All Saints Sunday, November 6, 2016; Year C
Daniel 7.1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1.11-23; Luke 6.20-31
Pastor Renee Splichal Larson
Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Prop me up at the table so I can pray for all of you.” These words were said by one of the newest saints to pass from death to life, Katie Schindler. I talked about Katie last Sunday in my sermon not knowing that she had just died shortly before midnight the night before. She was 25 years old. That Saturday, the day she died, she asked her family to prop her up at their table in order that she might pray for each of them.
When we pray prayers each week in worship, we ask that God may sustain us through the faith and witness of those who have gone before us. Katie’s witness of praying for her loved ones before she died is so beautiful and powerful it almost makes me weep.
In fact, this story brought me to tears when Jon and I attended her funeral on Friday.
Another story shared at her funeral that blew me away was that she once told her friend in the midst of her battle with cancer: “ I sure hope people are praying the right thing for me. I hope that everyone is not praying for me to be healed, but that God would be glorified through me and that God’s will would be done.”
25 years old, with a new doctoral degree and job in Physical Therapy, and newly married as of September 4th, 2016, and instead of healing she asks that people see the mercy and goodness of God through her.
This is what I want to be like. That when death comes to me, whenever that is, that I can pray for those I love and can look death in the eyes and say, “I’m not afraid of you because God holds me close and will never let me go.”
Katie knew that there would be life for her beyond death, life with God, life that is good and eternal. And it deeply affected how she lived, even in the face of cancer.
She still had incredible joy, a joy that can only come from the One in whom she put her trust. She knew Jesus loved her and that his love would carry her through death.
So what does a day like today mean for all of us still living on this earth?
Shorty we will be reading Katie’s name, along with many others you have all written down who you want to remember today. We read these names aloud and remember their example to us, and their place now with God beyond the grave.
This is a day that is meant to give us encouragement that the promises of God are true and that we are to continue living out our lives and callings in this beautiful world God has made.
On the back of Katie’s funeral bulletin it read: “One of Katie’s favorite ways of showing love was by helping others through Physical Therapy. As you leave today, you may honor Katie’s life by sharing your gifts and love with others.”
Our Gospel reading for today is the beatitudes, the blessings and teachings of Jesus. He tells us what a faithful life looks like. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Jesus even says, “Love your enemies!” What a great word for us from Jesus just two days before one of the most divisive elections in the history of our country.
The sun will rise on Wednesday, November 9th, like any other day, and Jesus will still be Lord of both heaven and earth.
So on this day, let us continue to be God’s presence and love for one another, praying for each other and encouraging one another in hope. We do this while putting our faith in the One who holds us all, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
All Saints Teaching (beginning of worship):
One of the primary meanings of All Saints is that we gather to give thanks to God for the Saints of every time and place to whom we are joined in eternal fellowship; for those who have been particularly important to us and who, having died, now live in the nearer presence of God; and for God’s raising of Jesus Christ from the dead so that we might have hope not only in our dying but also in all of our living.
Not only do we take the time in worship today to name and give thanks for those in our lives who have died, but also to celebrate all the living saints with whom we have relationship, fellowship, and encouragement in faith. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2.19: “You all are no longer strangers or outsiders, but you are all citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” As we gather for worship this day, let us remember the promise of God that nothing can separate us from God’s love for each of us in Christ Jesus our Lord.