Sermons 2008
All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

All Saints A 2008                             Mt:23:1-12; 5:1-12


The Church through the centuries has in her wisdom dedicated seasons and months to various mysteries and saints in order to focus our devotion

and deepen our faith.  It is a way of making sure we never lose sight of the central facts of the Faith - the Incarnation, Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Triumph of Our Lord.  I thought I would spend a little time on November, a pivotal transitional month in the calendar of the church year.


            From the earliest centuries, as the days grew ever shorter and darker - the leaves fall from the trees and all seems shrouded - the Church has her children focus on death and the life of the world to come. The month begins with the great feast of All Saints where we remember all those who, whether named or not, have lived and died for and in Our Lord, the blessed of Saint Matthew’s Beatitudes.  Children are often baptized on this day in the hope that they may follow lives of saintly grace -- as the beloved hymn says: "I mean to be one too!"


Anglicans do not formally canonize saints but in our calendar of saints we claim all those great heroes, now over 200.  (See pp 19-30 of the Prayer Book. – later). We name our churches and our children after them and ask for their prayers.  We add more at each General Convention and their lives are models for us all. Their prayers for us are invaluable.


           The very next day is the Commemoration of all faithful departed or All Souls Day. On this day, the faithful visited the cemeteries and shrines of their loved ones - and often cleaned them of the dying vegetation of the year and prayed for their souls.  Much like the sudden utter transformation of the church from the somber purple of Lent and empty bareness of Good Friday to the gleaming white glory of Easter.  In the great high churches on all souls day everything is shrouded, the flowers gone and the vestments and hangings are solemn black, the echoes of trimnph are gone and replaced by unaccompanied plainsong and the ancient texts of the Requiem.  It can be a life-changing moment.


In most small parish churches especially in Virginia we combine the two days and commemorate our departed loved ones as we also remember the saints. If All Saints occurs on a weekday, we move it to Sunday, as we do today. I suspect we lose something in the process.


In some strict protestant communities praying for the dead is anathema.  I have heard that in the Diocese of Virginia some clergy early in the last century refused to use prayers printed in the Prayer Book at funerals because it was a "vain and superstitious" idea that we could actually pray for and help the dead. Thankfully this extreme position has long disappeared in the life of the Episcopal Church - but we lose something by not observing All Souls Day on the next Sunday.  Most of us know the power of prayer and so we ask for the prayers of those we leave behind when we go from this world.  My experience at the bedsides of the dying is that last rites, the prayers for the dying, can be helpful to families and dying alike.


On the second Sunday of November the Church in the Western World has traditionally observed Remembrance Sunday.  We seem to acknowledge November 11 – Armistice now Veterans Day - with a national holiday and sales at the Malls.  On that second Sunday in November we can pray for a rededication of our National Life and remember before God the Fallen in its defense.  Before the Throne of Heaven all the Fallen of whatever conflict and whatever 'side', "shine like stars".


The third Sunday of November in the mother Church of England focused on the Harvest and on bringing in the Holy Souls to Heaven as God's own harvest - from which the idea of our own Thanksgiving Day may have come.


The last Sunday of November is the Feast of Christ the King.  In the stately rhythm of the Christian Year, everything leads to this day. On this day we hail our living Savior as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, ­the Maker of all things, the Judge of all people. We pray that with the saints we too will go through the Golden Gates and cast down our crowns before the Throne in an eternity of wonder, love and praise.


Of course the whole thing begins again the next week on Advent Sunday, sometimes in November also as it is this year.  We hear the story of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and prepare - not for the Baby - but for the return of the King of Glory. (1)






1.  Adapted from F. Powell Johann, Jr., in Loaves and Fishes:  The Newsletter of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Miller’s Tavern, Virginia, for November 2008.