May Your Hearts Live Forever (Sermon #AllSaintsDay)

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Adult Education Last Week

  • One of the things a pastor quickly learns is that She has particular things she wants to teach or preach, but the Holy Spirit does a great job at reminding her that it’s God who is in control not her.
  • I get this reminder often. Which makes me think control freaks like myself God likes to remind who is in control. Not me. Most days I’m thankful to God for it, not always, but often. This happened last week in Adult Education class. The Holy Spirit decided to show up in Adult Ed through the people gathered there and I was reminded that God was the one leading us into a conversation that just spilled forth from our hearts in a beautiful and authentic way.
  • The lesson plan that I had organized for the day was not on the Holy Spirit’s agenda for our class.
  • I could fight the Holy Spirit for the control, you know me and how tempting that is for me, but usually doesn’t turn out the best.
  • God, through the beloved people in the Adult Ed, some of you here remember this, reminded me/us that there was something else that needed to be talked about last week.
  • And that something else that came authentically and unplanned was the topic of death.
  • It was a holy space as one of the members of the class asked us an important question
    • “Are you afraid to die?”
    • This is the type of question that if we had time and space we could break off into small groups delving into the vulnerable places in our life to explore that question for us.
    • It’s a good question to sit with and take with you as you think about faith this week
    • Are you afraid to die?
    • This type of questions comes from rich soil in our souls. So I laid down the lesson plan down and welcomed what God wanted to say through this question.
  • What followed was a beautiful and honest conversation about our relationship to death. We laughed. We paused in reverence for the things that are scary. And we talked with care about how we hope to die.
  • It was a truly very holy class and I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit choosing to lead us to this topic because it’s fitting for today’s theme of All Saints Sunday.

All Saints Sunday

  • Today the living saints, that’s each and everyone of us here, remember the saints who have died.
  • Today the veil between heaven and earth is thin.
  • Today we honor people who have gone through the process of death and we hold their memories and stories in our hearts and our worship.
  • The Scripture passage today is from Psalm 22 and in verse 25 there is delicate line that says “May your hearts live forever.”
  • Today we experience the endurance of the heart of the saints.
  • The church is a part of a community that is living and dead.
  • The book of Hebrews reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
  • We are caught up in the cloud of living and dead members who are bound together by the thread of the risen Christ who connects hearts across time.
  • Sometimes if you close your eyes and listen carefully enough you can hear the song of the heavenly chorus surrounding us here.

 

The church is deep

  • Last month I preached on World Wide Communion Sunday and I reminded us how the church is wide. We gather at the table with the global community of believers around the world.
  • If last month I wanted us to remember the church is wide, this month I want us to remember that the church is deep. Very deep. As Psalm 1 says we are like a great tree planted by a stream of living water. The church has deep roots that sink deep into the soil of years of saints who gathered like we do to wrestle with questions of life, death, and faith.
  • When we hold the bread of life and the cup of blessing in our hands today we hold the sacrament with Saint Paul, Saint Lydia, Saint Matthew, Saint Theresa, and the everyday saints that inspired our faith that brings us here today.
  • When we gather at the table friends and family who believed and doubted, and who are no longer physically here, in faith join us in this very moment.
  • The communion of saints is deep.
  • Today when we gather at the table we join the deep church and honor the saints who have come before us.
  • The church is years and years deep.
  • In the Psalm today it says that “from you comes my praise in the great congregation”
    • This great congregation is not just the congregation here at West End, though I do think you are all pretty great.
    • Great here comes from the Hebrew word “Rab” which means abundance and many.
    • Today our praise to God comes from the living and the dead, the great congregation is the communion of saints who have gone on before us. And we hear the Psalmist saying “May your hearts live forever.”
    • May the hearts of those who have died, those whom miss, live forever.
    • May the hearts of those we miss live in our stories, our songs, our Scripture, and in our very worship here.
    • The resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds us that death cannot stop the everlasting song of the saints.
    • Our song of love and life and our faith in Christ burst forth in our worship.

Heidelberg Q & A #54

  • In one of our sacred creeds, called the Heidelberg Catechism, it says that through Christ we are living members of the holy communion of saints throughout eternity. That God gathers, defends, and perseveres all of the saints throughout time. The church eternal means that we gather today at this table of bread and wine not just with the saints gathered physically in this room, but with the saints who run the race of faith who have now gone onto glory. We join grandparents whose laps we sat on as they taught us how to pray. We join our parents who first told us stories of God’s love in Christ. We join our siblings whose faith inspired ours. We join our friends who taught us how to hold faith and doubt in comfortable tension. We join spouses and partners who dialogued with us about what faith means. We join children whose breath was taken from them too soon. We join saints who fell short, who messed up, and the grace of God met them. We join imperfect people who God worked through. Imperfect people, like us. We join famous saints, and ones quietly forgotten. We join believers and wandering pilgrims. We join justice fighters and peace makers. We join the entire company of the forgiven in this great communion of the saints today and we find our place amongst the dead and the living. (Q & A 54)
  • Adult Ed part 2
    • Remember how last week someone in Adult Education asked “Are you afraid of dying?”
    • How would you answer that question?
    • Well here’s how I would answer that question. Honestly, I experience some anxiety when I think about dying. I’ve had a lot of people in my life die in very tragic ways. Death has been a topic that I like to reflect on and allow my faith to speak into. There are a lot of unknowns about death and it’s why faith is so important to me.
    • Faith does not grant me certainty but faith in Christ provides hope.
    • The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ tells us a story where the sting of death is not the last word.
    • And the hope of eternal love and communion with God is promised to us.
  • Today we have the opportunity to remember those who have inspired us in our journey of faith. We will join at the table and we will celebrate the feast of God with the church deep; the living and the dead saints.
  • After communion we will remind ourselves of the hope of our faith and honor the many dimensions of believers who join the great cloud of witnesses. There will be flowers available and we will assemble a bouquet symbolizing the great congregation of saints.

 

  • Today come to the table and experience the endurance of the heart of the great congregation of Christ. We proclaim the mystery of faith that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. In the sacred meal which we are about to eat we feast with our ancestors who join us in the hope of the mystery of our faith in the great deep church. May their faith inspire us to follow their examples to live our faith with justice, mercy, and kindness.

 

  • Let us pray.