Sermon Notes - October 20, 2019
Sermon Notes - November 18, 2019

All Saints

See I am making all things new Revelation 21 :5
Today we at St Elizabeth’s are observing the Feast of All Saints. It is a time put aside by the church to celebrate the lives of those known and unknown who have served God faithfully in their lifetime. One of my goals in highlighting this celebration on a Sunday is possibly because the readings chosen are often associated with funerals. We do not hear what is preached at our own farewell service so maybe it is good to hear what should and could be said about each of us when our time arrives.

 No one left behind is a phase that seems to have originated in the combat fields that inspired patriotism and sacrifice. It some how has seeped over into the wider community with numerous applications. It seems to permeate throughout one’s military career as often attested by wife Natalie in her work and Ministry at the V.A. It is used as a recruiting tool and a lifetime promise.

My friends All Saints reminds us that for Christians there is a similar phrase. “Whether we live or die we are the Lord’s possessions”. My friends at our baptism we made an agreement with God. Today we will be baptizing Brianna Ann Edwards and she will be sealed with Holy oil with the words” You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever!” Just as you may not have heard those words at your baptism you may not hear the comforting words at your death, but they will be said by those who have surrounded you in faith.

All Saints then is about you and me as well as those who would have heard those words when you could not and those to come who will hear words when you can longer do so. The work of the church is more than a keeper of old windows and liturgies as many may think but it is the crucible within which heaven and earth yesterday today and tomorrow share moments of grace and power. This is of vital importance because as the scriptures prophesied many things will and are passing away. Even as church leaders worry that young people are not coming so our churches are closing its important to note that they also killed Toys R Us, Barneys even Sesame Street is struggling. My friends we dwell in a time when our men folks are choosing to play video games over date nights and yoga is replacing prayer groups. So, no church service on a Sunday, no weddings on a Saturday and no baptisms at all.

All Saints celebrations stand as a stark reminder of persons unwillingness to participate in the challenges of dwelling in community. Increasingly we witness people withdraw to their various corners using all kinds of excuses, but a careful listening ear would detect something much deeper. At its heart it really is about losing the capacity to hope. It’s about losing the human capacity to transcend the present in order to walk boldly and faithfully into the future. Behold I make all things new is greater than what one maybe experiencing in the very present moment but what maybe occurring deep below the surface.

My friends in Christ when we share in community, we are called to enter the lives of others sharing and experiencing the most critical of moments in their lives. We share in their joys and successes; we build connections and learn the art of human touch both physical and emotional. We are allowed into moments of brokenness, illness pain grief and loss. All things that says we are humans not the Artificial Intelligence that is slowly creeping into our daily lives. My friends if we continue this way there eventually may have a generation that does not know what a hug is, a handshake or even the bounce much less a high five. Many who have chosen to be absent prefer to avoid the messy nature of community living and choose the pseudo-antiseptic life of social media that allows them to be involved vicariously. Our folks who left church to get partners on dating apps have now turned to egg freezing as they get busier yet more lonely.

My friends at this All Saints celebration my words to you are not mine but the Lord’s {Deuteronomy 31:6} “Be not dismayed, for I am with you. I will not fail you or forsake youwherever you go. Be strong and of good courage.” You are part of fascinating collage of God’s creation that made the choice to continue to believe that there is something more interesting than navel gazing. If we take the risk and look deeper, further and longer we may discover our true purpose of life. We will be able to understand that we are vital building blocks of the new thing that god is building in His world, We can discover that we are standing boldly on the shoulders of those who built before and we are strengthening our shoulders to carry those who will come after. Yet the joys are mystically present and transcendent. There is deep joy in knowing I apart of something bigger and greater than myself which will live on after I am gone. The house I now treasure will find a new owner. The car I drive will become second hand, the clothes I war will be worn by others not God owns my very soul. Thanks be to God there is a part of me which is both communal yet individual. The mystery of our faith is what we celebrate. Blessings to all both now and forever.