For All the Saints
November 4, 2012The little church we attended this morning is our summer church. We have attended on Sundays we were away from home for a lot of years, enough so that we know people and they remember us. This morning we sat among three Lindas, two Lees, Addie was there with prayers for her granddaughter, and Flo, the treasurer who is one of eight in the choir. The choir opened with, "Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place." We are certain the Spirit was. The opening hymn was glorious, almost the reason we went. "For All the Saints Who From their Labors Rest..." No matter where we are when we hear and sing this song is is a choir and chorus of robust singers singing with confidence of faith that no matter what is going on outside, inside this place, we rest assured. The voices at Christ Church, Philadelphia, or Duke Chapel, or St. John the Divine, could hardly have sounded fuller in my head and in my heart than did this small congregation with whom we joined our voices. The preacher who serves this little church has been serving there for a long time. She has seen generations move to the coast, grow old and have to return to their families up north. The church is filled with widows and campers, and lots of us who find this to be a place of welcome and home. Around the Communion table, when the preacher served us she said more than the proscribed words, "I didn't see you come in. Glad you're here." So were we. The message of the day, as always, is a call to remembrance and thanksgiving for all those who have impacted our lives and given witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. The preacher called us to a few moments of reflection and naming those who have influenced us in our journey of faith. Who are the saints in your life? Who has molded you and shaped the who you are? My list is long... Grandmothers and parents, Sunday School Teachers and United Methodist Women. I have been blessed with people who have surrounded me with love and forgiveness. Surely they are saints. What a good plan God created that the elders and the wise ones would share their faith and learnings with the young. And when the young grow old, the cycle begins again. The closing hymn today spoke to that call in each of our lives. "I sing a song of the saints of light, faithful and brave and true..." So begins the first verse. And every verse ends with the hope, "I want to be one too." I remember the first time I ever sang this hymn. Seemed like a tall order that God would shape a saint out of my little life. But then, God is God, so perhaps for each of us, there is that hope. I don't think we do what we do in our faith to make it to the top of someone's saint list. But if that happens, surely it is pleasing to God that we have done well that which we are given, that which we are created to do. As night falls on All Saint's Day 2012, may you remember all those who have surrounded you with encouragement and love, shaping your faith and calling you to be something good for God. Give thanks for each one and sing the words with hope, "I want to be one too." Amen. Almighty God, Thank you for the gift of the great Cloud of Witnesses who have taught us what it means to be faithful and loving and kind. Thank you for the saints who continue to give witness of your great love around us. May we all take up the mantle of witness and offer to the hurting world around, a word of hope and peace. Give us strength to go the distance of faith with great assurance that we are on the path you have called us into, that one day we too may be counted among your saints. Amen.