Sermon for Sunday, November 1, 2015 || All Saints Day, Year B|| Isaiah 25: 6-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21: 1-6a; John 11: 32-44 || The Rev. Margot D. Critchfield
Blessings to each of you on what feels this year like an especially bittersweet and beautiful All Saints Day. Bittersweet because John Seavey- one of the great saints of this church–was released into his new life in Christ Friday night; bittersweet because he is the seventeenth member of our parish family to have died since All Saints Day last year, at least six of whom were at the prime of their lives. And beautiful because as much as this day is about remembering and honoring the dead, it is equally about remembering and honoring the living—saints like you and me and the fourteen children we’ve baptized since All Saints day last year—each and every one of us– saints of God.
The Book of Common Prayer tells us that, “the communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.”
Bound together, defying denominational and demographic distinctions, defying time, defying death itself. We are bound together with all who came before us, known and unknown, those we loved and those we hurt….bound together such that they are with us—however mysteriously—in the sacraments, in our prayers, and in our praise. Just as we will be bound with those who come after us. That is the bittersweet beauty of the communion of saints.
Listen and remember: Bryan Hudson, Margaret Smalzel, Betty Corvan, Ken Cook, Stefan Hanke, Muriel Sylvia, Mary Kennedy, Kitty Whitley, Sue Jackson, Michael Munson, Jane Crocker, Kay Lincoln, Edwin Lincoln 3rd, Michael Sullivan, Tom Higgins, Liz Knox, John Seavey. Saints of God who left us this past year; saints whom we love but see no longer.
Now listen and give thanks, for: Matthew Braeu, Taylor Dodge, Peyton Smith, Molly Sullivan, Molly Cave, Annalise Ray, Austin Hergreuter, Braxton and Lexi Orr, Erin Driscoll, Maddy Martin, Isabelle and Madeleine Dubeau, Riley Carter. Saints of God, very much alive, who we have promised to support in their life in Christ.
The whole family of God. The living and the dead. Those we love and those we have hurt. Bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer and praise. You, me, each and every one of us.
“Life is short,” we are reminded nearly every week, “and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk the way with us. So be swift to love, and make haste to be kind…”
Life is short, and with the death of each loved one and the birth of each baby we are reminded of just how terribly fragile it is too. So terribly fragile! Even as I wrote this, news was breaking that more than 200 vacationers had been killed when their plane suddenly went down in Egypt. My God, imagine: soaking up the sun one minute, gone the next.
Life is short, and it is time—it seems to me—for a great awakening. An awakening to the heart-breaking beauty and preciousness of life, and of each other. An awakening to the finite limits of our creaturehood and our limitless capacities to hurt and to heal within those limits. An awakening to what it means to be fully alive, saints of God, marked as Christ’s own forever– yet on this fragile earth our island home for but a moment. A moment! It is time for an awakening.
Life is short. It is so short and so fragile and so beautiful, that sometimes it hurts. And sometimes it hurts quite a lot. That is the bittersweet beauty of being the communion of saints.
So be swift to love. And make haste to be kind. Because really–we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk the way with us, those with whom we are bound together by sacrament, prayer and praise.
I can think of no better way to honor our dead than by honoring the living. And what better way to honor the living than by waking up—waking up to the shortness, the fragility, and the exquisite beauty of life, and loving each other as the beloved saints of God that we are? Amen.