My grandmother Dorothy - Grandma Dot - died a few years ago. She lived a long life and was loved by many people. She contributed so much care to her circle of influence. And she had a good death, as those things go.

And yet, we feel her loss. Things are not the same without her. And so often, she seems so very far away.

But then, there are moments when it seems she is right here with me. When I smell the almond-flavored goodness of Spritz cookies baking at Christmas, I'd swear she was in the room. When I hear the notes of the song Finlandia, I can feel my Finnish grandma right there with me, singing along in her smoking-induced tenor voice. Sometimes, when I organize things around the house, I can feel her smiling in approval - she was quite the organized homemaker.

There are moments, sometimes, when we feel especially close to our loved ones who have died. Moments when the veil between us seems thin.

This is all a mystery, of course. We proclaim everlasting life by the grace of God, but we don't know what that looks like, exactly. Maybe these moments are explained by our brain functions or maybe our loved ones really are there...or maybe it's some phenomenon that we can't even imagine.

But, these moments happen, and they are gifts.

One of the beautiful elements of Celtic spirituality is the idea of "thin places." 

These are places where, as author Eric Weiner says, "the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we're able to catch glimpses of the divine or the transcendent..."

This Sunday, as we celebrate All Saints' Sunday, we celebrate the thin places.   We remember our loved ones who have died, and indeed, we celebrate the lives of the saints and sinners of all time. We remember that we are connected, across space, time, and deep mystery, to those who have gone before and to those who are yet to come.

We remember, we give thanks, we mourn, perhaps, and we rejoice.

And, we honor the thin places that are always in our midst: the font and the table. We are united in the baptismal waters with all of God's children. We are immersed in the reality that we are loved no matter what, for all eternity. And as we gather around the table to eat and drink, we become the body of Christ - a body that exists in every time and place. We are connected. We are one. We are God's, forever.

This Sunday, as we light candles, ring bells, and remember, let us celebrate the thin places. Let us give thanks that in God, we are one, forever.

Peace be with you,
PM
This Sunday's Readings
John 11:32-44

Daylight Saving Time ends, so be sure to set your clocks back an hour on Saturday night.

All Saints Remembrances This Sunday, we will celebrate the lives of our loved ones who entered the Church Triumphant. Bring in a framed photo of your loved one(s) to place around the altar in remembrance. 

Building Independence Documentary & Discussion -  9:30 am in Fellowship Hall In the Building Independence project, three local non-profits came together to provide safe and supportive housing for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This 36-minute film follows four residents as they take their first steps towards independence.

The Family Promise Response to Homelessness
Sunday, November 11, 9:30 am, Fellowship Hall Danielle Butler, Executive Director of Family Promise, will help us get to know how this organization walks with homeless families and explore ways that the congregation is part of the efforts. 

Hospice 101 presented by Stephen Ministry
Tuesday, November 13, 7:00-8:00 pm, Sanctuary   Brian Ballantine, board certified Chaplain for Heartland Hospice and husband to our own Pastor Marsha Anderson, will explore the history of the hospice movement, myths and misconceptions, who is eligible for hospice, the different roles of the interdisciplinary team and the theological issues hospice patients struggle with so that we can support them.
  
Agape + Kure Beach Trail Run, Walk, and Basket Raffle
Saturday, November 17, 8:30 am  Come to Camp Agape to run the 5-K, walk the Trail-K, participate in the basket raffles, and enjoy a delicious brunch to support Agape + Kure Beach Ministries! Register online.  All ages and abilities are welcome!

Advent Festival
Sunday, December 2, 12:15-3:00 pm in Fellowship Hall  $15/household includes catered lunch, wreath making and a chance to explore how we can let our light shine in the lives of others this Advent season. Register online now or at the registration table in the Narthex on November 11 and 18.

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's  
Health and Healing for  Cheryl Johnson.

Sympathy to the family and friends of Rev. Keith Daniel Benfield, father of Peyton Cline; family and friends of Ruthe Harrill; and to the family and friends of Ralph Goodson, uncle of Gail Phillips.

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish , including Tania Moyo and Godfree Hove. 
 
Tania will soon be 23.  Her son Talent is now 2 years old.  She is currently staying with her Grannie.   She was doing very well in her hairdressing courses at  a vocational school and was about to begin her attachment (internship) when she left school.  The Mnene staff are working with her to resume her training and complete her diploma.  Her goal is to finish her diploma, secure employment, and support herself and her son.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is the Agather family.
 
Godfrey, 17, left school and is now living with relatives away from Mnene.  The Mnene staff are trying to connect with him to learn how he is doing and if he is attending school.  He is currently not in the GSLC support program. We continue to hold him in our prayers.  His Mail For Mnene partner is the Alford family.

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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