All Saints Day 2020
Let us pray: We give thanks for the saints, the great, the not so great; the courageous, the faithful, the bold one and the timid ones who loved you each in their own time and place. For they have shown us the way to eternal life. Amen.
Look around you this day. Here are the saints, but if you look in a different direction,
inside, there you will find even more saints. The ones who have nurtured each of us
who have now passed on through death into eternity. We have the names of those who have died this past year in our bulletins; we have many who have died in years past
on the leaves behind me and under the trees surrounding this place. The saints are here with us.
They are also in our Scripture this day especially from the book of Revelation. A book that will take us to the heights of glory and drop us down to the depths of depravity.
Here in this reading are the saints continually giving glory to God, for they have come through great tribulation and now rest in God. They are without number, a multitude so large the author of Revelation cannot even begin to count them. If each of us here today were to name those who are our saints we would also begin to lose count.
Perhaps a Sunday School teacher or a parent. A friend who died a long time ago at a young age. A school teacher who led us along the path that brought us to our vocation.
Saints surround us each and every day. And we would not be here if it were not for them. Some of us have our favorites: Julian of Norwich (you knew I would name her)
Teresa of Avila…John of the Cross…Peter…Paul…John…Mary of Magdala…
Mary the mother of Jesus. And the list goes on without number.
Jesus names them as well. Those who knew what it was to be troubled by the world and the hatred that surrounded their community. Jesus calls them blessed. Not happy,
not content, but blessed. This is again his great reversal that the least are again the greatest. The ones who are outwardly experiencing no peace are the ones who have the most peace inwardly. The term blessed that Jesus uses here comes from the wisdom and the prophetic literature of the Old Testament. We find this kind of language over and over in the book of Psalms. Blessed are those in dire circumstances
(like our saint Bartholomew who was skinned alive) but will yet receive vindication at the coming of the kingdom of God. We name language like this gospel reading
The Beatitudes as they are prophetic declarations that are made on the conviction that God’s kingdom is not only on its way but is already here. And if God’s kingdom is already here, then we must beyond any doubt, conform our common life as the community in this time, this place, to live out these kingdom values. It’s the already and the not yet of God’s presence. We must wait until God finishes the new creation;
we must wait like those saints around the throne in the beginning chapters of the book of Revelation for horror and death are yet to come. As we wait, we live out our faith based on the firm hope that meekness is the way of God. That poverty of spirit makes us incredibly rich in Jesus. That righteousness and peace will ultimately prevail.
That mercy not cruelty is a view into the future of God’s love for the world. For blessed are WE if we live this kind of life NOW!
Earlier in the book of Revelation we read about the church in Laodacea that is lukewarm and is warned God will spit them out if they keep sitting on the fence about being
faithful to Jesus. Jesus’ beatitudes are about being so unwavering in our focus of the coming kingdom of God there is no opportunity to be lukewarm. We must not be like that church in Revelation for as many have said century after century, the time is short and we only have this one life to live. Gather our saints around us this day and live without fear and without compromise.
“I sing a song of the Saints of God
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green
they were all of them saints of God and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.” Amen.