Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Advent

November 30, 2014


1 Corinthians 1.3-9; Mark 13.24-37

+ Defining moments in our lives sometimes happen in very strange ways. I don’t know if it’s because we’re celebrating the beginning of a new Church Year today, or because we are now officially in the holiday season, or what it is, but I’ve been strangely reflective these last several days. And I found myself reflective on some of those defining moments in my own life.

There have been a few, let me tell you.  But, one of my first defining moments—and one that I think still has a lot of consequences in my life, in my own personal perspective on things—was one that happened when I was in the fourth grade.

When I was in the fourth grade, I had a teacher call me out of class one afternoon. We know what being called into hallway means. It’s never a good thing. In this case, this particular called me out into the hall way and proceeded to have a very intense “come to Jesus” moment with me.

“Jamie,” she said. “I just don’t understand you. You seem smart. You seem articulate. You have quick come-backs on things. You read an amazing amount. But none of that reflects in your grades.”

Not so bad, right?  Oh, but wait…

“You’re sloughing,” she said. “There’s no other way to put it. Actually, there is. You’re lazy.”

Now, for some reason, that word, “Lazy,” hit me like a ton of bricks. Or maybe I should say, it hit me like a slap across the face. And although I could not or would not admit it then, it was just what I needed.  Her words woke me up. I became a more committed student after that talk, as painful as it was.

In our Gospel reading for today, we get a very similar moment.  It’s not quite an accusation of laziness on us. But it is a kind of verbal alarm clock.  And we hear it in two different ways:

“Keep alert.”

“Keep awake.”

Jesus says it just those two ways in our reading from Mark: It seems simple enough.

“Keep alert” and “keep awake.” Or to put it more bluntly, “Wake up!”

But is it simple?  Our job as Christians is sometimes no more than this.  It is simply a matter of staying awake, of being attentive or being alert, of not being lazy.  Our lives as Christians are sometimes simply responses to being spiritually alert.

For those of us who are tired, who are worn down by life, who spiritually or emotionally fatigued, our sluggishness sometimes manifests itself in our spiritual life and in our relationship with others.  When we become impatient in our watching, we sometimes forget what it is we are watching for.  We sometimes, in fatigue, fail to see.

For us, that “something” that we are waiting for, that we keeping alert for, is none other than that glorious day of Christ, that we hear St. Paul talk about in his epistle this morning.  That glorious day of Jesus comes when, in our attentiveness, we see the rays of the light breaking through to us in our tiredness and in our fatigue.  It breaks us through to us in various ways.  We, who are in this sometimes foggy present moment, peering forward, sometimes have this moments of wonderful spiritual clarity.  Those moments are true moments of being alert—of being spiritually awake.

Sometimes we have it right here, in church, when we gather together. I have shared with each of you at times when those moments sometimes come to me. They sometimes come to me here at this altar.

One of the most common ways they happen for me is when I have broken that break and we are singing the Agnus Dei—the Lamb of God.  As we sing, and I have had moments in which I look down at that broken Bread and that chalice, I realize: yes, this IS the Lamb of God. This is Jesus.  This is the spiritual goal of my life.  This IS the Day of Our Lord Jesus.  Jesus has truly come to us this day.

This is what it means to be awake, to not be lazy. Certainly, in a very real sense, today—this First Sunday of Advent— is a precursor of that one glorious day of the Lord Jesus that St. Paul talks about.  But the rays of that glorious future day also break through to us now when, in our attentiveness, we recognize Jesus in here at the altar and in those we serve as Christians.  Those rays of the Day of Christ break through when we can see Jesus in all those we meet and serve.

In this beautiful Sarum blue Advent season, we are reminded that the day of Christ is truly about dawn upon us.  The rays of the bright sun-lit dawn are already starting to lighten the darkness of our lives.  We realize, in this moment, that, despite all that has happened, despite the disappointments, despite the losses, despite the pain each of us has had to bear, the ray of Christ’s Light breaks through to us in that darkness and somehow, makes it all better.

But this is doesn’t happen in an instant.  Oftentimes that light is a gradual dawning in our lives.  Oftentimes, it happens gradually so we can adjust to it, so it doesn’t blind us.  Sometimes, our awakening is in stages, as though waking from a deep, slumbering sleep.

Our job as Christians is somewhat basic.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  But I am saying that it is basic.  Our job, as Christians, especially in this Advent time, is to be alert. To be awake.  Spiritually and emotionally.  And, in being alert, we must see clearly.

