Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered on the Feast of All Saints
November 1, 2020
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
Revelation 7:9-17 & Matthew 5:1-12
“What Do You Mean I’m a Saint?”
Two spectacular events in the life of our church are taking place today!
One is All Saints’ Day. Traditionally for Protestants, All Saints’ is when we remember the people we have loved and lost. It’s a time to remember All the Saints
On All Saints’ we proclaim our hope in Christ’s love, and we talk about what is called the “Communion of Saints” transcending time and place, of which we are a part. That’s a confusing phrase, but to simplify it, by Communion of Saints we just mean this: all who have taught us by their lives how to live faithfully, who have given their lives for the sake of the Good News, and now live in God’s nearer presence, encouraging us, and interceding there for us.
The other major event today is: Stewardship or In-gathering Sunday.
Over the past month you’ve seen and heard videos from various members talking about the difference SAC has had on their life. Because, my friends the point we’ve tried to make is that stewardship is about more than money. Instead, stewardship is about life, and it’s about taking every good thing you have been given, and being a good steward of it, which in 21st century terms just means being a good manager.
Stewardship is about recognizing what God gives us and then deciding to use it well. Our time, our talents, our treasure…no matter what we have, we make the choice.
Now, these two events had to fall on the same Sunday this year. That made me a little uneasy at first. Money is hard enough to talk about. Money and the memory of people we have loved is even harder. And I didn’t want anyone to think we had done this deliberately to try to emotionally manipulate anyone into giving more.
But as I thought about it, I really came to appreciate the beauty of talking about stewardship and talking about our whole lives. I’ll tell you why.
One of the traditional readings for All Saints’ is the Beatitudes, which you just heard. Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the merciful. In other words, blessed are people who, in reality, are nothing like me. I want to be all those things, but I stumble on a daily basis.
And on All Saints’ my flaws are front and center. Martin Luther said that we are all simultaneously both saint and sinner, but I can testify that my saint is far outweighed by my sinner. And this talk of saints…those are the holy people, the ones who seem to walk around with halos on their heads. That’s not me.
But our faith says something a little different. We are all imperfect. We also teach that when we die, we don’t become angels like Hallmark tells you.
On the day when we will leave this life, we do not have to fear. Because we all belong to a merciful God who has given us extraordinary grace.
One of the defining features of saints is not that they were these great, perfect, worker of miracles, but that they were people. They were good, honest, hard-working people who didn’t get it right every time, but who taught the value of trying again, of keeping on, people who remind us that God loves us no matter what.
And so, that means that we, you and I, are Saints-in-training, whether we believe we are worthy of that title or not.
God has given you this life. This “one wild and precious life”. All that we are entrusted with, God entrusts to us to manage, care for, use, and steward to live full abundant lives, and to meet our neighbors’ needs near and far as God’s hands and feet in the world.
~ Fr. Joseph Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church