Nov. 2 : All Saints, Year A

Title:Nov. 2 : All Saints, Year A

 Sunday, November 2, 2014   (full size gallery)

Forward Movementyesterday carried a wonderful description of All Saints:

"On this day, as we remember all the saints who have come before us and all the saints who are in our lives, may we recognize that same kind of longing in one another. How may we offer the gifts of attention, affection, and our loving embraces? How might we see the hunger and thirst, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise, in our brothers and sisters? Perhaps it is in recognizing the hunger and thirst in our neighbors that we are filled. Perhaps it is by reaching out to one another in love that we become righteous, that we may be remembered as saints."

We had 46 at All Saints, a good crowd. We had two special guests – Laura Carey’s son and wife and Johan and his wife from Sweden with their daughter Bella. They were married at St. Peter’s in 2003 by Karen Woodruff. She was a member of the family that was the last lessee of the Parish House

It was a very blustery day with leaves swirling around the church. It was a mixture of sun and clouds.  The maples and oaks are changing leaves but the sycamores are just beginning.  The painting work on the outside continues.  The Market side appears to have been completely stripped and sanded with the other side less far advanced. It is fascinating to see an earlier blue paint that was used on the church. 

We celebrated the 61st wedding anniversary of Clarence and Betty and the birthday of Andrea. Coffee hour was provided by the Newmans and Becks with numerous sandwiches, cheese and cookies.

The Season of giving continued. Last week it was the ECM collecting funds for Thanksgiving and Christmas support of a family. This week it was Samaritan’s Purse and the UTO.  The Stewardship season also got under way with the pledge cards distributed (due Nov. 16).

We remembered the following at the service of All Saints that had died over the last year -Genevieve Davis, Marcus Edwards, Clinton Lee, Arthur Martin, and The Rev. Siobhan Patterson. 

The readings this week provide guidelines how saints should live their lives – in the present based on the Beatitudes while mindful that life isn’t easy, persecution abounds but that we live in God’s presence and that the hope of salvation remains.

The sermon  used an article "Neuro Ministry: How Science Informs Discipleship" by Dr Andrew Newberg, from Leadership Journal: Real Ministry in a Complex World. It was about the brain and there was a tie-in to All Saints.  "God gave us brains to help us become saints, with God’s help, of course. "

"Our brains can respond to change and we can make our brains better by making them more receptive to God’s light. Newburg has found that “positive perspectives about God are good for the brain. However, negative perspectives about God can be detrimental, causing stress, anxiety, and can cause depression and negative emotions.” 

"This is why praying the psalms is good for the brain. The psalms, with their many positive perspectives about God, can help us become powerfully good and generous people

"Newburg’s studies have found that when we pray and meditate, we have increased activity in the frontal lobe, and this is one of the areas of the brain that “is involved with compassion and positive emotions.” 

"When Jesus went up on the mountain and taught the beatitudes to the disciples, he talked about being poor in spirit, being willing to mourn, being meek, seeking righteousness, being merciful and pure in heart, being peacemakers and being able to handle persecution with understanding and compassion rather than through violence toward the persecutor. He was teaching the disciples about how to walk with lightness in the light of God. 

The sermon went into the role of the frontal lobe of the brain, the part that provides a balance in the brain again abrupt anger, hatred and detrimental emotoions. 

"And so the more we take Jesus up on his teaching, the more we are going to cultivate our frontal lobes and grow into the light of the Spirit and into Sainthood with a capital S.

"The the more we pray, the more we engage with our faith community, the more we reach out, the more we give, the more we want to do these things. Our brains actually become more receptive.

"So –if we are looking at God, tasting and seeing God, our brains begin to see God as God is, and we start reflecting those qualities of God that we are observing. “When God is revealed, we will be like God,” as the writer of First John says." 

Commentary Lance Ousley, Canon of the Diocese of Olympia

"Blessed are faithful stewards for they are living into the kingdom of God. As we reflect on All Saints this week, we can see how saints have lived and do live as stewards offering themselves and their resources for the establishment and proclamation of God’s kingdom in the world.  

"Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is an exposition on the kingdom of God coming into the world. The Beatitudes, (the "Blessed are the…), we find in the Gospel lesson this week describe actions and conditions of the heart that are indicative of faithful stewards proclaiming the presence of God’s kingdom with all that they are and all that they have. The actions and conditions of the heart that Jesus encourages in the Beatitudes describe a state of peace within that is both root and fruit of stewarding ourselves and our resources for God’s kingdom in the world.  

"The word that we translate in the Matthew 5 from the Greek manuscript to "blessed" also may be translated "happy." This is good for us to keep in mind for each of the Beatitudes that Jesus presents to us. Feeling blessed is a foundational motivation to offering one’s self and one’s treasure, responding in gratitude to that blessedness. Joy and happiness are natural results of offering ourselves to make a difference in the lives of others and in the world. As Paul reminds us in Acts 20:35 Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Part of this blessing is the inner peace that is found in being released from the pressures of cultural expectations through the counter-cultural actions of self-offering and resource giving that Jesus describes in his Beatitudes.  

"Responsive stewardship that identifies with others with compassionate working and giving for God’s kingdom in the world is a joyful endeavor that is not always understood by dominate culture. Certainly, Jesus’ Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount confronted the dominate cultural attitudes of his day holding up a deeper truth in our common humanity as Children of God. John’s 1st letter to the Church describes this counter-cultural reality and the joy and peace that comes with knowing that we belong to God, as do all people. Our faithful stewardship countering the dominant culture is a sacramental act as an outward and visible sign to the world displaying the inward and spiritual grace of blessedness in our lives!  

"Blessed are all the saints, for they have been faithful stewards for God’s kingdom in the world.

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