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    Nov 05, 2017

    All Saints Day /Proper 26A

    Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

    Series: Rector

    Category: Weekly Sermon


    November 1st is a major feast day of the Church called All Saints Day and we celebrated it this past Wednesday.  Because it is a major feast day of the Church, it is also appropriate to acknowledge this day on the weekend immediately following – today. It is a time when we look back – to those who have gone before us.  We especially remember those of our own congregation who died in our parish since last All Saints Day…… Thomas Bowman, Irene Cleary, Catherine Harle, Joseph Heid, Jack Hess, Frank Humiston, Karen Jowett, Lillian Kraus, Joan Kretchman, Jane LaDuke, Marlene McCray, Doris Merizio, Betty Papp, Katherine Ross, Evelyn Schmidt, Alfie Sonnenfeld, Dominic Strada, Tony Trause, Arlene Wilson.

    Who else do you remember today?  I invite you to remember them by name either silently or aloud. (pause) We worship today amid a great fluttering of wings, with the whole host of heaven crowding the air above our heads.  All the saints are with us – every one of them, including the newest ones who joined the chorus this past year.  You remember how as babies are baptized, they sometimes look to the ceiling in amazement and wonder.  They seem to have eyes that can see the fluttering, and the glittering, and the celebrating of the whole host of heaven.  All those who have gone before, are a part of our Christian heritage.  And I don’t doubt that they are here celebrating with us right now, and every time we worship.

    When we do baptisms, my favorite part is when the sign of the cross is put on the forehead and I say, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.”  At that moment, a saint is created.  Each one of us is baptized into being a saint, and claimed as Christ’s own.

    Today/tomorrow 5 children will be baptized: Quinn, Patrick, Allison, Nelson, and Tyler. Baptized into God’s family; into our family.  Each one of us is made a saint on the day of our Baptism, and we spend the rest of our lives living out our sainthood.  The actual day of our Baptism is sort of equivalent to getting a driver’s license*.  With your license, you get a document that says you’re allowed to drive a car. But that doesn’t make you a driver.  You have to practice and go do it.  Likewise, baptism gives you the mark on your forehead that says you’re a Christian, a saint.  From that moment on, you have to practice and go do it.  Our job is to figure out what to do. 

    The Bible is our best resource.  Jesus himself gives us the standard.  For example, in our Gospel today, we are hearing some pretty tough words from Jesus.  He is criticizing the Pharisees, and as usual, there is a lesson in this reading for us.  Jesus warns the listeners that their leaders do not always practice what they preach.  Instead they want honor and special recognition, and to have others wait on them.  This is applied to us too as we are warned:  “Do not think of yourself above other people.  Practice what you preach and do not expect others to follow rules you do not apply to yourself.”  This entire Gospel is a lesson in humility and caring for others.  Jesus says, those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    There is another place we can get some direction about how to be a saint.  In addition to the Bible, we can look to other Christians – both those who have gone before us, and those living in our midst right now.  Think of people (living or dead) who have had Jesus Christ as the center of their life, who exhibit saintly qualities…. like peace, mercy, love, joy.  Think of people who have given generously of their time and talents and treasure, so that God’s kingdom can be spread on earth.  These people are models for you. They give you a living picture of how to act like a saint, so you can go and do likewise; so you can practice being like Jesus.

    You may not think you are a saint…. but know that each of us is called every day to work towards being just that.  Follow the example of Jesus.  Follow the examples of the saintly people God has put before you.  And then allow God to work through you, to form you into a saint for God.  I pray for you a most blessed and glorious All Saints Day.


    * An example used by Nicky Gumble in the Alpha Course