Monday, November 5, 2018

Beloved Saints

All Saints B, 2018, Readings can be found here


I am well aware of what’s going on out there. Of the news and the polls, the hopes and the fears.

I can tell you, within a penny, how much our community needs in order to not just sustain our ministries, but to thrive and grow.

But, for now, let it go. Let it go, let it all go,

And, sit.

For just a moment, sit.

There is no place you need to be, but here.

No errands. No homework. No campaign trail. No work. No sports. No chores.

No kitchen to clean or leaves to rake.

Just, here.

Here. At church.

Where we will lift our voices in prayer. Where we will reach our hands so that they might be filled.

Here, where we simply need to be, in order to be enough.   

So be here, be enough, and know that you are beloved.

God doesn’t care about your grades, or about your job, or about that promotion, or about anything, other than the beautiful and amazing reality that is you. You as a beloved child of God—you don’t have to earn it, you don’t have to prove yourself, you don’t have to do anything, but be.

So, be.

Be here, here in this place and know that you are surrounded by a great company of saints--the living and the dead, sinner and saint alike. As babies’ fuss, and parents hush. Be here.

Be here. In this place that brings together the generations. Be here, in this time that transcends all time.

In ancient words and customs, in future hopes and dreams, we gather. And in our gathering all time is compressed into this time, this moment. This moment, when we remember the dead, celebrate amongst the living, and prepare a place for those who have yet to be born.  Today, the sanctuary is crowded--crowded with the past, the present and the future of this place, and of all of us, and of all those we have loved.

And, this, this transcendent and powerful moment is one in which we simply need to be, to be in the moment, so that we might be fully present to our past and our future and all those we have loved and hope to love. This moment feels like a miracle—a miracle pointing to God’s love for us in the midst of our joys and our sorrows, our laughter and our tears. God’s love, always.

Can you see? Can you see how the home of God is among us?

Among us, in this time and this place amongst these people. The home of God is among us. And we will celebrate with bread and with wine, with water and with the Spirit, God’s love and generous invitation to each of us to partake fully of the feast that has been prepared for us and for all of creation.

Can you hear it? Can you feel it? Can you sense the possibilities and the promises, the covenants and the commitments?

All come to bear in this time and this place.

And, doesn’t the church feel alive today? It feels alive because we are alive, it feels alive because we have gathered!

Gathered to baptize, gathered to mourn, gathered to share, gathered to celebrate.

Gathered together on a day the church has set aside to remember and celebrate all of the saints that God has placed among us, now and in the distant past.

All the Saints, gathered together—in a comingling of the earthly and the cosmic. A comingling because, alongside the biblical saints and the saints and martyrs of our tradition, are the saints who are saints by virtue of baptism. In the Episcopal Church, all baptized Christians are considered saints of God who have the potential to be examples of faith to others.

Transcendent indeed—and yet, so earthly when the newest saints are swaddled amongst us!

Now, I’m sure many of you know the delightful Victorian hymn, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God”?  It is the third verse which joyfully instructs us that saints, “they lived not only in ages past; there are hundreds of thousands still; the world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus’ will. You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea; for the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too.”

Mourning and crying have passed away, and we laugh with an off-pitch priest, singing a rollicking tune, which proclaims a joyful hope. Hope grounded in the grace that declares us, at root and at core, beloved children of God. Hope, founded in the truth we hold, that death cannot contain us and that we shall be liberated from any tomb that would keep us from the light that is Christ. So, hear this, beloved children--you are named and claimed by the God who pronounced all of creation, “good”, and brought forth the living from the dead. And, so today, we celebrate!

We celebrate, and, with this understanding of sainthood in hand, we note the remarkable nature of our liturgical actions--we’re about to make B, V and G, saints. Saints amongst saints, amongst the living and the dead, amongst the great cloud of witnesses. And, in this, they will become part of something far bigger than themselves, united to all those who have been baptized, all those who have gone before, and all those yet to come.

This moment is a miracle—for out of death comes life, and out of the tomb emerges the living, and from the binding of death we will be freed!