Welcome to the mid-point of Allhallowstide!
Allhallowstide is a three-day celebratory festival to honor the saints of all times and all places: past, present, and future.
It began yesterday with All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween).
Today is All Saints Day, originally designated for the canonized capital “S” Saints.
Tomorrow is All Souls Day, honoring the lower case “s” saints who were, who are, and who will be.
Death is not often celebrated among those who remain behind for our grief and the memories that will never be weigh heavily upon our minds, hearts, and souls.
Death is associated with the unknown, the fearful, and the permanent.
Although death is one of only two guarantees in this life, it ALWAYS feels unnatural.
But as I stated this is a three-day joyful celebration of the dead rather than a sober affair.
We can learn from nature and its changing of the seasons. Autumn is a beautiful reminder of death.
Fall teaches us how beautiful it can be to let go of our leaves, preparing ourselves for a death of sorts.
These leaves can be arrogance and pride, hate and anger, pain and resentment, guilt and shame,
toxic relationships and unrealistic expectations, and beyond.
Fall prepares us for a death of sorts that is mirrored throughout creation in Winter.
It is a death to our old selves.
It is a death to self-centeredness and projecting a false self to the world.
It is a death to seeking harm to or fostering ill-will towards another in mind, body, and soul.
It is a death to harming ourself in mind, body, and soul in our desire to
harm or in ill-will towards another.
It is a death to relationships, situations, and expectations that do not serve God’s Kingdom to Come.
It is THIS death that prepares us for a resurrection into new life in the Spring.
Our First John scripture reminds us that we are the children of God, and thus will inherit the Kingdom to Come which is here now, near, and not yet fulfilled. The image of being made pure connects to Baptism and the Revelation scripture (not included in this flashback 1940s service). The particular Revelation verse reads:
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands”. (Revelation 7:9)
A few Sundays ago, I noted that the traditional practice of Baptism included the individual stripping naked, walking through and being completely submerged in the water to symbolize their drowning death, and came through the water onto the other side where they would be greeted by the Baptized community and clothed in a white robe. The white robe was a sign of having been made clean, or pure, through said waters of Baptism, and thus among the great multitude clothed in Jesus the Christ.
Revelation reminds us that the children of God, this great multitude, includes persons from all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages gathered together at the foot of the divine throne, gathered together in worship and praise.
This means there is no space for nationalism among God’s people.
This means there is no space for racism among God’s people.
And yet, racism and nationalism has historically and continues to remain among God’s people.
Revelation continues with language in our Holy Communion rite, which proclaims that salvation, blessing, glory, and power belongs to the Triune God alone.
This means that salvation and blessing does not come through a person or institutions,
including religious or political leaders, denominations or governments.
This means that said glory is not to be given to a person or institutions,
including again religious or political leaders, denominations or governments.
This means that said power and authority does not belong to a person or institutions,
and yet again including religious or political leaders, denominations or governments.
Ultimately, our First John and Revelation scriptures are about a hope that is rooted in the Triune God, who may be active among persons and institutions but cannot be substituted by said persons and institutions.
We are called to follow the example of the Fall trees letting go of all that hold us captive, including:
Arrogance and Pride;
Hate and Anger;
Pain and Resentment;
Guilt and Shame;
Toxic Relationships and Unrealistic Expectations;
Nationalism and Racism;
We are called to prepare for a winter death:
to our old self, self-centeredness, and projecting a false self to the world;
to seeking harm to or fostering ill-will towards another in mind, body, and soul;
to harming ourself in mind, body, and soul in our desire to harm or foster ill-will towards another;
and to relationships, situations, and expectations that do not serve God’s Kingdom to Come.
We are called to embrace the impending Spring resurrection:
Into the persons and community that God has, is, and will continue to call us to be;
Into the Kingdom of God that is here now, near, and not yet fulfilled; and
Into the company of all the Saints and saints gathered around the divine throne and the Lamb.
Jesus offered a glimpse of said Kingdom to Come in the Beatitudes, which was a manifesto for his disciples. The Kingdom to Come is where the needs of all will be met while seeking:
to comfort, or more accurately advocate for, the poor;
to comfort those who mourn;
to be meek peacemakers when possible;
to hold-fast to righteousness; and
to proclaim and reflect Christ in word and deed.
Although we will fail, we have the example of the Saints and saints, who:
proclaimed Christ in word and deed;
acted with compassion and mercy; and
loved and served all people, but especially the most vulnerable.
Martin Luther defined a ‘saint’ as a ‘forgiven sinner’, this includes each one of us.
And I want to share a quote I read and LOVE:
Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
We all have a past, perhaps we can let go of any negative hold it has upon us.
We all have a future, perhaps we can embrace it fully in mind, body, and soul.
May we remember that death does not have the final word. The Triune God does.
Scriptures were Revelation 7: 9-17; 1 John 3: 1-3; and Matthew 5: 1-12.
Originally preached 1 November 2020 at for Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, Indiana)