All Saints’ Sunday

by admin on November 4, 2013

Reflections for 3 November 2013
Ephesians 1:11-23

Makin’ the Cut

Great World Series—huh? If the Indians can’t be there, I guess the Red Sox will have to do. What fantastic ball playing—most of the time. That last game in Fenway we watched the Cardinals snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They didn’t make the cut.

Or yesterday’s game with Sparty and those others guys in Michigan. Watching the glum faces of the Wolverine bench as the inevitable result was sinking in….priceless. They didn’t make the cut.

So what else is new? In the world of sports it happens all the time. Winners cut from losers; first-rate teams from also rans; top 10 from everyone else.

We all know that action—happens all the time. Dana and Cooper Tire do it with employees; General Mills did it with Cheerios; GM does it with auto lines.

Probably a day doesn’t go by that we don’t experience some kind of cut off—and wonder, “will we make it?”

Several years ago the RC church issued a new revision of acceptable saints. It named 6,538 saints, which reduced the number from the last revision of 1966. Some old favorites are still off: St. Christopher; but St. George got back on. Should we be concerned about who make the cut for sainthood?

Today is All Saints’ Sunday, the annual day in the church calendar where sainthood is extolled and saints are remembered and revered. But who’s in charge of that list? And how do you get on or get cut?

In light of the Ephesians Bible reading today, I’d like to invite us to think about this idea for a few minutes. Simply put, I don’t think sainthood has much to do with halos and everything to do with holy living. In other words, being a saint is being a person of influence on others. So—who makes that cut?

Lots of people. In fact, in the first few verses (11-14) Paul sets that out pretty clearly.

V11⇒we also have obtained an inheritance—the whole group of folks in metro Ephesus.
V12⇒we who were the first to set our hope on Christ—Jewish believers.
V13⇒In him you also—Gentile converts.

So the influence of sainthood is open to anyone. Why? Regardless of where you are in life, everyone wields influence. It’s probably the primary human power.

But what is so stunning here is that Paul says in the church—the community of faith gathered around the Lord Jesus—that the church is the model of all barriers broken down. All barriers.

In the Saturday Blade’s church section there’s several “barrier-free” churches. What’s that mean? Handicapped parking and wheel chair ramps mostly. But are these the barriers to a better world? Closer to reality are the barriers of prejudice, hatred, bigotry, and injustice—all the stuff of real human living.

By myself and given to my own devices I don’t fare very well. Bob: Roman, when you’re in your own head alone, you’re in a bad neighborhood. I need all of you to help me out of my barrier-protected little world.

That’s what church is about. Not the chairs, the holy pictures and icons, what songs we sing, or the coffee and cookies. But the press of flesh, the look in the eyes and the gentle and sometimes firm encouragement to be a better person.

For saints, people of influence, church is the key. Paul says the way into this community is the same for everyone.

1. V13—you hear the gospel—Jesus Christ is alive and offers his life to you.
2. You believe in him—trust Jesus to do this and allow your life to be influenced and shaped by his. The Jesus for Dummies version is today’s Gospel.
3. You are marked by the HS—the dynamic power of God unleashed in your life. Paul says this is the first installment in a lay-away plan. In effect, what Paul says is that church is really practice for heaven.

What kind of practice are we doing here at Nova Faith? Do we make the cut on this?

Now there’s a second big move to being this kind of saint—a person of influence. Lots of us reckon that if we get the private belief stuff down, God will let us into heaven. “Jesus I believe you forgive me—just don’t ask me to forgive that jerk across the street, the desk, the sofa.”

In the second half of this reading (vv15-23) Paul asks his hearers to consider the fact they live in a big cultural fishbowl. Being the church, being a saint does not mean living in a fail-safe society.

How does what we hear and experience here influence the way we act out there? And how does that way of acting influence the affairs of the rest of the world?

What the Ephesians Christians discovered was that they lived in a world of competing claims for truth. There were so many “thought systems” out there. How do you choose the truthful one?

For Paul the choice was simple: which one will produce the quality of person the world needs? Which one is in line with God’s intention?

Certainly the beliefs that allow and encourage hatred and prejudice to prevail don’t make that cut. Is there one with such possibility that could establish peace, justice and reconciliation?

Yes there is. The community of faith gathered around the Lord JC.

This is a meaty idea Paul wrestles with because it’s one long sentence in Greek. And he takes words, ideas and concepts that people knew carried pagan freight. Then he steals them for the cause of Christ.

The 21st century institutional church had forgotten this. Interestingly, when ML was trying to figure out a new versions of church music in the 16th century, he wanted to replace Latin chant with beer hall choruses—music people knew everyday. To his critics he quipped: “Why should the devil have all the good tunes?”

As I look around the room today I see a lack of millenials– young college kids. What will it take to get them here? What do we have to steal from their culture for the cause of Christ?

Of course Paul has got a big “so what?” Why be concerned with all this?

V18—so you may know what is the hope to which he called you.

Paul brings all this to one dramatic conclusion—the power of the Resurrection is real power. JC is alive and wants to fill our lives.

Without this Christianity doesn’t make the cut. This is the only power capable of transforming human lives. The living JC in the disciple’s life.

This is the unique message of the Christian faith. This is why it appealed to so many regardless. JC alive in us and empowering us to live like him—breaking down all barriers that surround us, confuse us, separate us. In him alone is cure for every human ill, every human addiction, and every human suffering.

This is sainthood; it includes us all. If you listen to the news you’ll be convinced we are on the cusp of fear and hostility. Or are we ordered by Resurrection power? Paul went for Resurrection. I do too…..Because I want to be part of God’s plan…and be a saint. Don’t you?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: