All Saints Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019

Title:All Saints Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019

 All Saints, Year C, Nov. 3, 2019 (full size gallery)

“On All Saints’ Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we may have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own.” – “All Saints Day” from “The Sacred Journey” by Frederick Buechner.

Another beautiful fall day with enough bite in the air! We had 39 saints this week with service that culminated in a potluck coffee hour – chicken, cauliflower soup, several types of bread, Mexican food, salad and dessert with various cookies.

We celebrated Clarence and Betty’s 53rd wedding anniversary and Andrea’s birthday.

It was the kickoff for the UTO collection (by Dec. 1) and the Episcopal Men’s Thanksgiving collection (due Nov 17).

We also had 3 dogs and Catherine announced that St. Peter’s was dog friendly!

The Prayers of the People was a special version which included a list of those who have died over the past year. We tolled the bell and recited the poem “We Remember Them” by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer.

The Eucharistic Prayer was designed for All Saints . It remembers those from Jesus time as well as our own. “And only sight prevents us from seeing them, for they are one with us on the other side.” “Heaven is here, and earth, and the space is thin between them. Distance may divide, but Christ’s promise unites those of us still bounded by time, and those who are now blessed by eternity. Let heaven be glad.”

It also includes praise for God’s work at St. Peter’s:

“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.

“As Jesus was, we are called to times of service, but also to solitude, to vast stores of unused quiet to be with You, to immensities of rivers, oceans and skies that enlarge our souls and remind us of eternity, and what passes, but with promise.”

The lectionary’s emphasis this Sunday is in celebrating the people of God. All Saint’s Days commemorates not only all the martyrs but all the people of God, living and dead, who form the mystical body of Christ. The saints have come to know God, not by their own efforts, but by the power of God in Christ. Those who have put their lives in Christ’s hands should trust the one whom God has made the head of all things for the church which is his body.

The Psalm emphasizes the praise response we should have. Paul in Ephesians gives thanks for the blessings we have received through Christ: bringing us into union with God. The Old Testament from Daniel is a vision – emphasizing a progression that earthly kingdoms will pass to make way for the kingdom of God.

The Gospel is Luke’s version of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Matthew has a much more elaborate sermon, and it on the mount, the place of revelation and transcendence. Luke has the sermon on the level place, among the people, talking to them about how to live in this world.

Luke tells us of four beatitudes (vv. 20-22) and corresponding woes or warnings of deprivation in the age to come. The law is to give direction to our lives and lead us to Christ

Some of the beattitudes are “blessed” (happy) by being included in the Kingdom Jesus brings. The warnings are prophecies, cautions. The pairs are:

the “poor” (v. 20) and the “rich” (v. 24);
the “hungry” (v. 21a) and the “full” (v. 25a);
the sorrowful (v. 21b) and the joyous (v. 25b); and
the persecuted (v. 22) and the popular (v. 26).

The “poor” are those who acknowledge their dependence on God. The “rich” do not want to commit themselves to Jesus and the Kingdom; they are comfortable in their self-sufficiency. The word translated “consolation” (v. 24) is a financial term: they do not realize what they owe to Jesus.

If we understand that God’s kingdom, God’s culture, is one not based on such divisions, then we are already blessed. God’s cultural order does not depend on divisions between rich and poor.

The sermon took up Luke’s Gospel

“In today’s gospel from Luke, the Sermon on the Plain, as it is known, Jesus talks about open doors and shut doors.

“The blessed are the ones whose doors are open

“Jesus also has some words for those who don’t come to the door at all. These people don’t want to look at anything more than their own comfortable surroundings.

“Why should they open the door? They already have what they need

“But Jesus says, woe to you when you don’t open your door and see the need around you. Your reward is now and it is finite, frozen in this time and place, like some beautiful creature trapped and dead in a piece of amber for eternity.

“This Day, All Saints’ Day, we hear a knock at the door.

“And when we throw open the door and welcome him in, Jesus will pause with us at the threshold of the doorway, looking back with us on all that has been, and looking out with us on all that will be.

“Today is the day that we see once more all of those who have gone before us, the ones who in their lifetimes heard Jesus knock, and who opened their doors and let Jesus in, and sat down with him and ate with him. These saints who went before us are the ones who, being fed with the unconditional love, mercy and companionship of Jesus, then carried that love, mercy and gracious companionship out into the world, to knock on other doors, as they served God’s beloved earth and God’s beloved children.”