All Saints' Sunday
Lessons:Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18 Psalm 149 (1) Ephesians 1:11-23 St. Luke 6:20-31
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
20 Then [Jesus] looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. 27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
St. Luke 6:20-31. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
All Saints… All of Us
There is a story about a child who asked Mom what a saint was. Mom was trying to explain sainthood, and finally came upon this answer: “You know those people whose pictures are in the stained glass windows at church? Mary and Peter and John and Paul and the others? They are the saints.” The child thought for a moment, and finally responded: “Oh I get it. Saints are people who let the light shine through.” A pretty good answer!
This Sunday is All Saints’ Sunday. Ever since a.d. 610, when Pope Boniface IV instituted this festival in Rome, each November 1st has been recognized as All Saints’ Day (and if it is a mid-week date, the following Sunday is All Saints’ Sunday). There are two distinct dimensions to every All Saints’ Day. First of all, it is a day when we remember those saints, famous and familiar, whose lives have graced the church, and whose faithfulness continues to inspire us today. We think of Biblical characters like Abraham, the father of the Hebrew faith; or David, Israel’s greatest king; or Peter, the first among our Lord’s disciples; or Paul, who started a number of congregations and left some powerful letters behind. We think of those who have left their mark on the church in more recent years: early church leaders like Jerome, Augustine, or Athanasius; musicians like Bach, Schütz, and Handel; reformers like Luther, Calvin, and Hauge; teachers and witnesses like Jonathan Edwards, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr. We think of those who are less well known: the saints whom we’ll mentioned during this weekend’s worship; saints whose witness and encouragement has shaped our faith; saints who continue to play a role in strengthening the church’s witness. All Saints’ Sunday is a day to remember all of those whose lives have enriched the church, and have inspired our own faithfulness.
There is a second dimension to All Saints’ Sunday. It is also a day to acknowledge, with the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, that saints are those who know what is the hope to which God has called us, who know the riches of the inheritance we receive in Christ, and who know the immeasurable greatness of Christ’s power for those who believe.
Put a different way, a Christian is (in the words of Luther and the reformers) simil justis et peccator; Latin for: “at the same time, saint and sinner.” Luther taught that all believers are sinners since we are human, yet all believers are saints, since we have been cleansed by the righteousness of Christ. On All Saints’ Sunday we remember who we are: sinners in need of forgiveness, and saints washed clean by Christ.
Ultimately, this is what a saint is: whether you’re talking about one of the famous saints, known by the whole church, or whether you’re talking about a lesser known saint who belongs to our own community (including you and me). A saint is someone who has been touched by God in a way that has made a difference. My God touch us this weekend, as we worship together on All Saints’ Sunday.
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- Which Biblical Saints have life stories that still touch the hearts of believers today?
- Is their model primarily one of following faithfully after Christ, or being deeply touched by grace?
- How did the Reformer’s understanding of saint (someone who is forgiven by faith in Christ) help strengthen the early years of the Lutheran movement?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- How has God helped me to be certain that I am one of the saints; a believer who has been made right with God through Jesus Christ?
- When has one of God’s Saints touched my life, and inspired my faithfulness?
- How am I feeling called to live as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?