Sermon – November 2, 2014 All Saint’s

All Saints 2014

Do you ever have one of those days where you wish you could close your eyes and when you open them, everything would be changed?  I’m not talking about life being miserable, hating everything around you.  Not that kind of change.  I would like to close my eyes and when I opened them, the question of salvation would be settled.  that God would never be used as a club.  That we would have this estrangement with and fear of God undone.   That no one would be left out, that everyone would find a path to forgiveness.  That everyone would realize the grace of God that is ours in Christ.

I would like to wake up some morning and not have to judge the actions or apologize for the existence of anyone.  I would like to open my eyes to see that justice is done to those who have been denied justice.  I would like to open my eyes to peace, where we stop tearing each other apart and doing it in the name of God.

I would like to see a world where we lead with mercy, and where everyone experiences hope.  I would like to live in a world where there is food for the hungry and clean water for the thirsty, where children can go to bed in safety and when they are sick, they can be cared for whether they have money or not.   I would like to live in a world fear gives way to hope and joy.

What about you? What do you want to see in the world?  What do you want to see? What would you like to see changed in the world?

I know that this is something of a fantastical, naïve notion, but we are all dreamers, aren’t we?  Don’t we all dream for the world to come, for things to be better?

What if this isn’t so crazy?  What if it isn’t naïve to long for a world of hope and peace and mercy and love?   What if God is bigger than we give God credit for?  Maybe God really means what God says?  That would be different.  It would change our whole perspective.

The voice of God in Scripture is sometimes called the performative word, meaning that which God declares becomes reality.  “Let there be light, and there was light.”   “Your sins are forgiven.”  “No on will snatch you from my hand.”  “As far as the east is from the west, so far does God remove our sins from us.”  “I will be your God and you will be my people.”  “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

The yearning of us dreamers might very well be of the reflection of the desire of God in the midst of God’s kingdom.  Maybe when the Dreamer Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he meant they have found favor in God’s eyes and they will not be forgotten. . .  Maybe when Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn”. . .  maybe he means God’s heart aches for those who ache. . .  who do not experience joy,  . .  that he knows and remembers  . . . Maybe when Jesus said “Blessed are the meek, the humiliated, the powerless he means that God remembers them and they will receive that which has been theirs all along.   Maybe when he said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, maybe he meant blessed are the dreamers and the imaginers who see injustice and pain. . . .  they will see the hand of God at work.

Maybe Jesus is saying God can see you and I have not forgotten.  So, blessed are the merciful who practice this divine quality on the neighbors, on the hurting, on the terrified. Blessed are the pure in heart. . .  those who say what they mean, and act with integrity.. .  . blessed are the peacemakers  who establish Shalom and justice, the one whom the light shines through.   Maybe God really means what he said, that one would come through whom peace and righteousness would be rekindled, aflame in the world. . .  maybe this is what Jesus proclaimed when he said the kingdom of God is at hand.

Of course it is.   That was the theme, the purpose of his coming. . .  to usher in this kingdom of hope and mercy, forgiveness and love. .. .  and now in the presence of the risen Christ, that kingdom is unfolding.   All these thing are possible.
We have come to this place out of our yearning for our own healing and encouragement and forgiveness.  The gift is here and some part of us recognizes it and it has called us here so that the kingdom would be alive and apparent in us and we in the kingdom.  Today we come to remember that Jesus is a dreamer who begets dreamers.  Today we remember that we do not dream alone.  That we do not yearn in a vacuum. That we are not the first to recognize the hurts of the world and the possibilities over against them, or the aching in our own hearts and the possibility of Christ answering that yearning.

Today we remember those who helped shepherd us to such a place.  The saints.  Those whose lives practiced kingdom values.  Who revealed in their faithfulness and convictions a present, loving God.  Those who took us by the hand and led us down this path and led us to this fellowship, this font, who brought us with them to this table of hope, forgiveness and mercy.  Who helped us experience the kingdom now, even as we await with eagerness the kingdom to come.

And today we remember that God makes real these very things we yearn for by working through his body, his people, his blessed ones, his called and chosen so mercy and hope could be revealed for the sake of another, who works through our families and our spouses and our pastors and friends and strangers alike to reassure us daily of his love and grace and to reflect that grace in the world.

Today we remember those whom the light shines through.  I know that I shared the story of the little girl sitting in church with her mother on All Saints Sunday, and asked, “Mom, what’s a saint?”  The answer came to her mother as she looked up and saw the sun streaming through the church’s stationed glass window.  “Honey,” she said.  “The saints are the ones the light shines through.”

Even more accurately, I think, .  . the saints are the ones the Spirit works through because to unveil the kingdom, to reveal the heart of God, to bring us into the outstretching arms of Jesus, the Spirit of God needs to be afoot, empowering, leading, inspiring, teaching, fulfilling.

Today we recognize only the ones the light shines through, where we caught glimpses of God’s word and grace, but the ones who were empowered by the Spirit to live out of that faith and grace.  Today we remember those whom the Spirit works through.

And if it is God’s hand in the midst of our yearning, then our longing for mercy and hope and healing, for reconciliation and peace for ourselves and for the world is not naïve and foolish, but a recognition of the power of God’s love and purpose in the world.

Remembering the saints today is nothing other than a way of affirming that the transformative power of Christ is at work all about us in human lives that the kingdom is afoot…That what God declares is possible, in fact is real.
The kingdom of God is truly at hand. . . . and it is answering the prayers, the hopes, the yearning of the dreamers.  Mercy and truth, grace and forgiveness, reconciliation and new life are all around us.  It is so because God has declared it.
Nope friends, turns out God means what God says.  Blessed is this broken world . . .   blessed are that saints the declare God’s love and purpose in the face if this brokenness. . . . and blessed are you through whom this light now shines, and through whom this Spirit now reveals God’s love.