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Sermon for All Saint's Day
Year C
"Thank God for Saints"
Ephesians 1:11-23
"Blessing and Being Blessed"
Luke 6:20-31
"When Things Go Bump"
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
"Holy Gifts for Holy People"
Luke 6:20-23
Ephesians 1:13-23


"Thank God for Saints"

Ephesians 1:11-23

"If the church was meant to be perfect, God wouldn't have included people." That's what my dad always said. But God did include people. In fact God made people essential to what the church is. Don't we tell ourselves that the church is not the building, it's the people?

I am sure Paul knew that the church in Ephesus was not perfect. Yet our lesson from Ephesians thanks God for these saints. Paul says, "I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your love for all the saints." And based on this report he thanks God for them and prays for them. He also prays that they would come to know God better. He prays that they might be enlightened.

Maybe that is why the early church invented All Saints Day. To give us an opportunity to remember those shining examples whose lives embodied Christ. To recall the lives of saints and martyrs who lived that love and grace and hope of Christ. And to be inspired by that remembrance. Inspired to be living embodiments of the love and grace of Christ.

Then thank God. Like Paul, thank God for those whose faith in Christ has inspired you. Thank God for their love. Thank God for their faith. Thank God for their example.

Then ask yourself: How can I seek to embody the hope and grace and love of God in Christ as these saints did? "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Paul, earlier in this chapter, says that Jesus Christ called us "before the creation of the world."(vs. 4) Paul believed that Jesus was there at creation. That Jesus was the incarnation; the manifestation of the Almighty God in human form. So when he writes of Jesus as the one "who fills everything in every way" he is referring to the eternal omnipresence of God in Christ. Jesus was there at creation making the world, and Jesus is a part of the Spirit's ongoing recreation of the world.


"Blessing and Being Blessed"

Luke 6:20-31

Jesus was talking to his disciples. This passage sounds a lot like a similar passage in Matthew known as the beatitudes. But this one is different. In this one Jesus says "Blessed are you who are poor." In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." But here in Luke it is not "The poor" it is "you poor." Jesus is talking directly to his disciples. And it is not "poor in spirit" meaning humble, but just "poor" meaning not having much money. Jesus was telling those disciples who were poor that God would bless them, but how? They would receive the Kingdom of God.

You are blessed. You see God blesses those who need to be blessed. God blesses the disadvantaged and distraught and hungry with what they need. The rich and full and cheerful don't seem to need a blessing. I guess it all comes down to whether you need to be blessed. Do you need to be blessed?

We are blessed. But being blessed can be hard; in fact it can be downright difficult. Jesus followed up this news of blessing with a list of difficult commands. Again he is speaking to his disciples: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."


"When Things Go Bump"

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Have you ever been waken by a nightmare? Or perhaps by something that went bump in the night. We have all felt that fear before. Sometimes the feeling passes as fast as the dream is forgotten or as we realize that it was just the wind. But sometimes we lie there in the dark and the fear won't go away. Perhaps if we go back to sleep too fast the nightmare will start again or perhaps the sound was an intruder and not just the wind.

The Bible tells us that Daniel had a scary dream. And the dream disturbed him. Daniel lived in a time when God's people were in captivity. Jerusalem had been conquered and the Israelites had been carried off to Babylon. Daniel was among these exiles and he lived and worked in the palace of the king.

Daniel says that these visions troubled him and terrified him. He didn't understand what they meant. So he asked one of the attendants in this courtroom what all this meant. He was told that the four beasts represent four kingdoms.

It is no wonder that Daniel was troubled by his vision. I am sure that many of his fellow Israelites were troubled too. What would become of them. Would the Babylonians or any of the other great empires of the ancient world destroy them? Would God's people cease to exist? Would their faith and way of life die out?


"Holy Gifts for Holy People"
Luke 6:20-23
Ephesians 1:13-23

Holy Gifts for Holy People! In the Methodist Church we don't usually talk much about communion. We think it's important because Jesus said to do it in remembrance of him. But we don't take much time to talk about it. We just do it. One of the reasons we don't talk about it is that Christians have different ideas about what is actually going on when we say that the bread and the juice are the body and blood of Christ. And we don't want to get bogged down in theological questions; we just want to enjoy remembering Jesus and his disciples. We want to enjoy the experience.

God is in the business of taking ordinary thing and turning them into holy things. God takes ordinary things like bread, wine, nails, boards, and stables and turns them into something holy. Likewise, God takes ordinary people and turns them into holy people. Last Thursday was All Saints Day. All Saints Day is the day when we remember and celebrate the contributions of the saints, or holy people. People like Peter and Paul the apostles. Or Ruth and Deborah in the Old Testament. Or John, Charles, and Susannah Wesley. Consider for a moment Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was an ordinary girl. She may have been only 13 or 14. Her family was not powerful or rich. She was promised to a carpenter, not to a king or leader.

God takes ordinary people and makes them holy by speaking a word to them and setting them aside for a holy purpose. That is what God has done to us; made us holy people, saints. We're ordinary people. We're not kings or billionaires or world leaders. We're just normal people.

Holy Gifts for Holy People. Sainthood is not only for people who lived in Bible times. It's not only for those who have gone on to glory. Sainthood is available to all. When we give our lives to Christ, he comes and lives in our hearts. And he gives us the power of God like the power that was demonstrated at his resurrection.