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For All the Saints

Pentecost 24, Common Lectionary Year C  

Luke 6:20-21, Ephesians 1

©2013 Rev. Elisabeth R. Jones

Audio file

Most Sundays at Cedar Park we delve into the living text of Scripture  for God’s guidance and the Spirit’s leading on how we can live as followers of the Way of Jesus Christ. But there are other times, and today is one of them, where the Scriptures we’ve just heard play a supporting role to the inspiration God has written into the living text of human lives.

There’s been a verse of an English hymn that’s been playing in my head all through my preparations for today that makes my point:   The world is filled with living saints, who choose to do God’s will, You can meet them in school, on the road, or at sea; In church, in a train, in a shop, or at tea; For the saints are folk like you and like me, and I mean to be one, too.

Now, for much of Protestant history, this day, All Saints Day, was left to the Roman Catholics. My (admittedly dated) recollection of the Feast of All Saints was to recite the seemingly eternal Litany of Saints long dead, great virgins and martyrs and giants of  the faith. …..James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Fabian, Sebastian, Ambrose, Agatha, Lucy, Catherine, Clare….!!

“This has nothing to do with us!” good Protestants  have long thought. But thanks be to God, in recent years, with a more open-hearted  approach to our faith we’ve rediscovered a gift etched but almost unnoticed in scripture and imprinted indelibly upon the human soul; we have redeciphered, strengthened and broadened our understanding and appreciation for the true meaning of this English word, “Saint,” which at its simplest, and most profound, means,  ‘one blessed by the grace and love of God.’

Let’s see in Scripture, here our letter-writer to the Ephesians imagines the company of both the living and dead bound together in their common partnership with God to live God’s Dream, and calls them all ‘Saints’ – the blessed ones of God.

And Luke reminds us that the saints of God are not heroes by any human measure, but in fact their opposite; “Blessed are you”  – he writes, “Saints you are to God, if you are a loser, poor, of no political or economic account, blessed by God if you weep,” Blessed, saints, because in the curious economy of God, it is those of little account in the world in whom  God invests the richest blessings, of love, care and the Dream of God to change the world.

All that is needed to be the Saints of God is to be open to, needful of God’s blessing and grace.

You can meet them in school, on the road, or at sea; In church, in a train, in a shop, or at tea; for the saints are folk like you and like me.

Our Litany of Saints is printed on the lives  we have lived and shared with those we remember today. Our gathering is the opportunity for the company of living saints to be blessed by the loving remembrance of the saints of God who shared our pews, and our family adventures.

The tears quietly shed today are proof that we, the living, have been blessed with love that endures and defeats mortal death.

Rekindling the liveliness of our loved ones with the flame of Christ’s light, we will be reminded of the saints who walked among us, not as robe-clad holy heroes, but as ordinary folk, blessed by the grace and love of God, to be partners in ways small and great, in the living of God’s Dream.

At sea, or at tea,  these ordinary folk, these Saints remind us we can be one too.

Saints alive!

Amen.

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