2017-11-05/All Saints Sunday/Community Luth/Pr. Joe Vought
1 John 3:1-13 Matthew 5:1-12
In the movie “Forrest Gump,” Forrest has a talk with his dying mother, “Why are you dying momma?” “It’s my time, it’s just my time Forrest, now don’t you be afraid. I didn’t know it, but I was destined to be your momma. I did the best I could.” “What’s my destiny momma?” “Oh Forrest, you’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself.” It is a beautiful moment even if it’s fictional. Soren Kierkegaard, once said, “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forward.” Life is like that it, isn’t it? The way before us may not be clear, filled with uncertainly, fear, hope or excitement. But looking backwards, with the hindsight of faith, we see how God has been faithful so we can hope for whatever destiny and the future holds.
Who are the saints? They aren’t extraordinary people although they can be. For the most part they are ordinary people like Forrest Gump, his momma, you and me. But they become aware of some destiny and larger purpose in their life. Maybe we are most aware when those we love come to the end of their lives, like Forrest with his mother. I remember visiting with my dad and mom before they died. I still grieve them but more sobering is the thought, “Oh my, I am next in line, kind of like the Deli counter, when will my number be called.” We are in a great procession of the human family. One of the prayers in our Funeral liturgy proclaims, “O Lord, the generations rise and pass before you you are the strength of those who labor, you are the peace of the blessed dead.” Scripture tells us we live within the narrative of a larger story. We are baptized into the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our lives are not our own. We have a destiny beyond ourselves.
Whenever we worship, our lives are reframed in the light of God’s story. In Revelation, written for Christians persecuted by the Empire, John beholds a multitude of tribes and nations who stand before God and the Lamb robed in white. John is told “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal, they are before the throne of God and they worship him day and night… the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” The beautiful words from 1st John tell us, “Beloved we are God’s children now, what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is we will be like him, we will see him as he is.” And then in the Gospel, Jesus who shared the joy and pain of our life, proclaims extraordinary Blessings. We are loved not just when we are at the top of our game, but God loves us in the utter depths and struggling moments of our lives.
Today we look back on our Godly heritage: 500 years of Reformation, giving thanks for Luther and all the other reformers and saints in the Church Catholic who called us to look to Jesus and be people of God’s grace and good news. We give thanks for those who gave us life, showed us the forgiveness of sins and encouraged us in our lives of faith. I hope you will fill out a cross or two to be displayed in our church, a witness to all those who formed us into the people we are. We give thanks for 45yrs of Community Lutheran. Once upon a time it was a dream and vision that took flesh when Pr. Nelson and others gathered to worship. With thanksgiving we honor all the Pastors and people who ever served here, for without them we would not be here.
“Life can be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.” Giving thanks for what has been, we renew our Baptism into Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We celebrate our sainthood and light candles for our personal saints. We receive Christ in bread and wine and we offer our pledges for Christ’s church, to serve and live like Jesus. Fr. Henri Nouwen, a great spiritual writer says, “Now these are the real questions: “Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? We must trust that the little bit of love we sow now will bear fruit in this world and the life to come.”
This is our time, brothers and sisters. We are not afraid because our past, present and future destiny is in the hands of a good and loving God. We may dare to live, love and serve like Jesus. We can pray, think and imagine the legacy of our lives. Like the saints before us, how will we serve while we have the Spirit’s breath? Who will we touch and influence? See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God and that is what we are. Rejoice and be glad, yours is the Kingdom of God! Amen.