All Saints and Baptism Yr C Nov 6 2016 Audio
Today, as we began our worship, we named those who have walked this path before us, and when we baptize Emma and Eddy we look toward those who will walk this path after we have gone. All Saints is a time when all time comes together in a single moment and we may enter the mystery of Christ particularly as a communion and a community of people who hold hands across time to witness to the ministry God calls us to.
All Saints is our day to find ourselves in the community that attests to the love that wins. It is not to find ourselves wanting because we aren't good enough or perfect enough. All Saints is our day to experience the awesomeness of those who walked this path before us, and to count ourselves as part of that great cloud of witnesses. It is an opportunity to call on this cloud of witnesses, Abraham and Aquinas, Madeleine and Marion, Perpetua and Felicity, Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero, as people who show us the way of fearless love, mercy, and compassion.
Grandmothers and Grandfathers, ancestors and forebears, the entire cloud of witnesses, stand here beside us.
On this day of all saints, we call upon all of those who have taken this journey before us, to stand here with us as we are witnesses today to the love of our creator God, to the life and love and work of Jesus, and the enlivening presence of the Spirit.
Stand here beside us, as we struggle to follow Jesus.
Stand here beside us, as we grieve for our mothers and fathers and our loved ones who have died.
Stand here beside us, as we endeavor to find our identity as the ones who are marked as God's own forever.
Stand here beside us, as we continue to hope and find encouragement in the face of loss and discouragement.
Stand here beside us, as we courageously invite those we love into a relationship with one another and with Jesus.
Stand here beside us, as we strive to be a blessing in the lives of all we encounter.
Stand here beside us, as we wonder about what blessing is even all about.
Grandmothers and Grandfathers, ancestors and forebears,
stand here beside us, we remember your fidelity, your strength, your courage, as we ask our creator God for the same.
On this day of all saints, we will reaffirm our baptismal promises. We remember who and whose we are, we recall our identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. We vow to live our lives from that center, from that identity. On this day of all saints, we remember, we reaffirm, and we renew our courage and bravery to be witnesses to God's amazing and abundant love.
We remember our grief and our losses, whatever they may be. We remember the people we love and see no more. We remember the grief and loss of slowly losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s or dementia. We acknowledge the struggles with illness of body and mind. We remember the loss of employment or dignity. We remember the disappointment at home or work or school, of dreams deferred or hopes dashed. Loss comes at us from so many sources.
In Ephesians we hear words of encouragement, God's power at work in Christ, power that brings life from death. These words are so full of hop and comfort to us today, as they were to the followers in Jesus time, followers who were struggling with enormous loss of identity and the threat of losing their independence and even their lives. Saints are not only those who are robed in white or gathered into the church triumphant but also each of us, as we too have come, or perhaps are still coming, through ordeals great and small. To all of us who are struggling to find hope or healing, we can hope for a future, not defined by our past.
We reaffirm our identity as God's beloved, sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever. God continually claims us as children and Jesus speaks of blessings. Jesus blesses all kinds of people but especially the kinds of people who aren’t normally blessed – the poor, the those who are hungry, those who weep. The world typically gives these folk little regard, just as few notice many of our silent losses and grief, and yet Jesus calls them blessed. Jesus doesn’t say, “one day you will be blessed,” but “blessed are…,” even now, even here. Why? Because blessing isn’t like the flu shot. Blessing doesn’t immunize you from pain or loss, and it’s not a guarantee of safe passage through this life unscathed. Rather, it’s a sense of fullness, of contentment, of joy that is like, but also transcends, ordinary happiness. It is not something you have and others are lacking. And like love and hope and so many other things, it can’t simply be mustered into existence but rather is responsive, springing forth in response to the love and promises of another, and of God.
As we reaffirm our identity as God's beloved, we are renewed for the journey. This community of faithful saints, along with the cloud of witnesses, the saints who have gone before us, we are renewed by hope and blessing for the journey we take together. We call upon each other and God to stand here beside us as we follow Jesus into the world to do the work that we are called to do, and that work is to be agents of God's healing and reconciliation.
We are already, bearers of Jesus' light and love, Jesus' blessing. And it is our own pain and loss, our own grief and sadness, our own joy and blessing, our own forgiveness and healing that enables and equips us for this work. You have been broken by loss and life, you have been filled by bread and wine, body and blood, you have been loved by God and by this community of faith. You are renewed for this brave and courageous work
of being God's beloved. You are renewed for this radical endeavor of following Jesus into the world to feed, and clothe, and love.
We will stand together, with the saints who have gone before us, and the saints who are here with us, our newest saints, Eddy and Emma, and the saints who will carry on after us, to receive Eddy and Emma into Christ's love, and to renew your baptismal vows.
This cloud of witnesses that stand with us this day, show us how to live without fear, and die with love. They show us how to love ourselves, and to love others. They show us that love has the final word. Today we baptize Emma and Eddy into this community of saints, this cloud of witnesses, this collection of people who will love them and raise them up as the children of God that they are. Today, Emma and Eddy are marked as God's own. Amen.