We cannot, when that Day of Christ dawns, be found to lazy and sloughing. Rather, when that Day of our Lord Jesus dawns, we should greet it joyfully, with bright eyes and a clear mind. We should run toward that dawn as we never have before in our lives.  We should let the joy within us—the joy we have hid, we have tried to kill—the joy we have not allowed ourselves to feel—come pouring forth on that glorious day.  And in that moment, all those miserable things we have been dealt—all that loss, all that failure, all that unfairness—will dissipate like a bad dream on awakening.

“Keep alert,” Jesus says to us.

“Keep awake.”

It’s almost time.

Keep awake because that “something” you have been longing for all your spiritual life is about to happen.  It is about to break through into our lives.  And it is going to be glorious.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve

November 26, 2014

Deuteronomy 8.7-18

+ OK. This might not some as a big surprise to some of you. I know it will definitely not come as a surprise for Pastor Mark.

But…I am a bit of a curmudgeon. Especially when it comes to the holiday season. I know.  That’s sacrilege to some people.

“But, Father Jamie,” I hear people say. “It’s just a magical time of the year.”

I think magic, in this case, may be in the eye of the beholder. I’ve never been a big fan of the commercial aspects of either Thanksgiving or Christmas. And, I’m sure it’s no surprise to people here who know me: the food at this time of the year does not really appeal to me all that much, even before I became vegan.

But…before you judge me too harshly (and I’ll let you do that in this case), I think, idealistically, there are many positive things that can be mustered from this holiday season. 

Tonight is an example of what we can do. I have always loved the Thanksgiving Eve service. Back in the days when we were on rotation with St. Mark’s and Elim and the Shepherd of the Valley Moravian, it was great to worship together and to ponder a bit this wonderful thing we do when we give thanks to God. Now, you’ve heard no doubt many sermons and Facebook memes and other comments about how important it is to give thanks for all the great things in our lives.

A few weeks ago, on Stewardship Sunday here at St. Stephen’s, I shared that it is, of course, a good thing to give thanks to God for all those good things. But I said, on that Sunday, that we must take a step further. Paying lip service in gratitude for the things we’ve been granted is not enough.

Essentially, we are called to actually live out our Thanksgiving.  We should be a living, breathing jumble of gratitude at all times.

Tonight, though, I’m going to even take that all one step even further.  I think it’s a good thing to give thanks for all those things we’ve asked for a received.  And maybe even give thanks for those things we’ve asked for and did not receive.

(If you think about it, you know I mean. If we prayed at any time in our lives for a particular boyfriend or girlfriend and did not receive them, and later found out that they were pretty horrible people—yes, we can give thanks for those things as well. Or, maybe it was a job that we wanted—a job we felt we were perfectly made for—and we prayed it, but it went to someone else. Later, we found that job was actually quite horrible. The person whose position we pray for ended up having horrible time. Those are examples of things we didn’t get when we prayed for them.  ).

But, one thing we often don’t find ourselves giving thanks for are those moments of grace in our lives.  Now, grace is something we hear a lot about in church, but few of us really “get” grace. But I love to preach about grace. Or, at least, my definition of grace. For me, grace is something we receive from God that we neither asked for nor fully anticipated in our lives. I usually talk about grace at weddings, because, for the most part, marriage is an example of grace in our midst. People come into our lives we don’t ask for, we don’t even know how to ask for, but who are still given to us.  And the joy and contentment they bring is the greatest gift any of us can ever expect.

Children are another example of grace. No one fully realizes the blessings a child will give to one’s life until they come into our midst.  There are countless other graces we have in our lives that we are no doubt thankful for. Especially in the cases of marriage and children, these graces change our lives. We are never again who were before they came into our lives. And that, I think, is the sign of true Grace. True grace transforms us and makes us different—and hopefully better—than we were before.


In our reading from the  Hebrew scriptures tonight, we get a very beautiful image of grace.  In it, we find God bringing in the Israelites into a “good land”—a land of beauty and abundance, where all their needs are taken care of.  What’s so beautiful about this scripture is that, even if the Israelites would’ve know to pray for something like this, it still would not even come close to what God actually provides.  See. Grace.

In many ways, this scripture describes how God grants us grace as well.  Probably the greatest grace in our lives—and the one we might not fully appreciate—is Jesus himself. For the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness, hungry and anxious, God provided them a glorious land of abundance—full of food and drink.

