22nd Sunday after Pentecost- Fr. Chris- November 5, 2017

November 5, 2017

Keith Davison had looked forward to the peace and quiet of retirement for quite some time, but he quickly got more than his fill of silence in the months after his wife of sixty-six years died.[i] That is when the ninety-four-year-old, Mr. Davison, had an idea… In early spring this year, he noticed that his older established neighborhood in Minnesota didn’t really have any parks or gathering places for children. So he went to his backyard with a measuring tape in hand and began marking the ground with a can of spray paint. He floated his idea out to his neighbors, especially those with children, to see what they thought. One neighbor in particular was shocked to see him marking the ground. She said to her husband in amazement, “I think he’s really going to do it.”

Today we gather on this All Saints Sunday to sing a song of the saints of God and pray that we might be one too. We stop to reflect on the faithfully departed whose lives were shining examples of virtue and godly living while hoping that we might come to know the ineffable joys prepared by Christ for his saints. And on this day of remembrance, we have three readings to guide us.

First, we have the reading from the book of Revelation. Anytime we have a reading from Revelation, we must imagine a picture book being painted that shares images of hope in the midst of the brokenness of the world that we encounter. In other words, I would not say the book of Revelation is a script or playbook about some future apocalyptic event, but rather it is our past, our present, and our future… It is our hope in this life and the life to come. Revelation chapter 7 is no different. This is a beautiful vision of a great multitude of people worshiping together in that place where there is no pain nor sorrow, but life everlasting. One cannot help but envision the picture being painted with these words and see the fullness of our hope as part of the community of saints.

Then we have the short lesson from First John. It is short and to the point. It reminds us that we are loved by God and by that love we are called children of God.

Finally, our Gospel lesson at first appears to come out of left field with the beatitudes. What do the poor in spirit have to do with saints? And how does being poor in spirit or being in mourning or being meek make you blessed? The answer is that Jesus did not say, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit because they are poor in spirit.’”[ii] Jesus is not pointing out qualifications that make one worthy. In fact, no matter how fortunate our lives might be, in the end, we are all grouped with Jesus’ list of misfits that are blessed nonetheless and only because of the abundant grace that has freely fallen upon us. Looking at the Beatitudes is fitting for today as we celebrate All Saints Day because we are blessed and made holy through Christ just as those that have gone on before us have been blessed and made holy through Christ.

In the back of the Book of Common Prayer, the Catechism answers the question “What is the communion of saints?” by saying, “The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.” What we come to know is the great joy of receiving God’s grace in this community of love and we are thus able to see that we too are the communion saints…

Back in Minnesota, Keith Davison went through with his harebrained idea… and now it’s not quiet at the Davison household anymore. You see, Mr. Davison installed a very large swimming pool and then opened the gate to the whole neighborhood. In fact, his pool is the only public pool in the entire town and there is no charge. Mr. Davison has three adult children, but no biological grandchildren. Now, he has in a way adopted the whole neighborhood of children. While the children play, Mr. Davison greets each parent and child from his lawn chair in the shade. In an interview with NBC in Minneapolis, he admitted that building a swimming pool was  probably not a wise economic decision, but he asks how could you not do something like this that brings community, love, and joy to so many lives?

As many of you know, we are in the middle of our annual pledging season. Hopefully you have received your packet of information and have begun praying about what your gift will be to the mission and ministry of St. Paul’s for 2018. In this particular season, we set aside a time that is specifically for discerning how we will be good stewards of this our home parish and of our money. For many it is often a dreaded topic because any conversation of money feels uncomfortable, but I hope we will see this time for what it is truly about… discipleship. It is just one piece in the larger puzzle of discipleship and stewardship as a whole. And so with that in mind, we back out a bit to reflect on our life as disciples with thanksgiving as we seek to be saints too.

In our scripture readings today, we heard lessons on the community of saints, the love of God, and the joy of blessing that is a pure gift from God… community, love, and joy. Seeking to live a virtuous life is not about being perfect, but rather living in God’s grace and then doing our best to further God’s kingdom through community, love, and joy. In the end, that is what Mr. Davison sought to do… and he didn’t care whether it was the “smart” thing to do or not. In many ways, his actions serve as a parable of our calling as the Church. He simply saw a need in himself and others, and then acted for the sake of community, love, and joy. In doing likewise, we are St. Paul’s… We are disciples… And we join the great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us and those who serve with us today. Yes, we stop on this day to reflect on the faithfully departed whose lives were shining examples of virtue and godly living while hoping that we might come to know the ineffable joys prepared by Christ for his saints because after all… we mean to be one too. Amen.

[i] www.kare11.com/news/local/land-of-10000-stories/94-year-old-puts-in-pool-for-neighborhood-kids/463647743?utm_content=buffer4155d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer (visited on November 2, 2017)

[ii] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 1997, 102

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785
Website:http://www.stpaulskaty.org
Email:info@stpaulskaty.org

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