Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For ALL The Saints, resting or otherwise

All Saints Day 2013
for all the saints who from their labors rest.

That is how we usually think of saints, dead people. Dead people with halos around their heads, sitting in heaven somewhere with God’s smile shining on them.

We think of people like Bob Seigel, or Larry Zincke. Those who have gone before.

And we hope someday we will be remembered as a saint of the church. We hope we don’t mess up so much between now and our death that people will be willing to call us saints when we are remembered.

Today we celebrate and remember the saints who have gone before us. As the candles burn down, we remember that our lives are short, yet significant.

Short, yet significant. our lives are significant. To the world and to God. So significant that God calls us saints. That is our name.

What if, when I take a child down the aisle after baptism I would say, here I want to introduce you to Saint Madison. or Saint Braxton, or Saint Owen.

It would be proper and right for me to do that. For all the saints. For all those whose life dwells with God, who have been brought to the font and claimed for God, who have been given the power of the holy spirit through the waters of baptism and the testimony of this community of faith.
We can say with confidence: For all the saints. For us.

You probably know that the Apostle Paul often calls the people to whom he writes his letters: Saints. To the Saints in Ephesis, to the Saints in Corinth. But did you know that Saint is also a title given to God’s people in the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Scriptures? 

In Psalm 31 we read: "Love the Lord, all you God's saints.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord."

Sainthood really isn’t something that we attain. It doesn’t come to us as we work hard on our faith life. We don’t get more of it depending on how many bible studies we attend. We are saints of God. We are God’s beloved, chosen and holy people. Because God says so.

In the letter Paul writes to the Ephesians (1:1-23) he tells them that he is praying for them As saints of God he is praying: "That God would make you intelligent and discerning in knowing God personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is God is calling you to do,"

Paul wants the saints of God to grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life God has for followers, oh, the utter extravagance of God’s work in us who trust in God—endless energy, boundless strength!

Obviously, Sainthood isn’t for dead people. It is for people who are extravagantly, exuberantly, alive. Full of energy and boundless strength. It is for people who can see all that God is doing in the world. Who are thinking and taking note of God’s work in the world. Who point it out and say: Look, look, God is working. You think all is dark and hopeless but I see God working.

(To read of an example of young people being people of the Kingdom of God/Saints of God see the Blog Post on this blog dated October 31, 2013. Chatfield on a Halloween Night.)

Sainthood is for people who can see clearly the wonderful extravagance of God’s work in the world. The grace that is offered to everyone, at any time, as it is offered here at the Communion Table every time we serve Holy Communion*. Always freely given.

Sainthood is for people who can enter into the endless energy and boundless strength of the work of God in the world.

Sainthood isn’t for dead people. It is for people who are truly exuberantly ALIVE in God through the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus.

Sainthood is for US. Let us enter into it with our eyes wide open, our hearts expecting God to do great things in us and through us, and our minds focused on all that God is doing around us. Let us testify to the extravagant work of God’s energy in the world. Let us BE Saints.

*In the United Methodist Church, Holy Communion is celebrated as an ‘open table’. All are invited, no one is turned away. No one is asked for credentials nor to give an accounting for their lives. Just as Jesus said, “Come to the table.” So we say, “Come.”

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