Sermon for November 1, 2020 All Saints Day The Saints Among Us
But now thus says the Lord, God who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43.1)
To know in the deepest part of your knowing that you are called, chosen and redeemed elevates you to the status of ‘saint among us’. But the often asked question is how do I know? The easy answer is; you will know in your heart.
I know people who have had a real experience of Jesus standing before them call them to a course of action. I know people who opened their heart and allowed Jesus in, I know people who came to Jesus kicking and screaming after years of resisting, I know people who just by the way they live open themselves to God and all sorts in-between. For me the journey to Jesus was a slow steady one nurtured by many. The assurance of faith is a gift of my mother and the curiosity of faith a gift from my father. There have been many saints who have and continue to nurture and nudge my faith. Two that stand out are; Eric Fullerton a minister from my childhood and Gordon Cann who was my minister while I was pursuing my call and is my mentor.
It seems to me that there are a variety of styles of saints in our lives. Before I get too far ahead of myself different denominations have differing views on saints. Some traditions name saints because of their work and demonstrated miracles, others do not believe in naming saints and others name people because of their extraordinary ministry in challenging times. Desmond Tutu or Martin Luther King Jr. will never be named as saints but their steadfastness to God in times of extreme danger has caused their life’s work to be a beacon of faith and hope to many.
So it is on all saint’s day that we hear the words of Revelation that says: After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’
The invitation is for all to be part of the Jesus movement. Some are on board right away and without hesitation, for others it takes some time and some will never get there. What I know for sure is that I am not the evaluator of who is in or not. That role remains solely with Jesus, thanks be.
As part of the invitation Jesus offers a welcome that is completely inclusive: are you poor, do you mourn, are you meek, do you hunger and thirst, are you merciful, and you pure, are you a peacemaker, are you persecuted, are you ridiculed and left out? There are many pathways that lead to Jesus, as many as there are people. And these simple beatitudes begin to make sense as we experience Jesus calling us by name. Logic, reason, principle or formula will not unlock the wonder of Jesus, your heart does. Then faith will enter and unlock your all, for the ministry of Jesus.
In the word of the hymn penned by Daniel Charles Damon our heart hears:
“I have called you by your name, you are mine; I have gifted you and ask you now to shine.
I will not abandon you; all my promises are true. You are gifted, called, and chosen; you are mine.
I have given you a name, it is mine; I have given you my Spirit as a sign. With my wonder in your soul, make my wounded children whole; go and tell my precious people they are mine. You are gifted, called, and chosen; you are mine.”