al style='margin-bottom:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height: normal'>Lord, may we clearly see you and the glory that you have redeemed for us through those that you have chosen as your saints. Amen
Today as you know by now we are celebrating All Saints Day – The actual day is November 1st, which this year is Thursday past, however it is a day to be celebrated and not to be missed.
I say not to be missed because it is a wonderful opportunity in this harvest season, this thanksgiving season, to lay claim of the Saints that have gone before and ministered in the Lord
All Saints Day is lost amongst most of our culture… taking a backseat to Halloween
But in fact the tradition of Halloween came second to what we celebrate today ‘All Saints Day’ – Halloween is short for All Hallows' Eve or All Saints' Eve
That distinction is lost and so following up from what has become the second busiest retail time of the year
– a time separated from its foundational understanding… many in society would question
Why do people go to church? Why do they embrace religion?
Why do they listen to religious radio programs?
One of the common answers to these questions goes like this: "People are looking for something uplifting--something that will help them make it through another week."
Some would say, "The work week beats you down, so Sunday should lift you up. Life is hard. Church is like a shot of adrenaline. It gets you through!"
Others would speak of moral obligation, the ordering of society, and fulfilling the commandment to keep the Sabbath.
Down through the centuries, Christians have articulated all sorts of different reasons for belonging to a faith community.
In some settings, people have spoken, first and foremost, about church being a place where you can search for God, find a personal Savior, or at least, learn the content of the Christian faith.
Others emphasize their connection to a community of love and support.
Still others point to a liturgy: to their thirst for the sacraments, the music, and the prayers.
Others still indicate that they have sought out church because they long to be part of a prophetic community
Or a group dedicated to meeting human need: feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, reaching out to a broken world.
Many might say… “all of the above… and more”
In every age, there have been those who have expected church to provide a moral compass for themselves or their children.
This past week in between games of squash, while catching our breath, my opponent (a catholic), knowing that I am a minister, said that people focus too much on the differences of denominations, and that scares people away from church,
When at the end of the day getting the kids out to hear a moral message is so much more important than the minutia of the details – especially with all they hear in the world around them.
And I agree, and that is why I am so thankful that this church is committed to youth ministries.
In this post-modern age in which all authority… and all structures of authority… are questioned,
A large number of Christians give a different reason for associating with church – for them it is simply….for having faith.
Now more than ever the struggle for faith taking a role in our lives is under attack
Yet, this is not new – consider the following situation from over 100 years ago
An Atheist Professor of Philosophy was speaking to his Class on the Problem Science has with GOD, the ALMIGHTY. He asked one of his New Christian Students to stand and…
Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor : So, you Believe in GOD ?
Student : Absolutely, sir.
Professor : Is GOD Good ?
Student : Sure.
Professor : Is GOD ALL - POWERFUL ?
Student : Yes.
Professor : My Brother died of Cancer even though he Prayed to GOD to Heal him. Most of us would
attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? … Hmm?
(Student was silent )
Professor : You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, Young Fella. Is GOD Good?
Student : Yes.
Professor : Is Satan good ?
Student : No.
Professor : Where does Satan come from ?
Student : From . . . GOD . . .
Professor : That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this World?
Student : Yes.
Professor : Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?
Student : Yes.
Professor : So who created evil ?
(Student did not answer)
Professor : Is there Sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness?
All these terrible things exist in the World, don’t they?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor : So, who Created them ?
(Student had no answer)
Professor : Science says you have 5 Senses you use to Identify and Observe the World around you.
Tell me, son . . . Have you ever Seen GOD?
Student : No, sir.
Professor : Tell us if you have ever Heard your GOD?
Student : No , sir.
Professor : Have you ever Felt your GOD, Tasted your GOD, Smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any Sensory Perception of GOD for that matter?
Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor : Yet you still Believe in HIM?
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What
do you say to that, son?
Student : Nothing. I only have my Faith.
Professor : Yes, Faith. And THAT is the Problem Science has.
Student : Professor, is there such a thing as Heat?
Professor : Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as Cold?
Professor : Yes.
Student : No, sir. There isn’t.
(The Lecture Theatre became very quiet with this turn of events)
Student : Sir, you can have Lots of Heat, even More Heat, Superheat, Mega Heat, White Heat, a Little Heat or No Heat. But we don’t have anything called Cold. We can hit 458 Degrees (273 Celsius) below Zero which is No Heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as Cold. Cold is only a Word we use to describe the Absence of Heat. We cannot Measure Cold. Heat is Energy. Cold is Not the Opposite of Heat, sir, just the Absence of it.
