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Dear Friends in Valhalla Parish—

This Sunday, for our celebration of All Saints, I am excited to have Dr. Paula Pryce as our guest preacher. Paula is a professor in the department of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, but she also grew up at St. David's. In 1999 she published“Keeping the Lakes’ Way”: Reburial and the Re-creation of a Moral World among an Invisible People,'" which focuses on the life and practices of the Sinixt people, on whose traditional territories we gather each and every week. 

I had the privilege of getting to know Paula in Vancouver, as one of the volunteers at the Maundy Cafe, the five day a week food food program I coordinated. It has been such a delight to keep up with her, and now to join with you all in extending a wide welcome to Paula this week as we gather for worship on Sunday.

I remember All Saints Day 2009 with a vivid memory. The music. The light in the church. The skies outside. The people gathered, including friends who had travelled from afar. All Saints was the day of my confirmation. As an adult who had been baptized as a teenager some thirteen years before, this was an important moment for me. 

A lot had been leading to that moment—a moment in which I chose to reaffirm my renunciation of evil, renew my commitment to Jesus Christ, and affirm that—with God's help—I would put my whole trust in God's grace and love. The road to that point had had its fair share of bumps and bruises, and yet God remained faithful, and I sought to grow deeper into this mystery.

And so, every year when we come to the feast that we celebrate this coming Sunday, past, present and future join together in this singular moment. Creation and baptism, death and resurrection, the lives of all the saints who have gone before,  of all who are present, and all who are yet to come. They are somehow mystically joined in this moment as we re-member. Member by member by member are put back together as they ought to be. As beloved members of God's good creation.

And when all of these members are rejoined, as we pray they may be in the Eucharistic prayer, we too have the opportunity to renew our participation—with all the saints—in God's unfolding dream for the world. As a part of that ministry, this week we will take time to pause. To listen. To pray for those who have died in the last year. We will pray for those whose lives we wish to commend to God.

As we do each and every week, we pray for those who have died. This week will, however, be somewhat different.

This week, I ask you to email me in advance of the service with the names of your beloved dead from the last year. I will compile this list and provide it to the person leading the prayers of the people. And, of course, there will be space in the prayers of the people to add other names. 

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. 

Every Blessing,

Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Valhalla Parish Missioner