my miscellany

All Saints Sunday — 7 Nov 22

All Saints Sunday

Beerhorst, Rick and Brenda. Peaceable Kingdom, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55782 [retrieved November 7, 2022]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74782490@N00/5816094892.

RCL Year C, All Saints
Daniel 7:1-3 and 15-18, Psalm 149, Ephesians 1:11-23, Saint Luke 6:20-31

My heart goes out to people who are scared—scared of the dark, scared of a ferocious illness, scared of being forgotten or left alone, or even of being not worth very much, socially or financially, according to some standard or expectation. My heart especially goes out to people who profess Jesus Christ, because they are scared of what will happen to them if they do not profess Jesus Christ. They’ve just missed the message entirely. Their conception of a God who would trick them to obedience in order to treat them to salvation seems to me so very unreal that it is hard to contemplate.

For Christianity concerns reality: all reality, everything that God created. This reality includes more than the physical world, more than just what our senses perceive. The reality Christianity concerns is spiritual as well as physical. It is supernatural as well as natural. It includes time, but it also includes the timeless, all that is beyond finitude, all that is eternal.

Most especially the reality that Christianity embraces includes Jesus’ victory over death. And this reality includes the gift of his victory to us. His victory is a victory in which we share. Our favorite Feasts have become our favorites for this reason. They bring to mind Jesus’ final and ultimate victory, and how that victory becomes ours. And as we share in that victory, we, following him, begin to understand that his victory is such that we have nothing to be scared of.

Easter proclaims that victory gloriously and triumphantly leaving no doubt among Jesus’ followers about what had happened and what its consequences are. Saint Michael and All Angels shows that very victory being appropriated by the angels themselves who defeat the dragon and its angels who fight back but do not prevail and do not any longer have any place in heaven.[1] And the Feast of All Saints signifies and declares that Jesus’ victory over death replicates itself in all the saints, the entire membership of the Christian community including the saints of heroic sanctity, the evangelists, the apostles, the prophets, the martyrs, all the holy ones who have found favor with God.

We remember all these saints, because they are united to us in the communion of saints. They remember us and pray for us even as we remember and pray for them. They remind us of Christ’s victory over death, and because we are what they once were, they bring to our souls and minds the promises of Christ. They bring those promises near enough for us to grasp them. And if we have the grace to grasp them, may we have also the grace never to let them go. For all the saints and we are Christ’s own, Christ’s own for ever and ever. Sharing his victory over death means that a new existence is in store for us. We shall be united with all the people of God, in the joy of knowing fully and completely that God loves us and gives us the power to love all his children. May we never be scared again. And may we never forget that Christ conquered death to give that victory to us.

[1] Apocalypse 12:7-8.

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