Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18, Psalm 149, Ephesians 1:11-23, Luke 6:21-31
Today is All Saints’ Sunday and Consecration Sunday. It is the day we remember and celebrate the people we love, but see no longer. The people whose lives touched ours, the people who helped us become the people we are today. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus suggests we have inherited salvation through Christ. On All Saints’ Sunday we acknowledge that we have, in part, inherited our faith from the ones we are remembering.
Our faith has brought us here today and we give to St. Paul’s because this church has been entrusted to us and we give to St. Paul’s in thanksgiving for all the gifts we have received from God. So today, we will pray that the pledges we are making will be used the glory of Christ’s holy name. That our gifts will be used to continue our ministries and lead others to experience the peace of God.
I, for one, inherited a great deal of my faith from those in my life who are now among “the great cloud of witnesses” we speak of in our liturgy and remember today. And, through my faith I have learned to see the risen Christ at work in the world.
I believe everyone sees the risen Christ, but we often fail to recognize him. He comes to us daily through friends, family, and even strangers. In our baptismal covenant we pledge to seek and serve Christ is all persons. This can be an incredibly difficult task, as some people are very good at hiding Christ, who is within them. But it can also be a bit overwhelming when we do see Christ and realize Christ is in front of us in the person we have been seeking to help.
One of the names on our Memorial List for today is Connie Schirmer. She made a lasting impression on me when I watched her interact with our Wednesday Community Meal guests. She got to know them, she cared about them, and she did not judge them. She set a wonderful example for me of the importance of sitting with our guests and listening to their stories.
Our Community Meal Teams serve between 30 to 50 people each week, many of whom struggle to pay their bills each month. There is a free meal offered most every day somewhere in Batesville, and many who come to us take advantage of most, if not all of these meals.
Following Connie’s example, I’ve tried to get to know our guests and have learned that some of them come as much for the fellowship as the meal. Some do not attend meals anywhere else, just the ones here at St. Paul’s. So, I’ve also learned not to make assumptions about what it is they need.
When parents started bringing a small child to our meals who needed a highchair, it was one of our regulars who donated a highchair. As more were needed, she donated more so we now have four highchairs. Another one of our guests gives money to support this ministry. He does not come for a free meal.
Ministry is not only about service; it is about relationships. Right now, our Children’s Sunday School is focusing on service, and they have learned one of my familiar songs, The Servant Song. Listen to the first two verses:
Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are travelers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
This is a song about service AND relationships, and it is a song about what we are called to do as Christians. We are to walk this journey of faith together, helping each other along the way.
The people we are remembering today are people we have relationships with, relationships that did not die with them. Those I remember today have left me an invaluable inheritance – they planted in me the seeds of my faith. This is a gift that is meant to be shared.
Today we were share our gift of faith with Brooks Smith who will be baptize this morning [at our 10:30 service]. As we do, we will renew our own baptismal vows in which we promise to continue in the “apostles’ teaching, and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” Studying the apostles’ teaching, breaking bread together in worship, and prayers are all essential elements of our faith, but when we join together in fellowship, we develop relationships that enable us to support each other on our journey of faith – including offering support to the newly baptized and their parents.
Let us pray.
Loving God, in Christ and in the love we shared with those who have gone before us, you have given us the gift of life and love and faith. We give thanks for all the gifts you have given and ask for your blessings upon our gifts and pledges to St. Paul’s that they might be used to the glory of your name. We pray also that your blessings might be upon Brooks, his parents and Godparents, that Brooks may grow in faith, love, and charity. We offer our prayers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.