Huge spiders and webs, cartoon ghosts and grave stones, jack-o-lanterns and an occasional zombie decorate several homes in my neighborhood, and perhaps yours as well. Halloween has become a significant “holiday”, at least for retailers.
The name for this holiday comes from a contraction of All Hallows Eve, the night before a day when the church celebrates the lives of significant people of faith, people we deem as hallowed, or saints. Thus the day after Halloween is All Saints Day.
While we use Halloween to laugh at what we might fear, All Saints Day reminds us of people who inspire us to greatness especially during those times of fear. Those thin times when we can still feel those who have gone before us as if they might be standing next to us.
My father still inspires me to reconsider my sermons before and after Sunday mornings. I recall him listening critically to sermons and a few minutes later telling our pastor what he liked and what else the sermon might have considered. Years later, after he had retired and moved to a different community, he would send me pieces from that church’s newsletter annotated with his comments.
Who has inspired you to greatness? How might you honor their life this All Saints Day?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,* and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, — Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)
This week, last week, and the next two weeks, the sermon will consider one of the four facets of the congregation’s vision statement. The notes below lift up exemplifying passages from the Bible and the Book of Confessions.
Luke 8:4-8a – When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’
Romans 1:11-12 – For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Hebrews 10:24-25 – Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The Confession of 1967:
9.24 The new life finds its direction in the life of Jesus, his deeds and words, his struggles against temptation, his compassion, his anger, and his willingness to suffer death. The teaching of apostles and prophets guides men in living this life, and the Christian community nurtures and equips them for their ministries.