In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

I know I feel like I say this a lot, but today is one of my favorite Sunday’s out of the entire year to preach. The Sunday after Pentecost is always dedicated to the memory of All Saints. Today we remember those men, women, and children, known and unknown, who have entirely dedicated themselves to the Lord, who have taken the life of the Christ upon themselves. The Saints shine as radiant beacons of Christ in the world. They are those who have fulfilled the words of St Paul – “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” They have worked out the words of our Lord – “the Kingdom of God is within you.” As we heard in this morning’s Gospel – the Saints are those who have confessed Christ before all men, who have loved Him more than all else, who have taken up their cross and followed Christ. We also heard from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews that wonderful list of the activities of the lives of the holy – from subduing kingdoms to being persecuted to raising the dead.

I really would like to point out two things this morning, although very related topics. The first is to the question, why do we commemorate the Saints? We remember the Saints in most of our prayers and services, and it’s good sometimes to remember why. That question is perfectly answered by the positioning of today’s feast, it’s relation to Holy Pentecost. [one of my favorite statements ever]: The Saints stand as proof to the world of the reality of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was sent down to lead and to guide the Apostles, to perfect them in Truth, to continually guide them into all Truth. The fact that we have had people perfected in Christ for the last 2,000 years is a revelation to us – they remind us of Pentecost, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they call us to that relationship with Christ that He also has called us to. It’s a beautiful thing to commemorate the Saints – they are what we are called to be. They are the great examples for us that what Christ has called us to is not impossible. If we read and take to heart the Gospels, the life Christ has called us to, we will cry out with the Apostles – who can do this? Of course, our Lord says – no man can do these things, but with Christ all things are possible. By the grace of God, with His mercy and His help, we too can be filled with the Holy Spirit, perfected for righteousness, living in the Kingdom while still in this world. We too can, and must, become Saints of God. This is one reason that I personally find reading the lives of the Saints to be so inspiring – they show us how God works in our lives to draw us to Himself.

The second thing I’d like us to think on comes from the reading we heard earlier from Hebrews – after listing the feats of the heros of the Old Covenant, Paul says: “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (11:40). They will not be made perfect apart from us. St. Paul reminds us that we are all called to be one – that apart from one another, none are made perfect. We are not islands on the earth, rather all of us together form the Body of Christ. It is a great mystery, but something we hear about in various places in the New Testament – for instance, when we’re taught that each of us has a particular part to play in the Body, like hands or feet or lungs or heart – and that the Body doesn’t function properly if we are not all doing our part. If a limb is injured, then the whole body suffers. If we are not all striving to be Saints – to be perfected in Christ – then the Church doesn’t operate at optimum potential, which means that the mission of Christ in the world is in some way being hampered.

And so St. Paul ends with encouragement – “Therefore we also [like all of the saints he mentioned in the first section of the reading], since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [the saints!], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2). And we then are called to join Christ at the right hand of the Father, we are called to run the race, to lay aside all sin, to be perfected in Christ, to join that great cloud of witnesses. We remember that cloud of All Saints today, we take encouragement from their witness, and [as we’re preparing now to sing] let us lay aside all earthly cares that we may seek and receive the King of All.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Matthew Jackson