02 November 2015

Some sounds and sights from All Saints at the International Center

Homily for All Saints (Rev. 7; Matthew 5)

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

All saints can be a bit awkward when we hear the name of someone we knew and loved mentioned and we think: saint? Well. Not really. I knew them. I lived with them. I’ll not forget my wife’s uncle’s funeral. The man up front jawed on quite a long time and gave such a glowing and amazing picture of Uncle Bill, that finally Aunt Jane leaned forward and whispered kind of loudly to my mother-in-law: Jo, I sure would have liked to have known THAT man! You see, all the family knew that Bill was rather cantankerous and to put it politely quite a handful. And so when my name is added to the list of those remembered on all saints, people who know me would definitely snort: if you think that man was a saint you obviously didn’t know him very well, especially when he was playing cards! And I suspect they’d think the same about everyone of you.

Ah, but today we remember these departed loved ones not as what Luther called “card board saints” but as real saints: that is, very real sinners who failed to love God with everything they had and who failed time and again to love their neighbors as themselves; as folks whose very real sins hurt and at times broke the hearts of those around them, and maybe whose hearts you broke a time or two. And YET. They have all been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. Of the great multitude that surrounds the throne of God and the Lamb, not one is there because they lived their lives perfectly, or even reasonably well. Every last one is there because they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Baptized into Him, who one is THE Saint in the sense of the perfect one, they have been forgiven and credited with a righteousness, a perfection, a holiness that is pure gift. That’s why they cry “salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb.” 

So as we remember loved ones today, we don’t have to pretend they were perfect. We don’t have to let death sanitize their memories. The blood of the Lamb has already done that. He’s forgiven them all their sins, even the sins that lurked in their good deeds. Just as He does for you and me. They after all knew that they were poor in spirit, they had nothing to give and everything to receive. And in Jesus, they did receive all. You will too. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

Norman Teigen said...

Very nicely done. Thank you.