A Responsive Call to Worship for All Saints Day
Pastor: We remember, O God: The countless saints of history who have blazed a trail of courage through time.
All: We remember, O God…
Pastor: The tender touch of loved ones, the example of heroes, the healing words of comforters, the remarkable acts of fearless ones.
All: We remember, O God…
Pastor: The gentle strength of grandmothers, the loyalty of friends, the kindness of strangers, the joy of children, the sacrifice of parents.
All: We remember, O God…
Pastor: The supreme love of Jesus, the blessing of his Spirit, the reminder of his words, the sharing of his suffering, the glory of his resurrection: shown forth in the lives of his disciples, young and old, dead and living, articulate and silent, strange and familiar, brilliant and ordinary.
All: We remember in every time and place the saints of God who have shown us the Lord.
let us worship God with joy! AMEN.
Sermon: We remember and we believe.
All Saints Sunday is a very special day in our church year. It is a day of remembrance here at the beginning of November. On this day, the church remembers.
It is a day of looking back. It is a day of the past. And yet in a profound way it is a day of hope and faith to – looking beyond this life, beyond the losses of our lives, beyond the grief and separation, beyond that door between this life and that life to be and to come. To look beyond our tears, mourning and crying – and looking to that time and that place where God will swallow up death forever and wipe away the tears from or eyes. Someday, somewhere, some day.
All Saints Sunday is filled with memories of the history of the church, of the brave men and women who gave their lives for their faith, of the ones that the church might call saints. All Saints invites us to recognize our connection as a church and as Christians to the saints of ancient times, such as St. Ignatius, St. Catherine, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and even the apostle of Christ. Not only are we connected with these past saints, but also living saints like Noble Peace Prize Winner Arch bishop Desmond Tutu. Yet there is another component of this day that we as Lutherans need to remember not to forget: that we, too, are saints. Wonderful, ordinary, unlikely saints – living saints.
Thus, All Saints Sunday is also filed with memories of the history of ours, of all the wonderful brave men and women who shared their lives with us, and whom we call our saints.
We might not call them saints, and we might not be comfortable using the term about them and us. After all, we consider saints to be perfect people or almost perfect people who have lived extortionary lives of unselfish servanthood marked by an unwavering faithful faith. When we think of saints, we typically think of people, like Mother Theresa, who achieved extraordinary miraculous things.
But as Lutherans we need to remember today that Sainthood is give not us all through baptism. The priesthood of all believers. So, saints are people like you and me. Ordinary people.
Certainly, Sainthood is evident in grand gestures and achievements. But sainthood is also present in everyday, ordinary people and actions. There are saints here in the pews today. There are saints who make sure our pews are clean and the bulletin a folded. There are saints who greet worshippers. There are saints who sing and play with us. There are saints who make sure the light bulbs get changes and the batteries in smoke alarm gets replaced. There are saints who recycle, cleans and cares: saints who send flowers to gravening families, saints who prepare and serve lunch and saints who give warm hugs and smiles every Sunday.
Martin Luther tells us these saints are the church: ordinary people who are called by Jesus to live out their calling today. Living Saints, and we are connected in eternity to past, present and future saints. We do stand or sit in a long line of faithful good people – a long row of saints.
We all have our saints, that we remember today.
We all have our tears to be wiped away.
And we all hope that God will swallow up death forever and wipe away the tears from our eyes.
So, did Mary and Martha. The sisters of Lazarus. Lazarus and his sisters were good friends of Jesus. They were ordinary good people. They had spent many times at the table, eating, talking and sharing moments of joy, faith and love. And now the gospel According to John tells us about the grief, the tears, the anger that moved the two sisters when their beloved brother, their saint, died. And Jesus was not there.
Mary cried out the human cry of despair: “If only you had been here…. If only you had been here… my brother would not have died. “
If only. How we know these words.
· She had not smoked
· He had not been driving so fast
· They hadn’t gone
· He has listened
· She had listened
· They had listened
· God had listened
· God had been there
· God did exist
· I had more faith
· I had not failed
· I had known
We know our “if only” We know our bargaining with fate and destiny, with God and faith. We pray that Jesus would come back to us and our graves, and call out the words: “Come out, unbind them and let them go. Let them live, let them live….”
Our “if only” does not bring us peace or hope. Our “if only” only make us grieve more, cry more, carry more guilt or shame. “If only” ties us to yesterday and the loss, whereas Jesus calls us to be in the moment and in the hope. Jesus wants us to look up and to remember. To remember how our Lazarus was. How our saints were in our lives and still are if we let them.
I just read this very beautiful moving little book called “The Reminders” A book by Val Emmich that describes the life changing meeting between a 10-year-old girl, who can’t forget anything and a desperate grieving man who is desperate to remember. Gavin Winters is grief-stricken over his partner’s sudden death and he literally sets fire to very physical reminder in the couple’s home. And hoping to find peace, he flees from Los Angeles to good friend in New jersey. And he finds Joan. The family’s ten-year-old daughter who was born with the rare ability to recall every day of her life in cinematic details. In seconds she can tell you how many times her mother has uttered the phrase” it never fails” in the last 6 months or what she was wearing when her grandfather took her fishing on a Sunday in June years ago. Her diagnose is Highly Superior Autobiographical memory. HSAM. Joan has not met Gavin before, but she did meet his partner Sydney and has more than half a dozen of startlingly vivid memories to share. As Gavin is grieving and longing for answers, he can not resist. And they strike a deal: in exchange for sharing all her memories of his late partner, Gavin commits to help Joan to win a local songwriter contest with a song, she is convinced could make her unforgettable. As her biggest fear is to be forgotten……. The unknown unexpected memories send Gavin back into life again and find the cause of his own future. And the process of writing that big hit ( all great music either makes you want to cry or want to dance, she cleverly states) the girl Joan who is trapped in her many memories and in her fear of being forgotten, - realizes that life is in all of these unforgettable moments, but not just as memories but as the present moment of joy and love. Too often those moments are forgotten or taken for granted.
“The reminders” is a fine book about relationship, grief, loss, love and hope. It is about all these ordinary people who makes our lives worth living, who makes a difference, who calls us into life and into faith.
“See, I am making all things new. Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true. I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.”
That is what we believe in and hope for. That God will make everything new. That he was the beginning and will be the end. From light to light. That we will swallow up death forever, darkness and despair too; that he will wipe away all our tears and mourning and crying and pain will be no more….
Someday, somewhere and somehow.
Today we remember in order not to forget.
We remember the Saints of History and church.
We remember our saints of family and relationship.
We remember all that was with gratitude and love.
We believe in all that will be with hope. AMEN