Summary: A sermon for All Saints Sunday.
All Saints Sunday November 6, 2005 “Series A”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, for all the saints, redeemed by the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ, we give you thanks. For all those who have cared for us, nurtured us, shared their faith with us, and gave us an example of discipleship to follow, we give you thanks. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us to follow their example by passing the mantle of faith on to others, trusting in the timeless dimension of your redeeming grace and the hope of life eternal in your heavenly kingdom. This we ask, in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Today we celebrate the festival of “All Saints,” a time to remember all of God’s faithful servants of time past, who, through their lives of faith, have humbly served God and their fellow human beings. It is a day in which we give thanks to God, that through the power of the Holy Spirit, working in the lives of his saints, both great and small, the faith of the church has been passed down from generation to generation.
And, of course, it has been a time to remember and give thanks to God for those members of our congregation who have died in faith and have, over the past year, entered the Church Triumphant. But in all honesty, I believe that this is the first time that I have stepped into the pulpit on All Saints Sunday, in my twenty-seven years of ordained ministry, that not a single person from the congregation has completed their journey of faith, promised to them at their baptism.
That does not mean that many of us have not lost loved ones over the past year that were not members of our congregation, or that we should not take this time to remember how so many persons from years past, have and continue to influence our lives as people of faith.
For example, I don’t think there are many days that go by in my life, especially as I get older, that I don’t think of my father, and they ways that he has influenced my life. Of course, Josie reminds me ever once in a while, that there are a few influences that I may have picked up from my Dad that aren’t so positive. Those reminders usually begin with the words, “Ron, you’re just like your father,” or “Ron, you are definitely your father’s son.”
But for the most part, I remember many positive ways that my father has influenced my life. And it wasn’t just my Dad. As my cousins and I have often shared, we had a unique childhood. My Dad was one of twelve children. Add to that their spouses and children, and the fact that we would all gather at Grandma’s house every Sunday night, and you had a small congregation of about seventy, who truly cared for one another.
Today, only one of Dad’s siblings remain, and counting my Mom, only two of their spouses. Many of their children have moved to other parts of the country. And so, what once was a very positive influence on my life, is
now all but a memory. But memories still influence our lives, and help us continue to grow as persons, and in faith. As I look back upon my childhood, and the influence that my family and so many others have had upon my life over the years, I must acknowledge that who I am today, including my faith in Jesus as the Christ, is a result of their being a part of my life.
Thus, on this day, we remember our past, we remember those who have touched our lives in a way that has enabled us to grow as persons, and more importantly, as children of God. We remember and give thanks to God for the guidance of his Holy Spirit, who has enabled us to glean from our family and those close to us, what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
In his book, Whistling in the Dark, Frederick Buechner writes, “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind, even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my words and speak to me in your heart.” End quote.
But since we are not remembering a recent loss to our congregation, I have chosen to take a different approach to my sermon for this morning, and focus, not just on God’s saints from the past, but also on our role as God’s saints in the present, as we await God’s promise of our future, given to us through our baptism. Thus, I have chosen as my text for this morning, our second lesson, recorded in the third chapter of First John.