For us, this food we receive is more substantial. Our food is the Bread which comes to us to feed us in such a way that we will never feel hungry again. It is the Bread that will not feed this body, which will die on us and be disposed of, but the Bread which will feed our souls, which will feed that part of us which will live forever. The Bread we receive is a bread we could never, on our own, even comprehended.  The Bread we receive is Jesus himself.  And it is Jesus—that truly amazing grace in our midst—whom we should be most thankful for.

Jesus’ presence in our life, the fact that in him we see God—God who came to us like food in the midst of aimless wandering, in flesh like our flesh, and who, by dying,  destroyed that which we feared the most—death—that is something we didn’t ask for.

We are probably unable to even know how to ask for such a gift. And yet, unasked for, Jesus came to us and fed us with his own Body. Unasked for, God provided us with life in a way we still don’t fully appreciate or understand.  Jesus came to us, like food in a glorious land after we had wandered about in our personal wilderness, and fed us in a way we didn’t even realized we could be fed.

This is the ultimate grace in our midst.  This is the ultimate gift for us.

So, tomorrow, as we gather with our loved ones, as we take that time to inventory the blessings and all the good things in our lives, let us not forget to be thankful for that ultimate Grace in our lives—Jesus who is everything we need and long for and strive for.

Jesus—our food in the wilderness.

Jesus—our living Bread of life.

And let us thank God for the Grace above Graces, for the Grace that that is God.





Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christ the King

November 23, 2014


Matthew 25.31-46

+ So, this is obviously not a question you hear too often, but: How do you know if you’re a church geek?

You know how I know I’m a church geek? Because these last few days, even though I’ve been sick, the most persistent buzz I’ve been hearing from my Facebook friends has been whether or not we should be celebrating this Sunday as Christ the king Sunday.

The argument has been that this is not an “official” feast in the Episcopal Church. Although the scriptures for today and the collect we just prayed would show that a pretty argument can be made that this should be celebrated as Christ the King Sunday, it is not officially defined as such according to the Prayer Book.

See, church geek stuff.

Let’s face it, most of us really just don’t care.  And I like celebrating this Sunday as Christ the King Sunday, because preaching about the Kingdom is a good thing.  Also, it’s an important Sunday for another reason.  It is the last Sunday in that very long, green season of Pentecost.

Today, for the Church, it is New Year’s Eve.  The old church year of Sundays—Church Year A—ends today.  The new church year—Church Year B—begins next Sunday, on the First Sunday of Advent.  So, what seems like an ending today is renewed next week, with the coming of Advent, in that revived sense of longing and expectation that we experience in Advent.

Today, we also get to hear Jesus tell us that story of the sheep and the goats.  Now, I actually love this parable—not because of its threat of punishment (which everyone gets hung up on), not because of its judgment.  I love this story because there is something beautiful and subtle going on just beneath the surface, if you take the moment to notice.  And that subtle aspect of this story is this:

If you notice, the reward is given not to people who work for the reward.  The reward is not given to people who help the least of their brethren because they know they will gain the reward.  The reward is granted to those who help the least of their brethren simply because the least need help. The reward is for those who have no regard or idea that a reward awaits them for doing such a thing.

Now I don’t think I need to tell anyone here who the least of our brethren are.  The least of our brethren are the ones who are hungry, who are thirsty, who are naked, who are sick and who are in prison. I think this ties in beautifully to our own ideas of why we do what we do as followers of Jesus.  Why do we do what we do, we must ask ourselves?  Do we do these things because we think we’re going to get a reward for doing them?  Or do we do these things because by doing them we know it goes for a greater reward than anything we ourselves could get?

In our Gospel reading today, we find that the Kingdom of God is prepared for those who have been good stewards, to tie into our theme from last Sunday, which was our Stewardship Sunday.  It is prepared for those who have been mindful of what has been given to them and have been mindful of those around them in need.

For us, we need to realize that the Kingdom is prepared for us as well.  It is prepared for us who have sought to be good stewards without any thought of reward.  It is prepared for us who have simply done what we are called to do as followers of Jesus.

For us, in our own society, we find that these same terms found in Jesus’ parable have a wider definition.  Hungry for us doesn’t just mean hungry for food.  It means hungry for love, for healing, for wholeness.

Thirsty doesn’t just mean for water.  Thirsty for us means thirsty for fairness or justice or peace.

