All Saints Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018

Title:All Saints Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018

 All Saints, Nov. 4 2018 (full size gallery)

This week featured a famous heist -All Saints’ Pumpkin Caper. Catherine and the Fitzhughs journey to a secret location where they gleaned about 35 pumpkins destined for November food distribution on Nov. 21, Village Harvest, 3pm-5pm. Definitely a sunrise operation!

We celebrated today Andrea’s birthday and Clarence and Betty’s 65th wedding anniversary!

Catherine, Cookie and Johnny spent Thursday through Sat at Diocese Annual Convention in Richmond. It was the last convention for Bishop Shannon who is retiring. At the conclusion of Friday’s proceedings, he passed presiding duties to the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, Bishop Suffragan. Highlights of the convention can be found here.

We had special All Saints events. We had a handout of those who had died, a tolling of the bell and a reading of “We Remember Them by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer. It was made more meaningful due to the Anti-Semitic attack in the last week.

We also had parishioners light a candle and put it in the front stand for relatives and friends who had died:

Finally, there was a special Eucharistic Prayer for All Saints Day that blended in the names of the famous saints and those from the church had died.

This Sunday was also the kickoff of the Season of Giving, spotlighting 5 charities through the middle of December. Today was the kickoff of the Episcopal Church Men and UTO portions. We also have an online giving site.

The sermon challenged to see like the saints. “Seeing with the eyes of the saints is like putting on saintly eyeglasses that reveal truths that we would not see otherwise.

“But we, who put on saintly glasses, can see that what the saints and our loved ones suffered here on earth before they died was not punishment, but instead, teaching and testing that made them. strong. We can see that they now burn and shine as brightly and as indestructibly as gold.

“With saintly sight, we can shine forth like the saints and break through the blindness that surrounds us and be light, not only in the life to come, but in our lives, here and now.

“With the eyesight of the saints, we can see at last how to be people of faith and to abide in God’s love. When we live through God’s grace and in God’s mercy, we can SEE God watching over us, and we can feel God’s hand holding us.

“With the eyesight of the saints, we can see beyond the color of people’s skins, we can see beyond their nationalities, we can see beyond their sexualities, we can see beyond their wealth or their power, and we see instead only God’s children, who are the neighbors that Jesus asks us to love as God loves each one of us.”

Today’s readings acknowledge the life and witness of the saints of God, including you and your group members. The author of Wisdom affirms that the dead, though gone from our sight, are at peace with God. Isaiah imagines the final, celebratory feast that will be the reward of the faithful. The author of Revelation similarly depicts the jubilant end of suffering and oppression, replaced with victory and feasting. The gospel reading—the raising of Lazarus—points forward to the final resurrection of all God’s people.

The reading from Wisdom shows for the first time in the Old Testament the affirmation of life after death (“immortality,” v. 4). In the second century BC when this book was written, Judaism did not have a very clear-cut notion of life after death. Most Jews believed that the soul somehow existed on in a realm below the ground (Hebrew, Sheol), but held that without a body there could hardly be genuine “life” after death.

Contrasting the different interpretations of the wise and foolish about the dead, the author asserts that the “souls” of the dead are at peace with God and do not simply vanish when they die. Their sufferings in life are not simply a source of punishment but rather an opportunity for education and a proof of their fidelity to God, who rewards this faithfulness with an abiding relationship that continues beyond death.

Isaiah’s reading comes from a section (chaps. 24–27) that is often called Isaiah’s Apocalypse because of its vision of the last days. One of the characteristics of this revelatory writing called “apocalyptic” is its combination of despair over the community’s present social situation with confident hope of God’s final intervention to judge and save.

Chapter 25 begins with a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance. Isaiah imagines the end time, “that day (v. 9) when the Lord will come for final judgment and salvation. On Mount Zion (24:23) the Lord will prepare a feast of rich abundance for all peoples. For Jews, all meals had religious significance. Here a feast provided by God becomes an anticipated element of the last days. Mourning will end, and death will be destroyed. Those who were preserved through God’s judgment, described in chapter 24, the remnant, will celebrate God’s faithfulness.

John’s visions in the book of Revelation reveal our world as God sees it. In this final vision, John sees what our world will be like when finally God rules and all evil, together with its consequences of death, mourning, wailing and pain, will be no more (21:4). He pictures the completion of God’s action in salvation history that began with the first creation of a world that became flawed by sin (Genesis 1–3) and needed redemption, and culminates in this new creation transformed completely by God’s holy presence and power.

When “the old order has passed away” (21:4), John sees in its place a new order—a city prepared for our dwelling that comes down from God instead of being built up by human effort. Now God’s holy people (all the saints) can experience the fullness of God’s abiding presence (21:3, 22-27). John reminds us that God is the beginning and end of our lives and is always transforming us into saints—better members of God’s holy people.

The Gospel from John is the raising of Lazarus. John combines a sign narrative and a teaching dialogue, making clear the meaning of this last and greatest of Jesus’ signs revealing “the glory of God” (v. 40), God’s presence in the person and acts of Jesus.

In this gospel the raising of Lazarus plays a role similar to that of the disruption of the temple business in the other gospels. It is the final pivotal event solidifying the hostility of the authorities against Jesus and marking the transition from ministry to passion.

The note that when Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days (burial customarily took place within 24 hours in their hot climate) establishes that he was truly dead, for popular belief held that the soul of a person remained near the body for three days. Jesus reacts to the situation with intense emotion.