶ “Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed that easily.” —Dorothy Day

¶ “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” —Oscar Wilde

Confession. “I admit that I ain't no angel / I admit that I ain't no saint / I'm selfish and I'm cruel and I'm blind / If I exorcise my devils, well my angels may leave too / When they leave they're so hard to find.” —Tom Waits, “Please Call Me, Baby

¶ “For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most.” —Annie Besant

¶ “From somber, serious, sullen saints, save us O Lord.—St. Teresa of Ávila,16th century Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun

¶ “The Reformer is always right about what's wrong. However, he's often wrong about what is right.”  ―G.K. Chesterton

Professing our faith. “The saints of old don’t wear golden crowns, or sit on lofty perch, mouthing caustic comments on how poorly we yet-mortal souls measure up to the glory of days past. They, too, knew about keeping hope alive while getting dinner on the table, faucets fixed, carpools covered, and budgets balanced.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “All Saints Day,” a litany for worship 

The inference of this scientific finding for homo sapiens is all too obvious. “Howler monkeys [see photo at top] are the loudest land animals on Earth, capable of bellowing at volumes of 140 decibels, which is on the level of gunshots or firecrackers. Not surprisingly, male howlers frequently use this power to advertise their sexual fitness, catcalling females with their ear-splitting roars. But in a beautiful twist of expectations, scientists have now found that the louder the monkey’s calls, the smaller the monkey’s balls. A team based out of Cambridge University came to this conclusion by comparing the size of dozens of monkeys’ testes with the hyoid bones located in their voice boxes, which revealed a negative correlation between decibel levels and testicular endowment.” Becky Ferreira, Motherboard

Words of assurance.Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” Alabama.

Tensions between the US and Russia are escalating dramatically, with standoffs in Ukraine and Syria and now over alleged Russian computer hacking designed to influence the US elections. On the latter, that’s a little like a pot calling the kettle black.
        There’s a running joke in Latin America that goes like this:
        Question: Why has there never been a coup in the US?
        Answer: Because there’s no US embassy in Washington, DC.
        “For more than 100 years, without any significant break, the US has been doing whatever it can to influence the outcome of [other countries’] elections―up to and including assassinating politicians it has found unfriendly.” Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney, Huffington Post

It sounds so much better when you call it “intelligence gathering.” “When President Obama receives his daily intelligence briefing, most of the information comes from government cyberspies, says Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush. ‘It’s at least 75%, and going up,’ he says.” —Michael Riley, “How the US Government Hacks the World

Left: "All Saints Day," painting by Wassily Kandinsky.

Hymn of intercession. “Listen, smith of the heavens, / what the poet asks. / May softly come unto me / your mercy. / So I call on thee, / for you have created me.” —“Heyr himna smiður” (“Hear, Heavenly Creator”), 12th century Icelandic hymn, performed by Gréta Hergils

Short take. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that reformers are often right about what’s wrong but sometimes wrong about what’s right. I recalled that quote this week after reading of the passing of Tom Hayden, a leading figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement who navigated the transition from movement organizing to an 18-year stint in the California state legislature. In a 1986 opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times Haden wrote “I will always believe the Vietnam War was wrong. I will never again believe that I was always right.”

        This side of Glory, this tension will remain. Climbing that high peak for a glimpse of the Promised Land will involve much disagreement as to the details of ascent. That doesn’t mean aiming for the middle-of-the-road. As another political agitator, Jim Hightower, so aptly puts it in the title of one of his books, There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.

Reformation as “democratizing access to the holy.” “Much of the history of the church is the story of the unfolding details of who gets to say and do what in the life of the believing community. It is the story of an increasingly complex bureaucracy detailing who gets to approach God on behalf of the people and approach the people on behalf of God. The early baptist impulse was to say that the unlettered and the unwashed also testify to the work of the Holy Spirit. The unanointed, the unlettered, the non-ordained also have access and also are called to speak to the difficult choices involved in following Jesus.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “The baptist impulse: Notes toward a renewal of baptist identity

When only the blues will do.Many Rivers to Cross,” Joe Cocker.

Preach it. “The world is waiting for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order. . . . Most people despair that [it] is possible. They cling to old ways and prefer the security of their misery to the insecurity of their joy. But the few who dare to sing a new song of peace are the new St. Francises of our time, offering a glimpse of a new order that is being born out of the ruin of the old.” —Henri Nouwen

Can’t makes this sh*t up. “A secret FBI study found that anger over US military operations abroad was the most commonly cited motivation for individuals involved in cases of ‘homegrown’ terrorism.’” Murtazaa Hussain and Cora Currier, The Intercept

Post-election challenge. “Only turning our hearts to what is moving and enraging Trump’s supporters can trump Trump and the trumpery he spews into the body politic. And that is the real issue facing America—far deeper than one presidential election.” —Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center

For more commentary on our post-election vocation, see Ken Sehested’s “Vote, or don’t: The issues are larger than the election.”

Is this what “make America great again” means? “Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those of us who don’t?” —seen on a bumper sticker

Call to the table.The Soul of Man Never Dies,” Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice.

The state of our disunion. “Citing worries about the sharp rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign and other safety concerns, school districts across the country that host polling sites are opting to cancel classes on Election Day. . . . A 51% majority of likely voters express at least some concern about the possibility of violence on Election Day.” Aamer Madhani, USAToday
        “Since the polls are starting to shift quite a bit towards Hillary Clinton, I’ve been buying a lot more ammunition,” says Rich Darling, an engineer from Michigan. Susan Page and Karina Shedrofsky, USAToday

For the beauty of the earth. "Spider at work" (2:27 video). The silk spun by spiders to create their webs is the strongest biological material in the world, it’s tensile strength greater than most kinds of steel.

Altar call. “All of Me” is what we should be humming on our way forward. Thomas Gansch & James Morrison of the Schagerl All Star Big Band

Benediction.God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” The Lower Lights.

Recessional.When the Saints Go Marching In,” Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Session Band.

Lectionary for Sunday next. “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? We pound the doors of Heaven, shouting “Listen! Pay attention! Are you asleep!” Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Pound the Doors of Heaven,” a litany for worship inspired by Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

Just for fun. Four cellists, one instrument. Wiener Cello Ensemble playing Maurice Revel’s “Bolero.”

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Hallowed Week: A call to worship for All Hallowed Eve and All Saints Day,” by Abigail Hastings

• “All Saints Day,” a litany for worship 

• “For All the Saints,” new lyrics to an old hymn

• “The [small-b] baptist impulse: Notes toward a renewal of baptist identity

• “Pound the Doors of Heaven,” a litany for worship inspired by Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

Other features

• “Vote, or don’t: The issues are larger than the election

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