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Summary: This sermon is centered on the theme of All Saints Sunday, a theme we all need to contemplate.

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All Saints Sunday, November 5,2006 “Series B”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for all your saints throughout the ages, both great and small – all who have revealed your word in faithfulness and who have enabled the proclamation of your redeeming grace in Jesus the Christ to be passed on from generation to generation. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us and give us courage to continue to witness to the message of the Gospel through our lives, so that it might continue to nurture faith for generations to come. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

Mark Wegener suggested in his commentary that the celebration of All Saints Sunday embraces three different emphases. First, he said, The day can commemorate the ancient and famous saints whose lives of faith and good works still serve as an inspiration to Christian people of every age. Second, the day can be a time to remember close family members and friends who have died, especially the members of our congregation who have entered the church triumphant during the past year.

And finally, Wegener suggested that All Saints Sunday can celebrate the fact that all Christian people are truly saints, that the church is the people of God who have been made righteous and holy for Christ’s sake. [1] Of course, I don’t believe that Wegener is suggesting that we present day Christians are sinless, but rather that we have, as a result of our baptism and nurture in the Christian faith, been called to be disciples of Christ and witnesses to the redeeming grace of God active in our live.

Thus, before commenting on these three aspects of this festival of the church, we might consider the following illustration as a working definition of a saint. William H. Willimon, the former Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, wrote that a friend had accompanied a father and his young son on a tour of that magnificent chapel. They walked up and down the aisles, taking in the beauty of the stained glass windows. The father then asked his young son, “Do you know who the saints are?” The young boy answered, “Sure, the saints are the people where the sun shines through.”

Dr. Willimon concluded, that this is not a bad definition of a saint. A saint is a person through whom the Son shines. [2]

With this in mind, let’s consider a few of those ancient and famous saints. Take Peter, for example. Jesus referred to him as “the rock.” And yet, he was anything but solid in his faith and trust of Jesus, until he came to experience our Lord, risen from the dead. He was always blurting out things before he thought them through. He even denied he knew Jesus the night Jesus was arrested.

Of course, the other disciples were not any different. They all failed to understand the significance of our Lord’s teachings, and they all cowered in fear behind locked doors, until they, too, came to experience Jesus risen from the dead. In fact, if you take a good and honest look at most of the persons who occupy the pages of the Bible, you will discover that they are very human individuals, who struggled with their faith. They were not much different than you and me.

And yet, through the power of God’s Spirit working through them, they gained the courage and power to rise above their weakness, and become witnesses to the grace of God, active in their lives. They became windows, through which Son of God could shine and illumine the lives of others, giving to us living today, hope and encouragement.

Think of Paul, another ancient saint. He actually persecuted those who had come to believe in Jesus as the Christ. He participated in the stoning of Stephen. And yet, through the power of God’s Spirit, Paul came to faith in the risen Christ, went on to spread the Gospel throughout most of the known world, and through his writings, has inspired many persons on how our faith in Christ might direct us in how we live our lives. He was a window, through which the Son of God could shine.

No, the ancient saints of the Bible, nor the saints in the generations since, were not such holy people, so different from us normal folk. Yet through their baptism and participation in the communion of Christ’s church, God’s Spirit was able to use them as windows through which God could nurture and inspire faith in others.

That is also true of the second aspect of this festival Sunday, as we pause to remember the lives of those closest to us, who have entered into the glory of the church triumphant this past year. I remember Ada Marie Kaufman, whom I must admit, I haven’t had much contact with for nearly ten years, since she moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, and worshiped with them at Christ Lutheran.

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