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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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All Saints Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Saints Sunday Year C RCL October 31, 2010

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1: 11-23
Luke 6:20-31

The Book of Daniel is supposedly set during the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C., but it was actually written about four hundred years later, during the reign of a terrible king named Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who desecrated the temple in Jerusalem in 167 B.C.

The four beasts represent the four empires which have conquered and oppressed the Jewish people. The Book of Daniel was written to encourage the people to persevere in a time of horrible persecution. The Book says that the day will come when those empires will fall, and “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.”

The Letter to the Ephesians was probably written by a follower of Paul and was addressed to a congregation in which Gentile Christians had become the majority, outnumbering Jewish Christians. The new faith was first proclaimed to the Jews, but then, after Peter had his vision of a sheet coming down with all the different foods on it and God saying, “Kill and eat,” the apostles realized that the new faith was for everyone.

Paul is saying that there are no longer two distinct groups, Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, but all are one. In the Letter to the Galatians, he says, “In Christ there is no slave nor free, no Jew nor Greek, but we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The people are commended for their faith and love. Commentator Audrey West writes, “These are the building blocks with which their identity as the people of God will be formed.” (West, New Proclamation RCL C, 2010, p. 264.)

In the early Church, all the people were addressed as saints. The literal translation from the Greek is “Holy ones.” This language links with the passage from Daniel.

Now we come to that most familiar passage, the Beatitudes. Luke’s Beatitudes are sometimes called the Sermon on the Plain, in contrast to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Luke’s Jesus is on level ground with all the people. He has just called the apostles. Now he is giving them the blueprint for his vision of their life together and the life of the human family.

Blessed—happy—are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated and excluded. Matthew spiritualizes the blessings—blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. But Luke’s Jesus says happy are the literally poor, hungry, and marginalized. Scholars make it very clear that Jesus is not trying to say that poverty is wonderful.

And then the woes. Woe to those who have plenty to eat, who are laughing now. Woe to those of whom everyone speaks well. Here is that reversal again. Back to the Magnificat: he casts down the mighty from their seat and exalts the humble and meek. William Barclay says that these blessings and woes are “like a series of bombshells.” Scholars tell us that these blessings and woes take the accepted standards and turn them upside down.

Audrey West writes, “Jesus announces a blessing upon all those people whom nobody wants to be.”

But woe to those who have everything, plus the universal praise and admiration to go with it. Why is Jesus saying this? Because when we have it all, it is so easy to think that is all there is. It is also easy to enter into the delusion that we got it all on our own strength. When we are in positions of prestige, people defer to us and tell us what we want to hear. But is that all there is to life?

In the world’s terms, compared to our brothers and sisters in Haiti or Bangladesh, we are wealthy. Does that mean that we are doomed?

I don’t think so. But we need to remember that God’s shalom involves a leveling of the playing field. God wants every one of God’s children to have enough to sustain a creative life.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who abuse you. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This kind of love is not a feeling or a sentiment. It is a spiritual discipline. Jesus calls us to exercise toward others the unconditional love he gives to us. If people hurt us or oppose us, we are not to retaliate. We are to wish the best for them and we are to do all we can to help them to realize their full potential as God’s beloved children. We are called to extend God’s love to everyone, even our enemies. A tall order, but this the level of love exemplified by the saints whose lives we celebrate today.

This is the eve of All Saints Day, All Hallows’ Eve. We are remembering that we are part of that great cloud of witnesses, all the saints, little s saints and big S Saints—all who have gone before us, all who are here now, and all who will come after us. They have all run the race just as we are running it now. We are all following the same blueprint. The one laid out by Jesus in his life and ministry, and especially in the Beatitudes.

We are the Body of Christ. We are knit together in love and faith. We are his hands reaching out in healing and welcome, his eyes, seeing deep into human hearts with his compassion, forgiveness, and healing, his mouth, speaking words of encouragement and comfort—and sometimes words of challenge–calling us and to be at our best. We are here to do his ministry.

But the best part is that we are not alone. We are here because they were here, Laura and Irving, and Hoddie and Charlotte and Ruth and Geraldine and Harriet and Gertrude and Mary Magdalene and Paul and George and Theresa of Avila and Patrick and Hilda and on and on, this great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. We pray for them; they pray for us, and the love and faith keep being shared.

May we run the race. May we be faithful to the vision. May we share the faith and love. Amen

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