This sunday is the observation of All Saints Day. All Saints is a relatively new holiday or feast day for United Methodist to observe as well as other American Protestant traditions. It has long been a tradition of the Apostolic churches, i.e Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, but for most main line protestants in America who hail from the WWII generation as well as the Boomers, its a new practice, along with Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Midnight Mass (Christmas Eve Communion). It's an important and valuable practice that helps to instruct Christians of all ages in the truth that, like Rome, the church was not built in a day, but was built by the generations of Witnesses that gave, worked and even died for the faith. All Saints is our opportunity to remember them and it is also our chance to remember each other.
Hebrews doesn't simply remind us of the hero's thats come before, but also the hero's to our left and to our right. Together these are the great cloud of witnesses that surround us and that encourage and support us as we struggle to be Christ-bearers to a new generation.So with that, one must ask what is at the heart of this faith that makes it so worth giving for.
Everything, mechanical, technological, organic and biological has a center or core... heart if you will. The church is a body and like any body there must be a heart and a blood stream, a way to transport oxygenated blood from the heart to the extremities. Without this pumping system the body dies. So what then is at the heart of our faith and what, or better yet, who is it's life blood?
The sermon on the plain, notice I said plain and not mount. Why? Because in Luke's account the sermon was preached on a plain, a grassy meadow in stead of a mount or hill. What else is significant about this account of Jesus' most popular sermon is the audience. In Luke's account Jesus is speaking directly to the 12 and any other listeners are simply coincidental. In this passage Jesus is teaching the 12 what is at the heart of this new faith. At the heart is a love, a compassion and an acceptance of those whom society has deemed unworthy, inadmissible, unclean and unaccepted. At the heart of this teaching is a way of life that passively resist the evil around it. At the heart of this new way is a life that embraces everyone, even ones enemies and one that does not judge and a life that is built upon an eternal foundation of hope. This is the heart of Christianity and the bloodline, the life blood of this new faith that pumps from the heart is the disciples, both the 12 and every disciple that has come after them.
So many have come before us, pumping and working and striving to continue to keep that heart beating and All Saints day is a specific day to remember them. We also need to remember that we, the saints alive, are a vital part of the blood system and that it is our job now to continue feeding that heart and drawing life from that heart to dying church. We often ask ourselves at Charge Conferences, Annual conference and General Conference, why are we dying? The answer...the body simply it's getting enough blood from the heart. We have forgotten whats at the heart, we have forsaken the sacrifice and commitment of those who came before us.Will you continue to be part the bloodline, will you up hold the heritage, will you further the cause?
A prayer for All Saints