Naked doesn’t just mean without clothing.  It means, for us, to be stripped to our core, to be laid bare spiritually and emotionally and materially.

To be sick, doesn’t necessarily mean to be sick with a disease in our bodies.  It is means to be sick in our hearts and in our relationships with others.

And we all know that the prisons of our lives sometimes don’t necessarily have walls or bars on the doors.  The prisons of our lives are sometimes our fears, our prejudices, our addictions, our very selves.

To not go out and help those who need help is to be arrogant, to be selfish, to be headstrong.  To not do so is to turn our backs on following where Jesus leads us.  Because Jesus leads us into that place wherein we must love and love fully and give and give freely—of ourselves and of what we have been given.

I like that because that is definitely what we have all been striving to do here at St. Stephen’s.  We practice our radical hospitality to everyone who comes through our doors.  And, I think, we accept everyone who comes through those doors fully.

Here, we not only welcome people, but I think we allow people to be the people God created them to be—without judgment, without prejudice, just as the Kingdom no doubt will be.  And is.  

Again, that brings us back to Jesus’ parable.  The meaning of this story is this: If you do these things—if you feed the hungry, if you give drink to the thirsty, if you welcome the stranger, if you clothe the naked, if you visit the sick and imprisoned—if you simply respond to one another as just human beings—if you do these things without thought of reward, but do them simply because you, as a Christian, are called to do them, the reward is yours.

The Kingdom is not only awaiting us in the next world. The Kingdom, when we do these things, is here.  Right now. Right in our midst.

As Christians, we should haven’t to think about doing any of those things.  They should be like second nature to us.  We should be doing them naturally, instinctively.  For those of us who are hungry or thirsty, who feel like strangers, who are naked, sick and imprisoned—and at times, we have been in those situations—we find Christ in those rays of hope that break through into our lives.

It is very similar to the hope we are clinging to in this moment as we enter Advent—that time in which the light of Christ is seen breaking into the encroaching darkness of our existence.  And we—in those moments when we feed the hungry, when we give drink to the thirsty, when we welcome the stranger, when we clothe the naked, when we visit the sick and imprisoned—in those moments, we become that light in the darkness, that hope in someone else’s life.  We embody Christ and Christ’s Kingdom when we become the conduits of hope.

So, as we celebrate the end of this liturgical year and set our expectant eyes on the season of Advent, let us not just be filled with hope.  Let us be a true reflection of Christ’s hope to this world. Let us be the living embodiment of that hope to those who need hope.  And in doing so, we too will hear those words of assurance to us:

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for….”


Sunday, November 16, 2014

23 Pentecost

Stewardship Sunday
November 16, 2014

The Baptism of Remy Haugen


Matthew 25.14-30

+ OK. I am really dating myself here. But, every time stewardship season rolls around, I am reminded of when pledge season would come to Public Television as a kid. I watched a lot of public television as a child. Whether it was Sesame Street, the Electric Company, Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood, 3-2-1 Contact, or any of the other shows on in the 1970s, it was by far my favorite station. Of course, back then, we only had, like, four stations .

But when Pledge Season rolled around and these shows were constantly interrupted by announcers asking for money, I often groaned aloud. The good thing about pledge season on Public Television was they oftentimes showed films and documentaries they didn’t show at other times of the year. Now I know I’ve preached about this before, but it’s worth preaching about multiple times.

One of the films I always looked forward to seeing again and again during Pledge Season was that wonderful cinematic classic, Auntie Mame.  I always loved watching Rosalind Russell in all her 1958 Technicolor glory. We, in the church, on this, our Stewardship Sunday, don’t get anything even close to Rosalind Russell or even Technicolor today. I could try, but I don’t think it’s gonna work.

Instead, we get the parable of the talents, of money lent and the reward awaiting those who were entrusted with the money, complete with its not-so-subtle wag of the finger at us.  Trust me, I did not purposely pick this scripture for today; it just happened to come up in the lectionary today.  

Actually, we got a lot more than that today. We have something more special than Rosalind Russell today. We get the baptism of Remy Haugen today. And we get a fine brunch served by our vestry today. So, all of that’s even better than Auntie Mame.

But our parable from the Gospel today is a good story for us.  Most of us can relate to it.  We understood how good it is to have people invest money for us and to receive more in return.  It certainly speaks in a very special way to us in this strange, scary and unstable financial environment in which we are living at this moment.

