This a big Sunday coming up for this Sunday me in a few ways. First, the Bishop is coming and is going to preach and participate in the worship on Sunday. Having the Bishop present at his Cathedral always adds something as well as an extra layer of busy-ness.
Second, it is All Saints Day in the life of the Church and thus is the anniversary of my ordination to the sacred priesthood – something to celebrate – six years of full time priesthood. I have spent the week, thinking on and reflecting on the whole of my ministry, the people I have ministered to, the people who have ministered to me, the kindness and the generosity of communities and individuals. It has made me think of how faithful God has been through some many things over the course of the... ummm 23 years, I have been in ministry: first as a Church Army Captain and then as a deacon and priest.
Most importantly, it is a festival Sunday this Sunday and it is All Saints Day. and there is baptism in the service this coming Sunday. I love to do baptisms. It was 17 years ago this past Sunday October 27th that I did my very first baptism – my oldest son. He is now working on his own ministry and being a leader in the wider community. His younger brother is starting on that very same path. I baptized him, with the Bishop present on Advent Sunday, nearly 11 years ago.
Why is this important? Because these are all the things that happen in the life of all of God’s saints and yes we are becoming one of those kind of people.
Every single one of God’s saints, moreover, has their numbers. Numbers have a way of reminding us of whom we are and where we have been. Numbers can guide us to where we need to be and the things we need to do in terms of a day to day basis. We tend to think of saints as being dead people. Dead people who lived long ago and who now live in stain glass windows. They are people whom the sun shines through. If you take a walk around the Cathedral, one of the things you will notice is who we remember in terms of holy people – lives that are examples to us, that we might be faithful in the risk of faith in our moment. These are memorials to the bishops, clergy and spouses who have served in this diocese and have gone on to glory along with those who have remained nameless but still are n=know to God. We need to become and are becoming by the grace of the living God, those kinds of people.
The ambition of the Christian life is not to have a monument that needs to be maintained on this earth. Nor is it the goal to have people remember you and softly whisper your name with sweet affection every time that they think of you. The goal is to be faithful to God through Christ so that you and others can get home. We need saintly people to encourage, guide and sustain us, whether they are here with us in the body or are at home with the Lord. That means the presence of some saintly people are going to move us, cajole us, afflict us so that we might be move for God and the sake of God’s elect, God’s people and his Church. The Gospeol must comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Maybe the most important thing about this Sunday is that we will come together and enter together into the presence of God and a great cloud of witnesses, be encouraged and we will learn to see the kingdom of God extended and praise God for that with heart, soul and voice. That is worth celebrating.