“Saints”

John 11:32-44

1 November 2015 – All Saints' Sunday

the Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches

John 11:32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

 

Prayer.

 

All Saints' Day is always November First,

With All Saints' Sunday immediately following.

This year, the day and Sunday combine.

“All Saints' is the Church's great day of remembrance.

On All Saints' we remember the saints,

All of them,

Those whose names we can remember,

And those whose names are known only to God.

We remember their noble deeds,

Their witness,

Their martyrdom.

All Saints' is the great memorial day of the church.”

[ Willimon, W., Pulpit Resources, November 5, 2006, p.25-26 ]

 

In the United Methodist Church

“We do not have any system whereby people are elected to sainthood.

We do not pray to saints,

Nor do we believe they serve as mediators to God. 

United Methodist believe …”

The words from First Timothy:

"... There is one God;

There is also one mediator between God and humankind,

Christ Jesus, himself human who gave himself a ransom for all."

(1 Timothy 2:5-6a).

[ As found at: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/do-united-methodists-believe-in-saints ]

 

Zion

Today, we remember

Inez, Ken, Bernie, Diane, and Shirley.

With the same power that unbound Lazarus

We unbind them from this mortal world

And reluctantly free them

For God’s immortal, everlasting, heavenly kingdom.

Thankfully, none of our Saints were martyrs for Christ.

Yet, all of our Saints were champions of noble deeds and gave witness to their faith.

East Rochester

Today, we remember

Bernice Bourne.

With the same power that unbound Lazarus

We unbind her from this mortal world

And reluctantly free her

For God’s immortal, everlasting, heavenly kingdom.

Thankfully, Bernice was not a martyr for Christ.

Yet, she was a champion of noble deeds and gave witness to her faith.

 

 

The funeral liturgy reads:

“We bless thy name for all those who have died in the Lord,

And who now rest from their labors,

Having received the end of their faith,

Even the salvation of their souls.”

 

Today's proclamation also explores,

On this day of remembrance,

The necessity of forgetfulness.

In many respects,

Forgetfulness can be a gift

Just as important as a memory.

 

It is said that time heals old wounds.

I've discovered this to be true in my life.

With the passage of time,

The more painful things we'd like to forget

Become gradually lost in the haze of gentle aging.

This is a good thing;

Especially when it allows us to retain only the best memories,

The best examples of Saints who have gone on before us.

 

In my own life,

I am working to forget the harsh words,

The angry faces,

The names of those who have brought me pain.

I try not to dwell on my own sins of omission or commission,

Let alone the sins of others

Who have now shed their sins

And have gone on to receive their rewards.

I pray that when I die,

My memory will become just as gentle in the minds of others.

 

In his later years,

The author Norman McClean reflects upon his brother's murder,

Which was the culmination of a life of alcoholism and gambling.

He wrote in the book A River Runs Through It

“It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.

Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand

When I was young

Are dead,

But I still reach out to them.”

[ McClean, Norman, A River Runs Through It, University of Chicago Press, 1976 ]

 

I don't think we ever stop reaching out

To the Saints God has shared with us.

In goodness and in pain,

With crystal clarity and with the haze of time,

We reach out to the Saints who have gone on before us.

We reach out to them with thanks for the best, forgetting the worst.

We reach out to them with forgiveness and with love.

We reach out to them and, this day, we give God the glory.

 

In much of scripture,

In one way or another,

Are connections “that remember faith's witness from the past.

Scripture tends to be by its very nature,

Historical retrieval.

Remembrance.

[ Willimon, W., Pulpit Resources, November 5, 2006, p.25-26 ]

 

Let today's worship be an extended reflection upon remembrance,

Upon the subtle, complex nature

Of Christian remembering and Christian forgetting.

Let the feast at our Lord's table,

Celebrated “in remembrance of me,”

Be a celebration of the Saints God has sent our way.

[ Willimon, W., Pulpit Resources, November 5, 2006, p.25-26 ].

 

Remember.

Give thanks;

For what was,

What is,

And what is yet to be.

Amen.