All Saint’s Sunday, Year B ‘15
1 November 2015
John 11: 32-44
“Take my lips, oh Lord, and speak through them; take our minds and think with them. Take our hearts and set them on fire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Today is an especially busy day for us. We’re celebrating a major feast, All Saint’s, and we’re baptizing Carson, making her the newest Christian in God’s Kingdom here in Monroe. Plus, we have the after church fun of a pumpkin hunt for the kids and the fall clean-up day as well. First things first, let’s think about the Feast of All Saint’s for a minute. This is the day when we acknowledge the life and witness of all the saints of God, past, present, and yet to come. Remember, in the church calendar All Saints ranks with Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas as one of our principle feasts. It’s also regarded as one of the four days in the church year especially suited to the celebration of Holy Baptism, when we are adopted as children of God, brought into the fellowship of the church, and begin our life long Christian journeys. Imagine that! If you have been baptized you have been adopted by God, you are one of God’s own kids. As God’s beloved child you will inherit the Kingdom of God. That’s pretty wonderful I think. What about you? How does it feel to know deep down that, no matter what, you are beloved of God? Notice please, when we sing it, the language of our offertory hymn captures something very important about All Saint’s Day. The saints of God are all kinds of people, in all walks of life, simply going about their daily lives. The thing that sets them apart is that they, with God’s help love to do God’s will. How is it for you, beloved child of God? Do you love to do God’s will? That’s really all it takes to be a saint. We could say that all those Saint’s past, present, and yet to come, including all of us, are like lamps shining God’s light into the world. There are the named saint’s, people like, Peter and Paul or Patrick, Mary Magdalene, Agnes, or Clair. We’ve heard their stories told, or can find and read them, they are so ancient and well known that they no longer seem entirely human. They stand in witness to us of what it can mean to hold firmly to faith, trusting entirely in God, in the face of great opposition. There are lesser known Saint’s too, people like Father Kano who was added to the calendar of remembrance just this year. He pointed the way to faithful living through his work, first as a lay person then as a priest, in western Nebraska and in Colorado. After his arrest from the steps of his church in North Platte, Nebraska, on Pearl Harbor day, he lived a life of faithful witness in a series of World War II internment camps here in the U.S. Separated from home, family, and church he regarded the people he met while interred, fellow inmates and guards alike, as his congregation. He brought God’s good news, one way or another, in word and deed, to anyone he found in need. There are the virtually unknown saints like, oh, saint Ruby, the grandmother who taught me about what it means to live faithfully in the midst of daily life. Who is it for you? I am sure there is someone, probably more than one person, who served as a lamp to bring God’s light into your life. So, who is that saint, that lamp, for you? In a way I think it’s fair to say that all these saints, known and unknown, past and present, and yet to come, help us to see God more clearly, to experience God’s love in our lives. They are one important way God has of being present and active in the world at all times and in all places. They really do light the way for others. Do you mean to be one too? What does it take to be a saint? On one hand it takes knowing that there is no reason at all that you shouldn’t be a saint. God has given you everything you need already in the fact of God’s presence with you. At the same time our intention makes a big difference. To quote that offertory hymn “the saints of God are just folks like me, and I mean to be one too”. And, of course, as the hymn says, it takes the humility of knowing that we can’t do it alone. We need each other and we need God’s help. Listen carefully please to the questions asked, and our responses, when we join in renewing our Baptismal Covenant in just a few minutes now. I’m always wondering, week to week, as I pray with the Sunday lessons, what God is calling us to do. Think about God’s vision for our world as John expressed it in our second lesson. John shares his vison of how God sees our world and we are reminded that God is the beginning and end of our lives, always transforming us as God’s holy people. “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them.” It’s powerful stuff. And it leads me to offer a challenge to each one of you this week. Take the lessons home with you and read them as if they were personally addressed to you. You’ll hear, in the first lesson, how God watches over God’s holy people. Read them more than once. Remember John’s vision of God making all things new. Do it again and again, once a day might be good. Remember Jesus, restoring life to Lazarus so he can go on into new life. Here’s the thing. If you read those lessons again and again, remembering that they provide a way for God to speak directly to you, your smallest attempts at sainthood will become part of Gods’ amazing effort to bring light and life to what can seem, to our human eyes, like a very dark world. What could be more important? I wonder: how will each of us, God’s present day saints, shine as lamps bringing God’s light, God’s life, into our world? Amen.