24th Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 26 (All Saints - Year B)

Call to Worship

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! Ps. 146
We will praise the Lord as long as we live.
We will sing praises to our God all our life long.

Do not idolize kings, or politicians, or celebrities,
for when their breath departs, they return to the earth.
Happy are those whose help is in the God of Jacob
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

The Lord will reign forever, for all generations.
Come, let us worship our eternal God!

Prayer of the Day

Gracious and Marvelous God,
today we celebrate the saints that have gone before us,
those who, like us, strove to live faithful lives.
They, like us, were broken and beautiful.
We, like them, are called to share the good news.
Help us gather strength from their stories
as we worship you this day. Amen.

Call to Confession

Friends, Nadia Bolz-Weber said this in her book Accidental Saints:
“Never once did Jesus scan the room for the best example of holy living
and send that person out to tell others about him. He always sent stumblers and sinners.”
Friends, we have been called. But first we must confess.


Merciful God, Ps. 119 & Mark 12:28-34
you call us to walk blamelessly before you and to hold your law in our hearts.
You call us to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
You call us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
But oh, Holy God, how we fail!
How many times have we ignored your precepts?
How many times have we stubbornly refused to share your love?
How many times have we given into our own selfish desires?
Help us praise you with an upright heart.
Help us learn your righteous ordinances.
Help us observe your statutes and live faithful lives. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Friends, our sin does not, and will not, have the final word.
The final word is a word of mercy from our loving God.
In Jesus’ name, I declare to you that our sins are forgiven.
Alleluia! Amen.

Prayer for Illumination

God of All Wisdom,
send us the presence of your Holy Spirit
that we might be guided in the reading of your Word. Amen.

Prayers of the People

Let us pray to God, saying:
Holy God, bring us closer to your kingdom. Mark 12:34

God of All Peace,
we are still reeling over the violence of the past few weeks.
For the two African Americans, one man and one woman,
who were shot down in a Kroger in Kentucky.
For the pipe bombs that were sent to critics of the president.
For the 11 Jewish children of God who were slain in their house of worship.
It is so tempting to throw in the towel and give in to the sickness in this country.
But such is not a Christian response.
Help us stand against such hatred.
Holy God, bring us closer to your kingdom.

God of All Creation,
today we journeyed with a passage that reminds us of your holiest of commands.
We are told that loving you takes everything we’ve got:
our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our bodies.
Give us the gratitude to respond to your generosity
by devoting our selves whole-heartedly to your kingdom.”
Holy God, bring us closer to your kingdom.

God of All Nations,
as people around this country head to the polls this Tuesday,
give all voters a humble sense of wisdom and clarity
as they carefully choose who will represent them and us in government.
We give thanks for the saints that have gone before us
who have fought so hard to secure our right to vote.
Yet still, we pray for those who cannot vote
and those who feel as though their vote doesn’t matter.
Give all politicians the courage and conviction
to lead us in righteousness, kindness, and compassion.
Holy God, bring us closer to your kingdom.

God of All Hope and Healing,
we pray for the saints who have gone before us,
for those who have fought the good fight,
and have finished their race.
We pray especially for those in this congregation
who have died in the past year…
We pray especially for those in this congregation
who need special prayers for wholeness this day…
Holy God, bring us closer to your kingdom.

We lift these prayers to you, Gracious and Merciful God.
Hear us as we pray as your son taught us to pray, saying: Our Father…

Prayer of Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

God of the Saints,
we praise you for the saints that have gone before us,
for their joys and struggles,
their faithfulness and their stumbles,
their ups and their downs,
their hopes and their fears.
We see so much of ourselves in them
and we carry their stories in our hearts.

God of All Creation,
may your continued act of creation be fulfilled
when we are strengthened by all the saints who have gone before us.
Help us learn from their mistakes.
Help us be guided by their wisdom.
Help us carry on their progress and push forward together.
Help us honor their legacy by continuing to obey your commandments.
Hear us as we join your saints in proclaiming your majesty:

Holy, holy, holy Lord. God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. Hosanna in the highest.

Gracious God,
the saints who have gone before us have followed your Son
and we ask that you give us the courage to follow him as well.

Christ came to this world to be:
an arbiter of peace amidst violence,
a vehicle of love amidst a sea of hatred,
a herald of your kingdom in the midst of empire,
a prophet of your truth in the midst of falsehood,
a healer of the hurt in the midst of pain,
and a resurrection of life in the midst of death.

Being born, he is a vehicle of your love.
Walking many the miles, he teaches us to travel to the unknown.
Giving love, he helps us understand our capacity for compassion.
Healing the sick, he inspires us to share your healing power.
Teaching the broken, he reminds us that we are works in progress.
Sacrificing himself, he shows us that love triumphs over hate.

We give you thanks that the Lord Jesus,
on the night before he was detained, took bread,
and after giving thanks to you, he broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat. This is my body, broken for you.

In the same way Jesus took the cup, saying:
This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood,
shed for you for their forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.
We gather this day, God of all majesty and power,
to lift up your holy name and proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

This meal, Gracious God,
is a meal that reminds us that we are people of Resurrection,
that we are practitioners of peace,
that we are continuing the work of the saints who have gone before us,
the saints for which we give you thanks.
May this meal seal us with their stories
that we may continue their work which we do in your holy name.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
all glory and honor are yours, Holy God,
both now and always. Amen.


Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.