Of course, this parable isn’t really about money at all, as we probably have guessed.  The parable is about taking what we have—and in the case of today’s reading Jesus is talking about the Gospel—and working to expand it and return it back to God with interest.

We, as Christians, are called to just this: we are called to work, to do something with what we’ve been given. And the worse thing we can imagine is being called by that ugly word we discover in today’s Gospel: “lazy.”

Lazy is a word I hate.  None of us want to hear that word directed at us. It’s one the greatest insults I can think of directing at someone.

What is it we ultimately want to hear?  Is it that shaming admonition: “You wicked and lazy slave!”  Or do we want to hear: “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

Over and over again in Scripture, we find this one truth: God is not really ever concerned with what we have; but God is always concerned with what we do with what we have.  And we should always remind ourselves that it is not always an issue of money that we’re dealing with when we talk about what we have.   The rewards of this life include many other things other than money—an issue we sometimes forget about in our western capitalist society.

The fact is, God is not always concerned about who we are and what we do.  God is always concerned with what we do with who we are and what we do.  And when we’re lazy, we purposely forget this fact.  When we’re lazy, we think we can just coast.  We think we can just “get by.”  We think we can just give lip service to our gratitude and that is enough.  But it isn’t enough.

To be a "good and trustworthy” servant is take what we have and do something meaningful with it.  By doing something good, we are showing our gratitude for it.

In these weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we might find ourselves thinking about all the things in our lives we are thankful for.  And we might be expressing our thanks to God for those things.  But what God seems to want from us more than anything else is to let that thankfulness be lived out in our lives.

Today, at the baptism of Remy Haugen, we get to be reminded that, essentially, from that first moment when we became Christians in those waters of baptism, we are called to live out our thankfulness to God in our very lives.

Our thankfulness should not simply be the words coming from our mouths, but also the actions we do as Christians.  Our thankfulness should be in our stewardship—in the fact that we are thankful by sharing what we have been given.  And in that sharing, we find the true meaning of what it means to be gracious.

In that sharing, we find purpose and meaning in our lives.  In that sharing, we find contentment.

So, maybe in the end, we DO, on this Stewardship Sunday, get something somewhat like Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame.  Auntie Mame teaches us all a wonderful lesson—a lesson that, let’s face it, was radical even in that 1950s Technicolor world.  Mame, the radical, eccentric, outspoken, wealthy, party-loving matriarch of the story, learns a wonderful and powerful lesson by the end of the film.  Even after she loses her money in the Depression, after she loses her husband (Forrest Tucker) to an unfortunate mountain climbing accident in the Alps, even after facing her bigoted potential future in-laws—even
despite all the hardships life threw at her, she emerged from it all, glowing and self-assured and strong.  She emerged from it knowing that it wasn’t what she had, but what she did with what she had that made all the difference.  She emerged from it all with a gratitude that glows, in all its Technicolor wonder, on her face at the end of the film. What Mame had was integrity and love and compassion and, by sharing those things—love and integrity and compassion—she found herself.  She found in her life what truly mattered.

To see it from this perspective means to know full well that the things this life throws at us don’t defeat us.  We go through this life prepared when it gives us something extra.  Of course, we can take it and we can sit on it.  We can store it away and not let it gain interest.  And in the end, all we have is a moldering treasure—which really isn’t a treasure at all.

Or we can take a chance, we can invest it and, in investing it, we can spread it and share it. During this stewardship season, we are saying to ourselves, be grateful.  These are the things we have—our talents, our God-given abilities, the material blessings—and to be truly thankful for those things, we need to be grateful for them and to share them.  We can’t hoard them, we can’t hug them close and be afraid they will be taken from us.  And we can’t go through life with a complacent attitude—expecting that others are going to take of these things for us.

We must share what we have. And we must share what we have with dignity and self-assurance and with a graceful and grateful attitude.  We must not be the lazy slave who hoards what is given him, afraid to invest what he has.  We must instead be like the wise servant, the one is alert and prepared, the one who is truly gracious.  And if we are, we too will hear those words spoken to us—those words we all long to hear—“Well done, good and faithful one…enter into the joy of your master.”


Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Saints Sunday

November 2, 2014


1 John 3.1-3

+ Our confirmation class on Thursday nights have been, I have to say, a lot of fun.  Well, this past week, in our Confirmation class, we talked about saints. Actually, we talked about saints’ relics.  Relics are the bits and pieces of saints that are left behind them.

