All Saint’s Sunday—Year A—Nov 2, 2014
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.
- Have you ever heard the word “saint” before?
- What does it mean?
- Famous, really good Christian
- Someone who does everything perfectly correct
- Someone who is dead
- A role model of the Christian faith
- All of us!
- It means all of these things…so I want you to repeat after me “I am a saint”…now look at someone next to you and say “and so are you”. Now go back to your seats and say it to 2 people: “I am a saint and so are you.”
You just hear heard the kids and I talk about all the different ways you can define what is a “saint,” but today’s readings tell us even more about a couple of these categories.
It does not talk about how the Catholic church or any other denominations for that matter decide who gets commemorated each year as a saint (see p.____ for the Lutheran list).
It does not list how good you have to be, or how little misbehaving you are allowed to be a part of, or anything about the manner in which you have to die in order to be considered.
It does say:
- There is “a great multitude that no one can count”…not some special list (Revelation 7:9)
- They come from all over…”from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages”…they are not just talked old, dead, white guys (Revelation 7:9)
- They are” robed in white”…think Baptismal garment, which I and the acolyte wear each week to symbolize my sameness with you (Revelation 7:9)
- They “have come out of the great ordeal” (Revelation 7:14)
Have you been through a great ordeal?
I guess it depends on how you define “great,” but I would be shocked if anyone here this morning cannot think of a hard time they have gone through…cancer, back pain, leaving home, depression, divorce, hunger, illness, injury, joblessness…grief over the loss of a loved one.
If it were not for this last one, we would have no list to read, no bells to hear, and no candles to light.
In one way, it is death that gathers us here this morning (and every Sunday morning for that matter). Not necessarily the fear of death, but the acknowledgement that it will happen to all us one day. And the hope that it is not the end of the story!
All the saints…those who have gone before us, all of us, and those still to come, will encounter some great ordeal—poorness of spirit, mourning, meekness, hunger and thirst, persecution. But along with that honesty, we also get a promise that the power of God is greater than even the greatest of ordeals.
God is our shelter, and in the end…
- No one will hunger
- No one will thirst
- The sun will not strike any of the saints
- Nor the scorching hear
For the Lord is our shepherd and will guide all the saints “to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17).
This is why we are able to bless the Lord at all times.
Why (as Leonard Cohen writes and Rufus Wainwright famously sings in the movie Shrek) we have nothing on our tongue but Hallelujah…even in those times when it is “a cold and broken hallelujah”.
Why we are able to shout, praise, and pled “Amen.”
Life is not all sunshine and roses just because we know God. In some cases, Jesus actually makes life harder—separates us from peers, forces us to confront injustice (not just ignore it), look out for the good of creation (not just ourselves), and sometimes even leads to persecution. However, we can still be happy, called blessed even, in those hard times because God’s promises are stronger—and therefore so is our hope. God has declared us all children of God—saints—and has suffered so that there might be an end to ours, and a surely new life overshadows our inevitable death.
Amen. Thanks be to God! Hallelujah!