Lydia Brown gave an amazing message & the shortest C2G sermon ever! Whitney Stevens sang some Pete Seeger! We remembered our ancestors! Sermon text follows videos.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints and All Souls. I invite you to look around you on this beautiful day. Its beauty comes from a different direction than the vibrant warmth of summer or the timid chill of spring. The air is crisp but it will soon turn bitter. Flora is the color of fire, but will soon turn to the color of ash. The world is dying.
It is as natural to die as it is to be born. All life will die: the microscopic organisms, the plants, our animals, and us -- we are a link on God’s food chain. No matter where you step, something died on that ground. No matter where your thoughts spread or lie, something died there. There’s no running from Death. Death hunts the liquid measure of our steps, hungry for our laughter and our hot hearts. It is as natural to die as it is to be born. Our ancestors all over the world marked this reality with the changing of the seasons. The autumn and the harvest marked the human relationship with death, change, and rebirth.
Death is our natural end and God’s great servant. Just as God is the Lord, the Giver of life, so can he take it. Perhaps Death is God himself, just another side of the face from which we are hidden in the cleft of the rock. Did not God smite the firstborn sons of Egypt? Did not God rain death and despair from the sky onto Sodom and Gomorrah?
But was it not also God who hung upon the cross, suffering and bleeding, only to fade and fall like all the world? This is the new and everlasting covenant we have in Jesus. Death is not the end, merely a door. A tollbooth at which everyone pays a high price without seeing the state of the road or where it leads. Life is a highway and we’re gonna ride it into the night. But the mystery of faith that Christ has died (past tense), Christ is risen (present tense), Christ will come again (future tense). And so will we. Just as Jesus said in the Beatitudes of Luke, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.” Jesus has given us not only triumph over death but the hope of life not only again but also everlasting. No longer the prey of Death the savage hunter, we are both the harvested crops at the great feast of Heaven and attendants at that banquet.
Today on All Saints’ Sunday, when we remember both all the saints and all the faithful departed, we are reminded of this promise Jesus has made. The saints are celebrated because their miracles prove to us that they are in heaven, reminding us of the promised land that awaits us through the doorway of death. We have heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus, and so we do not cease to give thanks for them and remember them in our prayers. Death is only a doorway that separates us from our brothers and sisters in Christ -- they call to us from beyond the grave to speak of the riches of Christ’s glorious inheritance and to enlighten the eyes of our hearts. We hear them sing of the bountiful harvest of souls and the feast of God’s love.
This feast of the Church is our time to die, to weep, and to mourn, but it is also our reminder that we will be resurrected, we will laugh, and we will be comforted, one day, after while.