Sermon Notes 2019 11 03 Rev David Howells Sermon for the Sunday of All Saints
Being a Saint.
When I was a student, and new to Jesus as alive in my world instead of a figure from religious history, I got to know a woman called Ivy. She told me that she wanted to be a saint! I thought, “That’s crazy talk!”. Ivy was, if not crazy, seriously unusual, and American.... But.... I think Jesus was having Ivy catch my attention and open my eyes, and heart, a crack further.
What is a saint?
Saint comes from Middle English, from Old French seint, from Latin sanctus.
Something that is sacred can be described as holy, like the Holy Bible. ... The adjective holy comes from the Old English word hālig and is related to the German word heilig, meaning “blessed.”
To be a saint is to be someone who is blessed (which is an unearned gift from God)
But the readings for All Saints day are chosen to let us know that this is not a charming and comfortable way of being.
Listen to Daniel.
Daniel said, “Last night I saw in a dream, a vision, the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. I was troubled. The visions of my head terrified me. These four great beasts, they are four kings, presidents, dictators, and they shall arise. But.....but! The holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever--forever and ever.” (The implication is that this will not be a walk in the park. It will be hard, hard slogging.)
Listen to Jesus..
Imagine...... You are poor, often there is no food at home or money in your pocket and you are hungry. You find that when you are alone you cry. You suspect, no, actually feel sure that people hate you, that they exclude you, they talk about you behind your back, They mock you .... because you are trying to be Christlike. It makes you feel foolish! Absurd to even imagine that you could be Christlike.
Jesus says to you... “Rejoice and leap for joy for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
For you can be sure that your reward is great in heaven; Yours is the kingdom of God. ... you will be filled, ... and you will laugh.”
On the other hand, be careful! Be careful if people do treat you with extra honours or respect because you go to church, or a church warden, a musician in church, or (heaven help you) ordained!
And what if you are you rich? Mildly well off? Well then.... you may have received your consolation.
You see, you are well fed now? Later you will be hungry. You laugh easily, comfortably? The time will come when your will be heart broken. You will mourn and you will weep.
And woe to you when everyone speaks well of you. It turned out that it was always the false prophets, the lying politicians, the glory seekers who got all the praise, but not from our Father.
Listen! This is how to be saintly!
Treat your enemies as if you loved them, and do good, intentionally, to those who, you think, hate you.
If anyone curses you, dismisses you or puts you down, bless them. Don’t turn your heart away from them. If anyone is abusive to you, pray for them, holding them up to God for healing. If anyone hits you in the face, ask them if they want to hit you again. Ask them if that is what they really want to do to you.
If someone steals your coat, run after them and offer them your hat and gloves too. Do not curse them, but offer them help. Think how desperate you would have to be to steal a coat.
When you see a beggar give what you can to them.
And if anyone takes your glory, or takes praise for your work, let it go. They must be so needy and fearful to need propping up with lies. Don’t pull them down, they are already drowning quietly.
And in your dealings with anyone, deal with each one as you would like someone to deal with you.
Ivy performed no miracles. She was not outwardly extraordinary. But she was the first person who showed me that faith was not about believing things that others taught, but in trying, even faultingly, to do what Jesus might do if she or he were incarnate in me.
I say “she or he” because as a “Christian” you are trying to be a “little Christ”, and so Christ is present throughout the gender spectrum. So... Christ contains feminine and masculine, LGBTQ, two-spirited, handicapped, childlike and slipping into senility, physically athletic and intellectually challenged, and plain old ordinary me. There is no one who is not made in the image of God in Christ.
The way to becoming a saint is open for you . Early Christians were called “followers of that way” You need only to trust that God will walk beside you, should you choose to set off along it. Happy All Saints!