Sermon of the Week
A Kirk with Purpose: Experience God’s Love
Keywords: Day of the Dead, Everyday Saints, Unity in Christ, Election 2018, Christmas Eve Follies, Starbucks Christmas Blend, Purpose Statement.
All Saints Day, in our tradition, falls on the first day of November.
Some see that as the day after Halloween.
If this time of year is best captured in your mind’s eye
By the mental image of a fun-sized Hershey bar,
that might be how you see it.
And I don’t judge you. I get it.
Yummy yummy chocolate.
Some cultures observe this time as Diá De Los Muertos, the day of the dead
Where ancestors from the past are fondly remembered.
I spent a Day of the Dead in one such culture, back in 2010,
and was amazed, walking through a Guatemalan cemetery
that was just packed with people,
flying kites and enjoying picnics
decorating the tombs of their ancestors with flowers.
Still others, those who actually set specific people apart
and call them saints, or holy ones,
through a process called canonization.
They look to All Saints Day as a time to lift those saints up.
They save the day after that, the second of November
For All Souls Day, the day they lift up everyone else,
family members and loved ones who aren’t with us any more.
For us, All Saints Day kind of has elements of all of all of these,
A day of remembrance for faithful departed,
but also a celebration of the holy people all around us.
The idea of Saints, for us, is a broad term:
the glimmer of holiness that we see in others
because of the love and the grace,
the fire for justice and the inspiration for reconciliation that God plants in them.
We are all saints, just as we are all sinners.
Life is messy,
and we work on ways for the holiness of God to work through us, even so,
through choosing the good
insisting on the right,
taking the more loving way.
We misuse this term if we insist on perfection in our saints, it seems to me.
There are no perfect people.
And we don’t insist that the saints in our lives perform three miracles,
just that, through them, we see the gracious and wonderful works of our God,
people in whom we catch a glimpse
of that more perfect world
God intends for all of us.
This First Sunday in November feels like a day
where we are turning the page and starting a new chapter.
Maybe its because it’s a new month
and the leaves are finally starting to fall
and we know winter is coming.
We set the clocks back an hour last night.
and they have all the Christmas goodies up on the shelves at Target already.
Starbucks is now selling Christmas Blend.
On November 1st. Two months early. Can you believe it?
Maybe that’s it.
Maybe its because it is All Saints Sunday
and every year, when we remember those people who formed us in the faith
and who showed us the way to love,
we’re reminded that those things always drive us forward to a new day,
that the saints equip us to live in this world of ours
with eyes of faith, hearts for service, hands and feet to do God’s work.
Maybe it is because many of us are experiencing bated breath
waiting for Tuesday finally come and go:
A big election for our nation, not to mention for Kansas and for Missouri.
Who will our leaders be? What constitutional changes will be made?
Will we wake up Wednesday more hopeful, or more jaded?
More willing to engage our neighbors, even those with whom we disagree,
or less so?
A time of community healing, of justice,
or a time of further division and tribalization?
Or maybe it is because November always evokes for us thoughts of Thanksgiving
rooted, even for us city folk, in the time of harvest on the farm,
gathering in all the grain and the produce that the earth has provided,
giving God proper awe and amazement for such bountiful provision
so that we can’t help but exclaim “thank you!”
It’s probably all of the above,
and maybe some other things that are stirring your spirits this Sunday Morning.
Every year, about this time,
we also turn to thoughts of community:
what brings us together in the church.
Why are we here. What is our purpose?
I was talking this week with a friend of mine
who was the pastor of a Presbyterian church for 13 years,
before he left that work
to go run an organization
that helps the church be more inclusive and more welcoming. [Read more…]