10.30.2010

All Saints Day, Year C

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18 and Psalm 149 •
Ephesians 1:11-23 •
Luke 6:20-31


All Saints Day is an important one to us in the Christian year.

As we get older and experience more life and have more people who are
important to us die, this day becomes more and more significant.

There are certainly historical underpinnings found in many
denominations of the Christian church. And, while those are important,
they are not as important as the opportunity for personal reflection
it provides.

Unfortunately, as Christians, we don't get a good religious holiday
that sort of orders us to reflect on our year. Our Jewish friends have
the High Holy Days that encourage believers to think through their
last 12 months and remember positive things and repent of negative
things. This is an important practice for us humans.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for people to reflect on
their lives. Many do it at / around the New Year, many Covey fans do a
day in review., etc. But there seems to be something important about
doing this review of your life and the ways the important people in it
have influenced you within the frame of a person's spiritual life.

It helps each of us pay attention to where we fit in to the world.
When we remember those we love who have died, we are doing a lot.

We remind ourselves of the fragility of these bodies.
We remember the depths of love.
We remember the ups and downs of relationships.
We remember that love and money can sustain life, but they cannot prevent death.
We find ourselves thinking about how we might fit in to the Big Picture.
We are forced to ask what we really believe about what happens after
our last breath.

All Saints Day really is an important day. If we are willing to engage
in the process of remembering who we have been with and what we can
learn from them, it can be an important day for us.

Have I done enough?
Have I done the right things?
Am I following the right path?
Do I stand on the right side?
How much time do I have left?

All Saints Day provides a chance for some weighty and beneficial
reflective time.

On the average day, questions of Significance and Life and Death are
never too far from the surface.

We believe every story and statement of scripture engages its reader
around these same sorts of questions.

For example this week, we see the prophet Daniel struggling with
visions of life and death for his people and the land he knew. He was
put in a position to offer prophecy against all of the current
inhabiters of the land - all of the controlling kingdoms of the
time....if that does not make you examine your own mortality, nothing
will. His vision foretells the fall of four powers and the rise of s
single power...a single way of life.

Psalm 149 is singing praises to God for a few different stated
reasons, but the underlying one is that The Lord has kept the writer
and his people alive and has punished or killed those who might want
to oppress them. The culture at this time was marked by two ways -
good and bad, right and wrong, allies and enemies, life and death.
There were no shades of gray. The souls of the enemy were not of
great concern.

In the greeting from a letter to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus,
Paul is encouraging his readers to remember that the life and death of
Jesus and the ways they are following / serving God all have bearing
on each individual's possibilities after death.

In the passage from the gospel of Luke we see Jesus teaching the
disciples. He is offering a series of Blessings and Woes.....and the
Blessings and Woes seem to be instructing folks that their actions
today matter and have repercussions. He is encouraging them to think
about the lasting significance of who they are and what they are
doing. He also encourages them to bless those that may hurt them,
that may curse them, that may repress them - to love their enemy as
well as their neighbor, not in the future but right now. Jesus is
encouraging them to live with some shades of gray.

It is fitting that, as the leaves turn from green to red to yellow to
brown and then fall, leaving branches bare, that we consider the
departure of breath...of life as we know it right now. It is a
fitting time to think about the Saints, all the saints, and the ways
that their lives made a difference.

Gracious and mysterious God,
I want to pay attention.
I want to remember.
I want to love and be loved
even when it seems unlikely.
Amen.

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