To Grieve and to Believe
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: John, chapter 11
Today is a special day: All Saints Day. During this Wednesday’s Twenty at Twilight I invited folks to reflect and give thanks for dearly departed saints in their lives; those who blessed them with special care and attentiveness.
On this morning, more than any other Sunday out of the year, we are mindful that the Church is larger than those of us in this room, especially this year in the midst of COVID quarantine. We are mindful that the Church is even larger than all the disciples across the globe. This morning, on All Saints Sunday, we acknowledge that the Church is comprised of believers who not only span the globe; they span the centuries and we are never far removed from those saints who have attained their glory ahead of us.
When I was in seminary, Luke was my favorite gospel. It’s probably, however, important to note that, at the time, I could fit nearly all of my worldly possessions into the hatch of my Pontiac T-1000. Luke has long been dubbed the gospel of “the least, the last, and the lost.” This morning’s gospel verses are from what’s known as The Sermon on the Plain, Luke’s take on Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Both contain beatitudes, but most of us are more familiar with Matthew’s beatitudes. Beatitudes are a particular rhetorical form or device. They are words that solicit, distribute, or celebrate the favor or grace of God. Furthermore, when we celebrate God’s grace, it is a form of worship. Put in simpler terms, it’s kind of like we’re thanking God and congratulating a person simultaneously. The Greek word most frequently translated as “blessed” is closely connected to the Greek word for praise. So blessing involves praising God. Blessing is something we do out loud to identify and name the presence of God’s grace or favor in someone’s life. All of which sounds really good. So why is it that the none of the things Jesus identifies as blessed in this morning’s verses from Luke sound very good; I mean poverty, hunger, sorrow, people maligning you?
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Portions of Hebrews, chapter 11
Our lives are moving at an increasingly hectic pace. For many of us, it is all we can do to keep up to what is immediate and pressing. On a daily basis, the urgent takes us hostage; contrived emergencies and deadlines. But here, in the Church, we can and do experience time differently. We encourage holy pauses that allow us to reflect and to remember and to focus on what is truly important and enduring. Daily our thoughts and our energy are consumed by things that – in the broad stroke of eternity – won’t have much significance: paying bills, picking up groceries and dry cleaning, answering email. So church is the place and All Saints Sunday an important time to put things into proper perspective – to release ourselves from the tyranny of the urgent and pause to celebrate what is real and eternal.
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