For All the Saints, Possibly

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This Sunday we celebrate the feast of All Saints. It is the day when we name our dead, and celebrate their lives. It is the feast day in the church for which we, All Saints, are named. Our bishop will be here to confirm and receive people who have reaffirmed their faith, people who have agreed to take up the torch of mercy, compassion, well-being and dignity passed down through the generations; the life of the baptized in short. To take up such a life always involves a choice. This is not an issue of belief. This is an issue of choice. We must choose to stand against evil. We must choose to respect the dignity of every human being. We must choose to do justice. And the bishop, our chief pastor, blesses such a profound choice.

This choice that our confirmands will made this Sunday is an outward and visible sign of the choice all of us must make every day. The scribes of the gospels call it “denying oneself.” It is a choice to live for the other, for the greater good, for a world of equality, welcome and justice; for a world that resembles God’s dream of creation, God’s dream of which prophets and artists and the mindful have spoken over the ages. We call those who made their mark in working for such a world, “saints.” They are us. We are their progeny.

The writer of Matthew’s gospel tells us to strive for “perfection” in this life. It is unfortunate that perfection is the word we have chosen as a translation of the Greek. For us post-modern westerners we are obsessed with the word, obsessed with the need of “getting it right,” or at least with putting forth an appearance of getting it right. Our consumerist culture feeds such an obsession. Getting it right in our world has to do with getting more and more, better and better. It is a lonely endeavor.

But the word in the Greek means “completion,” “fulfillment.” And these are not ends, these are words that imply process. Completion and fulfillment are not ends, but words describing the process of life itself. And this is not speaking of “my” completion or fulfillment, but the world’s completion, the world’s fulfillment. As the faithful, we choose to join the process of the world’s redemption, to join the process of bringing God’s gracious life to bear for those who have been left out, for those who are lost. The life of faith is a journey that is about completion and fulfillment, but one that it is never completed or fulfilled. For me that is good news, because it means that life is always about possibility. At my stage of life, that is an apt metaphor for God… as apt as any…. That God is possibility…. The possibility of love, the process of love…. So, in our choosing, we are all saints along the way, a way in which all is possible… not perfect, but gloriously possible.

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Rob Gray
November 3rd, 2017

Amen, my brother.

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