Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Saints Day

What a wonderful morning in worship today.  I had the opportunity to share in worship with the congregation at First United Methodist Church in Leavenworth, KS this morning.  I helped in leading the service and the Litany for the Saints and then brought the message and helped to serve communion.  It was a lovely service and I'm so happy I was able to part of it.  I thought I'd share my sermon with you today.  I hope you don't mind.  I love to hear from  you!  Comments will be open below.



Saints.  Honestly, I don’t really remember talking all that much about saints when I was a little girl.  I mean I knew churches that were named St. Luke's or St. Mark's but that was really it.  I do remember as a little girl wondering how you get to be a saint.  Well, actually, I think at first I thought only disciples were saints but as I grew older and heard other saints names, I realized there were others.  I mean I had never heard of a disciple named Christopher before so I began to wonder how exactly do you get to be saint?  I figured you had to do something really AMAZING, something incredible.  Probably something really far out my reach, I was just a little girl after all.  I can’t really tell you at what point I started to figure things out but it was a slow process.  I didn’t ask anyone because it seemed that the whole world understood sainthood except me.  So I just listened quietly and read. I just tried to quietly take it all in and figure it out myself.  Even in preparing for today, I looked up what the United Methodist church believes about saints.  We call people “saints” because they exemplified the Christian life, so every Christian can be considered a saint according to the website.  John Wesley believed we have much to learn from the saints but not that they are not to worshipped. 

So, All Saints' Day is a time to remember Christians of every time and place, honoring those who lived faithfully and shared their faith with us. 

Would you please pray with me?  May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.  AMEN

 Well, I have to tell you, the scriptures for today are not the easiest for me develop a sermon.  The Gospel reading, hmmm… well, my first thought was a Sunday School lesson my husband did on Zombies and I don’t feel like that is really all that appropriate.  Then we have the reading from Revelation and Isaiah about what life could be, or will be.  The problem with those is that well, I don’t think we should be good, or lead a good life just for the end, just for the what we will receive in the end.  I think we should be good, lead the good life, be Christ-like because, well, that just how we should be. 

I struggled all week over these verses and tried to really look at them with new eyes, with fresh eyes, with open eyes.  Often when we think of All Saints Sunday, we think of those we have lost, those who have gone before us, those who, well, we miss!  That’s when I saw the verse from John, “And Jesus began to weep.” Or in the English Standard Version, “Jesus wept.”  Actually, just a couple of verses before that it talks about Jesus seeing Mary weeping and that he was deeply moved.  It reminded me of my grief when my father passed away last year.  It comforted me to know that he saw my grief and was moved and that he wept with me.

If we go back a few verses before our reading for today actually began, we see Jesus explaining to Martha, that he is the resurrection and the life and all who believe in him, even though they die, will not perish but will live forever.  Reading these verses again, reminded me that he wasn’t only talking about physical death.  When my father died there were days I felt like I had too.  I know my mother felt this way as well but because of our faith and our belief we could were able to move through that, albeit sometimes very slowly, we were able to move through that death into living again and being there for others, to help others, to love others, and to continue to grow in our faith.

When I was asked to preach this week, I wasn’t sure which scripture was going to be used, the regular Lectionary reading or the special lectionary reading for All Saints Day.  It felt like it could really go either way.  So I want to share with you the gospel reading from the regular lectionary reading from the book of Mark 12:28-34 

12:28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"

12:29 Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;

12:30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'

12:31 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

12:32 Then the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that 'he is one, and besides him there is no other';

12:33 and 'to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and 'to love one's neighbor as oneself,' --this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

12:34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that no one dared to ask him any question.

I think this goes well with our theme of All Saints day because it gives us a guide for living an exemplified Christian life.    First is to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. Of course a great way to do that is by following the second part of Jesus’ answer, which was to love our neighbor as our self. I started thinking of some the saints who have gone before me who did so well and who taught me to do the same.  My grandmother was to me the epitome of a saint.  She had that first part down.  She was faithful in her church attendance, she was active in Bible studies and UMW.  She took care of her neighbors.  She trusted God wholeheartedly.  I’ve always wanted to be like her, strong in my faith, strong in service and overflowing in love.

As I thought on this, the verses from Revelation and Isaiah came to mind.  They are so similar to me.  Revelation talks of a new heaven and new earth.  It talks of God coming down and living among mortals, with us and making all things new.  It got me thinking about today, our time.  It got me wondering.  It reads “He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."

How often do we say we, as the church or as individuals, are the hands and feet of God?  If we truly are that then shouldn’t we be doing this?  Shouldn’t WE be comforting and loving one another. And then I thought, if we do those things how much closer we will become to God.  We will feel him nearer to us each time we comfort our neighbor, each time we offer and show them love.

In Isaiah, we hear about the feast the Lord will put out for us.  That he will destroy the shroud that is cast over us and again it says he will wipe away the tears and disgrace of his people.  Again, as God’s hands and feet we should helping with that feast, we should be helping to destroy the shroud that separates us from one another.  We should love one another. 

Imagine what this world would be, could be like if all Christians, if EVERYONE, worked on this!  I think we would see a world that just might resemble that new earth, that new heaven and I know that we would see the face God in each face in which we looked.  We would grow closer to him.  We would be drawn ever so near to him.  We would feel his presence among us and like the saints who have gone before us, we would exemplify the Christian life the way it is supposed to be.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sherri! Thank you for sharing your sermon. I know how much preparation time goes into crafting a message--lots of prayer for sure. (I'm a lay speaker in the Iowa Conference of the UMC and have been for a number of years.)

    If you're interested, I have a blog (, if you're interested in taking a look. Generally, I post devotionals, however, I also have some of my sermons posted--including two videos.