Sermon for Year A
All Saints Day
Did you know you can go to iTunes
and for just $ 1.99 you can purchase a PATRON SAINTS APP?
Now this is “app” as in “application”--for your iPhone or iPad--
not “app” as in Appalachian State University
which is often the first thing that comes to the minds
of those of us who live in this part of Western North Carolina.
Technology apps make something easily accessible,
helpful in every day situations.
The Patron Saints app can help you find the saint you need.
Do you want to sell your house?
You need to pray to St. Joseph
and then bury St. Joseph (only a statue)--head first--in your front yard.
Always losing your keys?
Prayers to St. Zita might help.
St. Isidore of Seville became the patron saint of the internet--in 1999.
If you’re worried about whales (as in the animal, not the country),
prayers to St. Brendan might help.
I found out there is no patron saint of drummers
but there are quite a few patron saints for musicians--
Benedict, Cecilia, Dunstan, Genesius, Gregory the Great, even
St. Paul--I take it musicians must need a lot of saintly help!
Of course we have our own saint--most Episcopal churches do--
ours is St. John.
Not St. John the Baptist
but St. John the Apostle and Evangelist.
Now our St. John is considered the patron saint of...to name just a few...
Patron saint against poisoning
(and to my knowledge no one here has ever been poisoned here at St. John's--
so St. John must be doing his work, right?)
Also John is patron saint for art dealers, authors, writers, bookbinders, booksellers, engravers, friendships, lithographers, painters, printers, publishers, papermakers, theologians and ...well, you get the idea.
St. John the Apostle and Evangelist keeps busy!
We can certainly look at saints as extraordinary people.
Unsurpassed examples of holiness and faithfulness.
But the New Testament calls us to see saints
as all those who believe in Jesus Christ and strive to follow.
Believers past and present and future.
We remember them all today
as we celebrate All Saints Day.
The altar hangings, the vestments have all been changed to white--
that tells us that today is a feast day,
even more of a great celebration than the great celebration
we celebrate with Holy Eucharist every week.
I read a wonderful story this week by Richelle Thompson
about a woman named Faye.
Faye was known for laundering money.
At her small, rural church
Faye’s job was to collect the offering.
After the service, Faye took the collection home to her house
(Now this is a BIG BIG no! no! in our modern day audit-conscious churches!)
but it’s what Faye did--
and she hid the collection--cash and checks--
in her laundry hamper
until she could make the drive into town to deposit the collection
in the church’s account at the bank.
On occasion Faye would accidentally wash the collection
with the rest of her laundry.
The ink would run off the checks.
But Faye would just call and ask how much someone had given
and then she would fill that amount back onto the check.
Small town. Small church. Small bank.
But big, big love and trust.
Even when Faye was in her 90‘s,
she kept up with the collection
and she never failed to help with the dishes after a potluck dinner
and she knew the name of not just the adults,
but every single child in her church.
Faye did not martyr herself to lions
or reform the worldwide Anglican Communion.
She simply showed up
to love and to serve.
A saint is a person of exceptional holiness.
That holiness may be recognized by the entire world,
by the church,
or just by us.
A saint is a person who has made a difference in our faith journey.
Today in celebrating All Saints
we celebrate that great cloud of witnesses--
those who have gone before us,
those who still surround us,
and it is just fine,
to even celebrate
even our own little witness amongst the crowd.
A reporter was assigned to do a story on Mother Teresa.
For several weeks he followed her,
shadowing her from morning until night--
sometimes into the night--
as she went about her work.
At the end of his time with Mother Teresa,
as he was preparing to leave,
the reporter thanked her and said to her, quite honestly,
“I wouldn’t do what you do for a million dollars.”
To which she quickly replied, “Me neither!”
The saints of God are not motivated my money.
The saints of God are motivated my overwhelming, unconditional love.
Love for God. Love for one another.
Take time today to give a shout out to the saints in your life.
For those saints we love but see no longer,
say a prayer of thanksgiving.
Remember them always in your prayers.
Oh, how our lives have been blessed by the saints of God!
And if any of your saints are still alive,
make time today
to actually say thank you.
Tell them what their witness of faith has meant to you.
How it has changed your life.
Call them on the phone.
Send them an email or a Facebook message.
Write them a letter.
Go knock on their door this afternoon and tell them.
Give a shout out to the saints.
To the saints throughout history
but especially to the saints
that have surrounded and blessed your own life.
Today we also need to celebrate the saints that planted this parish,
the saints who have nurtured it for over 100 years,
the saints that still plant and prune
and tend this little plot of holy ground.
The saints that made a place and a space for us to grow as witnesses
to God’s love.
For all the saints,
may we give thanks.