All Saints, Will You Join Them?

The readings appointed for today can be found here


The Sermon on the Plain

How many of you have heard this passage referred to as the “sermon on the mount”? 

Great. A few of you.

Well, hold onto your pew…

This is going to rock your world.

Jesus did not preach this passage from a mountain.  Or even a hill.  As far as scripture tells us, he wasn’t even standing on a tree stump or a rock.

At least, not in the Gospel of Luke. In Matthew, yes, there is a mount…but not in Luke.

Luke, with his characteristic focus on the leveling of classes—where the mighty are brought low and the humble exalted. Luke, with his clear and unfiltered emphasis that God’s good news is for the poor, and the marginalized.

In the Gospel according to Luke, this is the sermon on the plain--and in the verses immediately preceding those we heard today, Luke, sets the stage by placing Jesus amongst the crowd,

“He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them (Luke 6:17-19).”

He stood with them.  He didn’t stand apart, he didn’t declare his greatness, he didn’t stay behind a security barrier.  He stood with them. 

And, in standing with them, as one of them. He made them whole. 

What a powerful message for us to hear as Christians, Jesus came amongst us. Stood with us. Connected us. Resurrected us. Heard us. Responded to us.

Made us whole.

And, here I place the emphasis, made US whole.  Us.  Not some, but all. Not one, but all.

All of them.

And, out of this radical proclamation of inclusion comes the instruction.  Because once healed the healed becomes healers…

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

He stood with them and having healed them, he sent them out as healers.

This is why, I believe, that our baptismal liturgy asks us what we will DO following baptism! 

Please turn to page 304 in your prayer book…

Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the
I will, with God's help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
I will, with God's help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?
I will, with God's help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
I will, with God's help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
I will, with God's help.

Will you, will you?  Having been healed will you be healers? Having been baptized will you accept the gift of God’s help in fulfilling your promises?  Will you step out amongst the people who long for healing and be as one of them in the giving and the receiving? 

This is the feast of All Saints. A day in which we celebrate all the Saints of the church, and put most simply, a Saint is anyone who seeks to fulfill the promises they have made in baptism…

And, to seek to follow these promises means to go amongst those who long for the promised blessing of God’s love and participate in their healing…you can’t honor the dignity of every human being unless we go amongst those who need it!

To be as Jesus, and be in the midst of the broken. To be a follower, a disciple of Christ, and press in amongst the crowd to receive the gift and then live the gift.  In her book of reflections, A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys With Jacob, Madeleine L’Engle tells a story of what Saints do in Heaven  

“There's a story of a good man who dies and goes to heaven, and who is welcomed at the pearly gates, which are thrown open for him to enter. He goes through them in a daze of bliss, because it is everything he has been taught, golden streets, milk and alabaster and honey and golden harps. He wanders the streets lost in happiness, until after a while he realizes that he is all alone; he hasn't seen anybody at all. He walks and walks, and he sees nobody.
So he goes back to the gates, and he asks, "Peter?"
"Yes, my son?"
"This really is heaven?"
"Oh, yes, my son. Don't you like it?"
"Oh, it's just wonderful! But where is everybody? Where are the prophets? Where is the Holy Family? Where are the saints?"
Peter looks at him kindly. "Oh, them? They're all down in hell, ministering to the damned. If you'd like to join them, I'll show you the way."

Will we join the saints?


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