Summary: A sermon for All Saints Sunday, Series A
All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2008 “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, inspires 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.
I would like to begin by sharing a story with you that I had heard several years ago. It goes something like this. Emily and John had been married for even years, and Emily was growing increasingly concerned about the way their relationship was going. She believed that John was becoming less attentive to her, less appreciative of the things she did for him. Nothing seemed to please him anymore.
But Emily kept on trying to gain some expression from John that would reassure her of his love for her. And so, one morning she asked John what he would like for breakfast. He answered, “I’ll have orange juice, toast, coffee, and two eggs – one fried sunny side up, and the other one scrambled.”
Emily hurried into the kitchen and put her best effort into making a breakfast that would evoke some word of recognition from her husband. She went into the garden and picked fresh flowers for the table. She fixed her hair and put on her prettiest robe. She graced the table with lighted candles and her best linen. Then she called to the bedroom, “John, your breakfast is ready. Come and eat.”
John walked into the dining room and sat down. Emily stood beside him, waiting for the words of appreciation she longed to hear. John looked at his plate, then looked up at his wife and said, “Emily, you’ve done it again. You scrambled the wrong egg.”
I think we can agree that John’s response to Emily’s breakfast was not exactly what she wanted to hear. And perhaps, if John could avoid the frying pan colliding with his head long enough to convince Emily that he was only joking, that he really does, not only appreciate all that she does for him, but also her as a person, it could become an opportunity for growth in their relationship.
And I’m sure that Josie can resonate with this story, for I know that I have often failed to express my appreciation to her for all that she does for me, and to let her know how much I dearly love her. And this brings us to crux of the issue on this day that we celebrate the lives of All the Saints. None of us are perfect. In fact, if we can fail to express our love and appreciation for the persons closest to us in the life that we share together on this earth, how much easier it is to fail to live our lives in appreciation and love for God, and his gift of redeeming grace that we receive through Christ’s death and resurrection.
One of the famous statements of Luther, which has special meaning as we celebrate All Saints Sunday, is that we are, at the same time, both sinners and saints. Luther realized that being faithful disciples of Christ is always the goal, never the reality, as long as we live in this world.
Thus, Luther stated that as a Christian, he daily fought the battle against sin, that he recognized within himself, day in and day out, aspects of his life that were not as he thought God would desire. This manifest itself, not only in his lack of respect for God, but also in his relationship with those whom he loved.
But Luther also recognized, day in and day out, that God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ’s death and resurrection, was sufficient to overcome his guilt, that he might stand before God as a saint, redeemed by the blood of Christ. If there is any celebration in remembering the saints, in remembering those who have gone before us into the Church Triumphant, it rests not in our recognition of their sainthood, but in the sainthood they received through their faith in the crucified and risen Christ.
Just think of those great, historical saints, whom the church has honored for centuries. Think of the Apostles, Peter, James and John, who were arguably Jesus’ closest disciples during his earthly ministry. Peter would have prevented Jesus from accepting the cross for our redemption, yet when Jesus was arrested, he denied he even knew him – not once but three times.