(There was Pin-Drop Silence in the Lecture Theatre)
Student : What about Darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as Darkness?
Professor : Yes. What is Night if there isn’t Darkness?
Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the Absence of Something, You can have Low Light, Normal Light, Bright Light, Flashing Light… But if you have No Light constantly, you have nothing and it’s called Darkness, isn’t it? In reality, Darkness isn’t. If it is, were you would be able to make Darkness Darker, wouldn’t you?
Professor : So what is the point you are making, Young Man ?
Student : Sir, my point is your Philosophical Premise is flawed.
Professor : Flawed ? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the Premise of Duality. You argue there is Life and then there is Death, a Good GOD and a Bad GOD. You are viewing the Concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a Thought. It uses Electricity and Magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view Death as the Opposite of Life is to be ignorant of the fact that Death cannot exist as a Substantive Thing Death is Not the Opposite of Life: just the Absence of it.
Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your Students that they evolved from a Monkey?
Professor : If you are referring to the Natural Evolutionary Process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed Evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shook his head with a Smile, beginning to realize where the Argument was going)
Student : Since no one has ever observed the Process of Evolution at work and Cannot even prove that this Process is an On-Going Endeavor, Are you not teaching your Opinion, sir? Are you not a Scientist but a Preacher?
(The Class was in Uproar)
Student : Is there anyone in the Class who has ever seen the Professor’s Brain?
(The Class broke out into Laughter)
Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s Brain, Felt it, touched or Smelt it?...
No one appears to have done so… So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that You have No Brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then Trust your Lectures, sir?
(The Room was Silent. The Professor stared at the Student, his face unfathomable)
Professor : I guess you’ll have to take them on Faith, son.
Student : That is it sir . . . Exactly ! The Link between Man & GOD is FAITH.
That is ALL that keeps things alive and moving.
That student was Albert Einstein.*
Hebrews 11:1-3 declares: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
"Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?" the psalmist asks and we began our worship this morning.
In other words, who is worthy to enter God's temple?
We might ask a similar question on this celebration of All Saints' Day:
"Who are God's saints? Who is worthy to enter God's presence?"
The psalmist answers the question for us: "Those who have clean hands and pure hearts" may enter God's temple, and they "will receive blessing from the Lord."
So, who has "clean hands and pure hearts?"
WE DO! We, whose hands and hearts are washed clean in the waters of baptism.
We receive God's word of forgiveness… “Forgiveness” repeatedly creates in us the clean hearts we ask for.
Because of God's grace, we are God's saints
—ordinary and extraordinary, well-known and known only to a few,
The whole people of God in Christ Jesus.
Our passages from Hebrews 11 (sometimes called the heroes of the faith)
Call us to take inspiration from our fellow believers.
We hear about the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Jacob
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. (Hebrews 11:13a)
Part of the beauty and power of growing together as the body of Christ is being in community with other people of faith.
Each of us can name people who have challenged and encouraged us in our journey.
Later today, I encourage you to take some time and think of your own heroes of the faith
Here is a story of one such hero of faith
She grew up in a Christian home, the daughter of a pastor.
Her faith formed her moral and spiritual life through high school and college and exuded from her in delightful ways.
She married a deeply committed Christian man. Life was grand — until one day while driving from her teaching job she was hit by a driver who ran a red light.
She suffered traumatic brain injury and coma. After months of therapy, she now spends life mostly in a wheelchair.
Undaunted, she and her husband are rearing two children.
She continues with therapy, goes on family trips, and is the best friend anyone could have.
Her favorite saying is “Faith makes things possible, not easy.”
I thank God for the blessing of her and all the heroes of faith who inspire us.
Finally, consider our story from the gospel – it is a powerful story that reveals the glory of God
It reveals the power of faith even in the face of tragedy
After Lazarus died, Mary said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." ( John 11:32)
She already seems to know that Jesus cannot be stopped even by death.
Soon, others know it too… This is but a foretaste of the future that awaits Jesus himself
· Jesus, who could not be contained by his own grave.
· Jesus, whose return to life was new and complete and everlasting.
· Jesus, whose victory over sin, death, and the powers of evil… was all for us.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ – as we celebrate the faith of those that have gone before us, on this All Saints Day celebration
Trust as they did, that even when we are dead – God will call our name
God’s grace is so abundant, so complete – that when you are really, really dead, like Lazarus – four days in the grave
God will call your name… and you too, will be raised
Thanks be to God – Thanks be for the saints of history… and of our lives
Thanks be to God that transforms us from sin and death to life eternal – Amen
Illustrations sent via email – author unknown
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