All Saints, Nov. 5, 2017

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Title:All Saints, Nov. 5, 2017

 Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, All Saints (full size gallery)

All Saints is a time we remember those who have passed on. In doing so we remember our own collective church history both people and building.

In the slide show are pictures of how All Saints has been celebrated in the past few years. In 2014, Johan and his wife from Sweden with their daughter Bella came. They were married at St. Peter’s in 2003. She was a member of the family that was the last lessee of the Parish House. The next year it was a blessing of a new paschal calendar and also a baptism of Scarlett Joy Long. In 2016, was the dedication of the altarpiece, the kitchen and a guest sermon from the Rev. Charles Sydnor.

This year’s celebration may not have these elements but an important time to recognize those who have gone before us. They were read as part of the Prayers of the People with the tolling of the bell. There was also a special All Saints Eucharistic prayer which included thanks for the church:.

"We thank you, Holy Creator, that you allow us to live surrounded by the evidence of your divinity at St Peter’s: Your sun pours in through the tall clear windows, light and shadows playing across these holy walls and holy words like the joys and sorrows that come and go in our lives. We thank you for the ever-shifting beauty of the Rappahannock River, for the shade of the sycamores, for the flowers that bloom in their season, for the smell of newly cut grass, for the crunch of autumn leaves. We thank you for the laughter and the tears that we have shared together."

The bulletin is here with the service and the handouts. The All Saints readings are here

This Sunday was the kickoff of the UTO fall ingathering which will run until Dec. 3. In 2016, the members of St Peter’s generously donated over a thousand dollars for outreach around the world.

The ECM has already been collecting for Thanksgiving and Christmas. $1,085 was contributed last year. 3 families were served in Thanksgiving. "They all received a 16 pound turkey, a spiral sliced ham, potatoes, onions, cut green beans, peas, cranberry sauce, apples, sweet potatoes, and a pumpkin pie.

We celebrated Andrea and John’s birthday today as well as Betty and Clarence’s 64th wedding anniversary. As Catherine said they are models for all of us.

Today’s readings explore the rich blessings God intends for the saints. The vision in Revelation assures us of God’s ultimate triumph over evil, sadness and death, a victory to be shared with the faithful. 1 John reminds us that we are God’ children now, full participants in God’s kingdom. In the gospel, Jesus describes the blessings that are ours as we depend on God and work for the kingdom.

Revelation, an example of apocalyptic literature, conveys mysteries—both earthly and heavenly—in a highly symbolic fashion. Verses 9-17 describe the second of two visions, telling of the assured victory of God and God’s people. The ethnic diversity and innumerabiity of the “great multitude” (v. 9) indicates the universality of the redeemed. Their white robes are a sign of purity and righteousness, and they recall the white robe put on the newly baptized.

Those who have “come out of the great ordeal” (v. 14) include those who have suffered martyrdom and all who have endured faithfully. The destiny of the redeemed weaves together images from the Old Testament: service and shelter, satisfaction of hunger and thirst, the guidance of their shepherd and the end of all sorrow.

The Gospel is Matthew’s version of the Beatitudes. Significantly Jesus goes up to the mountain origin of wisdom – the Old Testament and now the New Testament.

The Beatitudes introduce the Sermon on the Mount and describe those who are in the kingdom. The “blessed” in the Old Testament receive an earthly fulfillment—of prosperity, offspring and long life. Jesus offers heavenly blessings, for the kingdom is present in him.

The first four beatitudes are directed to those who by their real deprivation, both physical and spiritual, depend on God, and through their faith do indeed rely upon God.

The next four beatitudes concern those who act, as in the kingdom, to set things right. The “pure in heart” are those whose thoughts and wills are centered on God. The name of the peacemakers, “children of God,” is that given to Israel (Hosea 1:10). Persecution was common in the early Church, as we see in Matthew 10:16-33, Mark 10:30 and 1 Peter 3:14.

The Beatitudes are not conditional; they address the present situation of those who look to God. The kingdom of heaven is a present reality with Jesus’ advent, one that the poor and persecuted especially enjoy.

Jesus describes people who are living passionately and fully. He never mentions their successes. Rather, he speaks of their convictions. For instance, he uses words that we apply to our deepest human needs—hunger and thirst—to describe their commitment to justice. The saints are never miserly. They spend themselves with extravagance. They rarely offer the wimpy excuse, but often bellow Yes!

Such intensity enables them to take risks. Saints can be as saucy as the Samaritan woman who reminded an itinerant rabbi that he had no bucket and the well was deep. They can be bold as the woman anointing Jesus for his burial and wiping his feet with her hair. When she let down her hair—a gesture customarily done only for a woman’s husband—she took an enormous risk that Jesus would understand. He did and memorialized her wherever the gospel is proclaimed.

Those who cringe at the thought of such public display can rejoice that all manner of sainthood is pleasing to Jesus. We remember and affirm the truth of Mother Teresa’s words: “I have to be a saint in my own way; you have to be a saint in your own way.” Our first step to being saints is to be ourselves and follow the path that God has designed for us.

It seems inevitable that human beings will slide off that path now and then. But while some of us would wallow in the misery of failure, the saintly attitude seems to be one of bouncing back. We might be meek enough to recognize that we won’t always get it right, but we always try again.

All these saintly attributes are formed and grounded in prayer. Part of being poor in spirit is recognizing our limitations, then calling on God repeatedly to compensate for what we lack. No matter how late she went to bed, Mother Teresa rose at 4:30 a.m. to pray. Asked if the wearing effects of jet lag wouldn’t sometimes interfere with that practice, she smiled and responded, “Never. I can sleep fast.” The more she prayed, the more energy she had. Today we celebrate such splendid attitudes and such saints.

The sermon is subtitled "Blessed are those who mourn" since is concentrates that phrase. Many of the ideas reflect the 223rd Diocese convention, the highlights which are here and held yesterday, Nov. 4, 2017.

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