The Feast of All Saints, Nov 1, 2015 Audio
The Feast of All Saints is a celebration of family, a household celebration, and a celebration of all our relations. It is about the cloud of witnesses, Lazarus and Martha and Mary and the witnesses that stood at Lazarus' tomb and watched Lazarus come out, and those in the stories we have been reading for weeks now, the witnesses whose names we spoke aloud in this morning's litany, and the witnesses that sit right here beside us in these pews. And it is about the reality that none of us gets out of this life alive, at least by the world's definition.
Oh Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, stand here beside us. Oh Martha and Mary whose grief was complete, stand here beside us. Oh people who stood at the tomb, stand here beside us. Stand here beside us and show us the way. Stand here beside us and witness to the freedom from bondage that Jesus offers. Stand here beside us and shout before the whole world, Love wins. O cloud of witnesses teach us what it means to be a disciple, show us how to follow the way.
Lazarus came out of the tomb bound with strips of cloth. Following Jesus is about throwing off that which binds us. Following Jesus is casting away that which is killing us. Following Jesus is being freed to live the new life Jesus' life, death, and resurrection affect for us. Oh Lazarus, stand here beside us and show us what it is that binds us. Show us what it is that is killing us.
What is it that binds you? What holds you hostage and keeps you from the new life that Jesus promises you today? For most of us what holds us hostage is fear. What does that look like for you?
The pursuit of bigger and better, the pursuit of the big house, the fancy car, so much stuff, the fear of not having enough, gets in the way of real relationship with God and with others. Lay it down. Perfection, expecting ourselves to be perfect, expecting others to be perfect, just one of many idols that we erect between ourselves and God. Lay it down. Control, what an illusion. Lay it down. Immortality, none of us gets out of this life alive. Lay it down.
Lazarus, stand here beside us, show us the way. Martha and Mary, stand here beside us. Their brother has been dead and in the tomb for four days. The grief washes over them in waves of misery. There must be someone to blame, there has to be someone to blame. Jesus, if only you had been here earlier, none of this would have happened. Martha and Mary, stand here beside us and show us the way to faith, the kind of faith that lets Jesus in, even in misery and grief. The kind of faith that does not build walls, but instead builds relationships. The kind of faith that lays down sorrow and grief so that the new growth, new life may emerge. Martha and Mary, stand here beside us.
Oh unnamed widow, who gave every penny, stand here beside us. Stand here beside us and show us how to respond to God's amazing and abundant love with all that we are, with all that we have, even when we think we have so little. Oh unnamed widow, who gave out of her poverty, show us our poverty. Is time our poverty? We have so little time, not enough time to do all we wish to do. Not enough time to spend it with those we love. Not enough time to travel. Not enough time to volunteer. Not enough time. Is mercy and compassion our poverty? We are quick to judge. We are quick to seek revenge. We are quick to explain our rightness. Is forgiving our poverty? We are slow to forgive when we believe we have been wronged. We will not forgive when we believe we are right. Oh unnamed widow, stand here beside us, and show us our poverty. Show us that all belongs to God, all that we are, all that we have, the earth we walk upon, the sky that is above our heads. Show us how to be stewards, those who care for all that has been entrusted to us, show us how to give.
Oh blind Bartimaeus, stand here beside us. Show us what we cannot see. Show us that which blinds us. Who do you work with, whom you do not really see? Who sits at your lunch table, whom you do not really see? What words and actions of others cause you to close your eyes to seeing those with whom you disagree?
Oh, James and John, stand here beside us. Show us how the first will be last and the last will be first.
Oh witnesses that have gone before us, stand here beside us and show us the path. There are so many in our lives who are examples of giving. Our mothers, our daughters, our sisters. There are so many in our lives who are examples of loving no matter what. Our fathers, our sons, our brothers. There are so many in our lives who were broken and put back together by God's love, Jesus' gift. There are so many in our lives who believe in us, who teach us to believe in ourselves, and who show us God's love. Our teachers, our preachers, our coaches, our friends. There are so many in our lives who show mercy and compassion, who show us that Love wins. Oh witnesses, stand here beside us.
Household of Trinity, stand here beside us. Hold each other in our grief. Cheer for each other in our joy. Help each other when we fall. Teach each other about ourselves. Encourage each other in our compassion. Pray for each other when we cannot pray ourselves. Tell the truth to each other when the truth seems hard. Be the light and the life and the love that shows that Love wins.
All the saints of God, stand here beside us.