Summary: A sermon for All Saints Sunday.
“The Eternal Celebration”
By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Most of us were given our first glimpse of Jesus through one of His saints.
Maybe it was our mother or father.
Maybe it was a neighbor, school teacher or friend.
Maybe it was a pastor or a member of the church fellowship we were raised in or a Sunday School teacher.
Whoever it was, there was something about them…
…something that separated them from the rest of the crowd…
…something special about them that intrigued us and caused us to want to have that something special as well.
They were the people who would go the extra mile for us…
…they were the people that we knew we could count on no matter what…
…they were the people who made us feel special, who made us feel loved…
…who gave us just a glimpse of the Divine.
A fantastic pastor who I grew up knowing told the story of his introduction to Christ, to his calling in life, to the Church.
He was raised in a family that did not attend church.
His father was a loving, but hardened man, and they didn’t have a lot of money.
Well, this pastor, his name was Bob…
…when he was a young boy he used to deliver papers.
And I know that many of the younger people here probably aren’t very familiar with paperboys…there really haven’t been paperboys for a good fifteen years or so.
I used to be a paperboy, and so did most of my friends.
I would get up early every morning…at about 4:30…a distributor would drop the papers off in front of my house…
…I would put the sixty or so newspapers in my newspaper bag, get on my bike and deliver the paper before going to school.
We paperboys would get to know our customers pretty well because each week we had to go to each of there houses, ring the doorbell and collect the cost of a week’s worth of newspapers.
Oftentimes we’d make a little tip.
Well, one of the customers on Bob’s route was a Methodist Minister, and one day when Bob came to ring the man’s doorbell to collect his paper money the minister said to him: “You know Bob, I was wondering. You know I’m the pastor of the Methodist Church down the street. And we don’t have anyone to hand out bulletins on Sunday mornings. I wonder if you’d be willing to come hand out our bulletins?”
Bob was astonished.
He’d never been in a church before, let alone handed out bulletins, but he was honored that this nice man had asked him to do this…
…so he decided he would give it a shot.
Well, this invitation to hand out bulletins at the Methodist Church turned out to be the changing point in Bob’s life.
He met and was befriended by the dear saints of this church who loved him, took him under their wing, became his family, and taught him the love of Jesus.
Bob ended up going on to seminary, and from there had a lifelong ministry of loving others into God’s kingdom.
I didn’t meet Bob until he had already retired from the ministry…
…but then, Bob never really did retire.
In retirement he was the minister of visitation at our church, would occasionally preach, and led the weekly Bible study.
My mother, who attended the Bible study, would invite Bob over for dinner every Tuesday night before Bible study and Bob took a keen interest in me.
He would tell me that I ought to go into the ministry…
…I was flattered, but I thought he was crazy.
Before I left for college Bob showed up on my doorstep and handed me a small leather-bound Bible for me to take with me to school.
That was the first Bible that I really, really read…that was the Bible I was using when I had my born again experience.
While in college, Bob paid for me to fly out to St. Louis in order to attend a conference for young people thinking about entering the ministry.
Bob used to tell me: “I look forward to the day when I can attend your ordination.”
Well, Bob passed away several years ago.
So, when I am fully ordained an Elder, Lord willing, in 2005 at the Hampton Coliseum Bob won’t be there physically…but he will be there in spirit.
Bob and many others like him have put their full trust in the Lord, given their complete lives to Him in service and have found more out of life than they ever could have imagined.
And because of this, they have also lived their lives to pass on this fullness of life to others.