Summary: This is a sermon from all saints day that suggests three lessons we can learn about the saints: 1) We are the saints, so live like it. 2) Learn wisdom from studying the lives of the saints. 3) Embrace and treat one another like saints.
Lessons From The Saints
November 3rd, 2019.
Thank you for the way you’ve embraced me and made me feel at home. People have sent messages, cards, posted kind things on my Facebook wall, and sent very kind emails.
The willingness to welcome, accept, and embrace one another is more than the slogan, “The Episcopal Church welcomes you.” It is the beatitudes, and it is the way of the saints.
Allow me a confession: I intended to preach the conventional All Saints’ Day sermon, “Tell some stories about the saints, then say, “be like them, and embrace suffering.” That sermon is safe, and everyone has heard it before. So, I said to myself, “It’s your first Sunday, make sure you do a decent job so they’ll like you.”
Then the real sermon hit me… I knew that I’d let the church inform the first sermon. I will preach about unity, and how the saints can bring us together. I don’t mean unity in as us always agreeing on things. Jesus couldn’t even get that among his disciples. I mean people unified in Jesus who love one another and follow Jesus.
My sermon today is titled: “Lessons From The Saints.”
First Lesson: We are the saints.
The Gospel reading for All Saints is not the beatitudes by accident. These spiritual lessons Jesus teaches are the road the saints traveled through their spiritual journeys.
The beatitudes join us together; they are what make us one body. They teach us how to follow the way of Christ, and do unto others…
The beatitudes are a way of life common to all the saints: They follow the message of Jesus.
That word is scary… “saint.” It seems so lofty, unattainable. It’s one of those words that only belongs to three kinds of people: 1) Those the church canonized. 2) Our dear sweet kind great-great aunt Inez. Or, 3) If you’re a priest, a saint is always the priest you have to follow.
But the word isn’t just for people like St. Andrew the apostle, or St. Clare of Assisi. In the original language, the word saint is not a noun, it’s an adjective. It describes someone who was “set apart.” Here’s a secret? We can set ourselves apart. We can make a choice to embrace one another in love and unity.
Saints in the New Testament were not long deceased Christians who supposedly worked miracles after their deaths. Instead, they were Christian people set apart for, what PB Curry would call, The Jesus Movement.
So, who are the saints? We are. When we set ourselves apart from this angry and ego-centric society and follow Jesus, we are, as St. Paul said, one of the faithful.
A saint is literally one who sets their life apart from an angry and ego-centric society to follow the way of Jesus.
Second Lesson: Study the lives of the saints
Life is hard, and it inundates us with difficulties, pain, failures, and struggles. However, God does not abandon his children: then, or now.
Fr. Richard Rohr said, “Humans love and adore persons and creatures, not so much with concepts and abstract ideas.” The more we get to know the saints, the more we “love the person” and allow their lives to encourage our faith journey.
One saint who changed my life and helped me through the most challenging time in my life is St. John of the Cross. He wrote of the “Dark Night of the Soul.” He lived and died in the 16th century. But, the communion of saints connects us to him, and his advice still encourages me in my dark moments.
He encouraged me to stop trying to understand the circumstances and spiritual struggles that were beyond my comprehension. Instead, he taught me that God simply wants my trust. When we gather at the altar, St. John will be there with us.
Another saint I want us to study these next months is our patron saint, Saint Andrew. He will join the great cloud of witnesses, when we say: “We praise you, joining our voices with all the company of heaven who forever sing this hymn…”
If we’re embracing our patron saint, then we strive to follow the virtues he lived in the Gospels. The first time he appeared in the Gospels, he brought people to Jesus. He told his brother, Peter, “We have met the Christ, come and see.”
That sounds like the dreaded E-word that terrifies us as Episcopalians – Evangelism.
When we hear Evangelism, our minds automatically go to T.V. preachers who always want people to send them money. But that is not what the word means. You’ll likely hear me talk about reclaiming language over the next year.
Just because someone else took a word and manipulated it for their own gain does not mean that we can’t reclaim it. Bishop Curry doesn’t mind using the words, “Evangelism,” “revival,” and “Jesus.”