We talked about first-class relics. First class relics are actual pieces of saints. Like bones or pieces of bones. Second-class relics are things that came into contact with first class relics, like pieces of cloth or clothes the saint wore.

I was going to show the confirmation some of my first-class relics.  Then, I forgot. But, I didn’t forget this morning. I actually brought a first class relic this morning.

This is a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She was an American. She was raised an Episcopalian, but later converted to the Roman Catholic Church after the death of her husband and joined a convent and later founded her religious order, the Sisters of Charity. If you saw the play or the film, Doubt, that religious of nuns was the Sister of Charity, founded by St. Elizabeth.  She died in 1821.

And this is St. Elizabeth Anne Seton. Or a little piece of her, anyway.  This is a little piece of her bone.

I also posted a photo of my first-class relics on Facebook this week. And I mentioned that because I forgot about the relics at confirmation, we ended talked about saints whose relics were incorruptible—saints who never decomposed.  Well, a priest in the diocese asked, “Do you have an incorruptible saint on your property?”

I responded, “I am the incorruptible saint on our property.”

Well, today, in case you didn’t guess it, we are celebrating all the saints, corruptible or incorruptible.   We are celebrating all those saints that we know of, like the Virgin Mary and our own St. Stephen and St. Elizabeth. We celebrate those saints because they are held up to us as examples of how to live this sometimes difficult life we live as Christians.

And, let’s face it,  it is hard to be a Christian sometimes.  It is hard, as we all know, to follow Jesus, and to do what Jesus tells us to do—to love.  It is hard to be, as John says in our reading for today, the children of God, as Jesus himself is a Child of God.  The saints have shown this fact to us.  They have shown us how to be these very children of God.

We are also celebrating the saints we have personally known. We are celebrating the saints we have known who have come into our own lives—those people who have taught us about God and shown us that love does win out, again and again.  The saints in our own lives are those who have done it, who have shown us that we can be successful in following Jesus, even if they weren’t always successful at times in their own lives.

My favorite saints—both those celebrated by the larger church and those I have known in my own personal life—are the ones who were not, by any means, perfect, who failed, who messed up occasionally.  I like them because I’m like them.  I too have messed up.  I too have failed.  I too have failed in following Jesus and loving others.  See, I really am NOT the incorruptible saint at St. Stephen’s.  I, like all us, am corruptible.  

But what those saints show us is that it’s all right.  When we fail, we just get up again, brush ourselves off and keep going.  And what they show us more than anything else is that when we fail to love, we need to love even more and somehow, it is made right.

The other part of this morning that we are celebrating are the future saints in our midst.  The future saints?  Who could those possibly be?  Well, we are. We are those future saints.  Together, with the saints who have gone before us, we strive to follow Jesus, to love God and each other and to serve those we encounter.  We are the  future saints.  That’s how we should see ourselves. That is why we celebrate the saints with the different commemorations we have of them at our Wednesday night Eucharists throughout the year.  And that is why we celebrate them especially on Sundays like today.

We celebrate the saints because they lead the way for us.  They show us how to live this sometimes difficult life as Christians.  They show us in their successes and they show us in their failures.  

And we celebrate the saints as well because we too are the saints.  We are the future saints, who will one day be gathered around the altar of the Lamb, where we will partake of that glory without end.

You have heard me mention on countless occasions my very strong belief that the  “veil” that separates us from those who have gone on before us is a very thin one.  Even though it often seems like a very thick curtain at times.  But there are moments when that veil is sort of lifted and we can see that very little actually separates us from those saints who have gone on. This morning, we are actually able to see that veil lifted.  We will see it lifted in a few moments when we gather at the altar to celebrate the Eucharist.

What we do this morning is not an isolated act we do, here in St. Stephen’s Church in north Fargo on a cold morning in November of 2014.  Every time we do this, we do it with every Christian on this earth who also celebrates these mysteries.  And when we celebrate the Eucharist, all we are doing is joining, for this limited time, the worship that is going on in heaven for all eternity.

And in that moment, we know what our destiny is. Our destiny is sainthood. Our destiny is to be saints.  

Today is about those saints who have gone before. But it is also about us, here and now.  It is about their sainthood and our sainthood too.  And that is something to be thankful and to celebrate.

So, let us—the future saints of God—truly celebrate today.  Let us celebrate the saints who have gone on and who are still with us in various ways.  And let us, who remain, strive on. Let us continue on in our journey toward sainthood strengthened and certain of our destiny.