RCL All Saints Day
Revelation 7:9-17, Psalm 34:1-10 and 22, I John 3:1-3, Saint Matthew 5:1-12

I happened to notice in the Gospel today something which Jesus does not say.  He does not say, “Blessed are the deacons, priests, and bishops of the church, for to them belongs all the ministry of the church.”  Jesus definitely doesn’t say that.

Recently I was reading about a lady whose mother was seriously ill.  The lady said, “The thing that hurt most was that no one from the church came by to see her.”[1]  Knowing that her mother was a life-long member of her parish and that most of her friends were also members, the priest asked her if the friends who visited weren’t “from the church.”  And the lady replied, “No, they came as friends, not from the church.”

The conversation illustrates the widespread perception that pastoral care offered and received from other parishioners does not count.  For the daughter of the woman seriously ill, if the clergy have not come, the church has not come.  How’s that for an eye-opener on All Saints’ weekend?  As for the parishioners who visited the lady, their ministry was perceived as being done socially, out of friendship, without reference to the call of Christ or to their common baptism or membership in the body of Christ.

I am here as Priest-in-Charge to encourage the Vestry and all of the parishioners to understand that they, that you, are the ministers of the church. There are certain sacramental things, certain kinds of instruction, that I am supposed to do. But I will not let it fall to me to function as the past three rectors did. They were the person who makes all the decisions of value including decisions about every program, every event, we undertake. The way forward for us is the way of All Saints, the way of the communion of saints, where each one of us functions according to the gifts given to each.

We all need to remember that in the whole communion of saints, two are better than one, three are better than two, four are better than three, and so on until we all recognize and fully occupy our rightful place in Christ’s Body, the Church.

Those whose lives on earth brought us closer to God—those saints who shared their gifts and brought us all a little nearer or a little deeper into Christ’s kingdom—we pray for. I have a list, and I am sure you have a list, too. How can we possibly pray for them without realizing that what they did for us, we are to do, we are daily to do, for others?

[1] Lloyd Edwards, Discerning Your Spiritual Gifts (Cambridge: Cowley Publications, 1988), pages 36-37.