The Saints of God Walk Amongst Us

Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church, Wesley Chapel, FL
Preacher: The Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes
All Saints’ Day/Year C RCL: November 3, 2019
Gospel: Luke 6:21-30

Posted by Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church on Sunday, November 3, 2019

Lord, take our minds and think through them. Take our mouths and speak through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for Christ’s sake. Amen.

All Saints’ day is set aside to remember and commend the saints of God, who have gone before us, leading lives, and losing their lives in service to God and God’s people.  Saints were once human beings who walked amongst their fellow human beings. All Saints’ Day is not solely about people of the past; it is also about recognizing the saints who walk amongst us today. The question is whether or not we have the eyes to see them; the ears to hear them; and the hearts to receive them when God’s divine presence is made manifest to us through them.

And, one was a shepherd, one was a doctor, one was a queen, one was a soldier and one was a priest,[1] and one was standing outside of the bathrooms at the I-75 North rest area selling baseball caps.

On my return from my road trip yesterday, I stopped to stretch my legs and breathe. As I walked, I was processing my sermon about saints and wouldn’t you know, St. James appeared. He was an older gentleman wearing a Vietnam Veterans cap selling other caps with messages on them. I acknowledged him and he me, and we ended up talking for 20 minutes. James gave me permission to share our encounter with you today. In that 20 minutes, we went from you look like my family—where are you from—to his unceasing testimony of how God saved him from dying in the Vietnam War; saved him from years of substance addiction; and brought him out of the depths of despair when his wife of 30 years died. He witnessed to me about how God uses him—at that rest area to serve hurting souls.

Then he looked at me, tilted his head and asked, “What do you do?” I told him to guess. He said, “You a nurse.” I reached out for his hand and said, “I’m a priest.” He said, “Yeah, there’s something about you that I felt when you came over to me. So I was close. You nurse people’s souls, right?” This 72-year-old, self-proclaimed “blessed” gentleman knew that his life, with all of the loss, danger and disappointment, is a unique medium by which God makes himself known to the world.

Anglican priest and theologian, John Macquarrie, described sainthood as, “…the focusing in a human life of the divine presence.[2] Macquarrie’s description brings to mind the image of a light-bending prism. The prism captures the light and through its transparent material (usually glass, plastic or fluorite), serves as a vehicle by which the light, as it exits the prism, is perceived by the human eye in the fullness of wavelengths, which are perceived as colors, that comprise a beam of light.  Important, also, is the material used to make a prism, including its shape and angles. The material affects how effectively the light moving through it is reflected, refracted and dispersed.”[3] Of course, the rainbow is one example of this phenomenon.

This image of the prism is particularly helpful for our All Saints’ commemoration.  When a beam of light encounters the surface of a prism, the light slows down which changes the angle at which the light moves.[4] The incarnational experience of a human life, slows down the divine presence just enough for it to be reflected through a multitude of human lives across human history—living prisms who are uniquely formed to reflect, refract and disperse Christ’s light into the world by virtue of their baptism into Christ.

Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus repeatedly says that the Kingdom of God has come near.  God incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, had indeed come near to humankind. In Jesus, God manifested his self-giving love, this outpouring of himself, which ultimately led to Jesus’ choosing to sacrifice his life for the redemption of the whole world.

The Communion of saints, of which God’s faithful are all a part, is a fellowship of those past and present souls which were, and are, willing to be used by God to manifest his eternal, self-giving love through this temporal human experience to the glory of His name. In this in-between time, as we await Christ’s coming again, His light never ceases to move in and through God’s unique human prisms, nurturing the children of God to the full stature of Christ while equipping them to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.[5]

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was a human being who walked amongst humankind. Through his life, ministry and death, Jesus we have a blueprint for saintly living patterned by his self-giving love revealed by his death on the cross for the salvation of the whole world. Like Jesus, the saints recognized by the Church, were also once human beings who walked amongst us. They have given us a legacy of lives patterned on Jesus’ outpouring of self in myriad expressions.

Christ’s Light was dispersed into the world through saintly prisms to feed the blessed who are poor and hungry now. Christ’s Light was dispersed into the world through saintly prisms to bear hope for the blessed who weep now. Christ’s Light was dispersed into the world through saintly prisms to love and include the blessed who are hated, excluded and reviled.

And, Christ’s Light is dispersed into the world through the saintly prisms gathered in worship today. Saints of Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church, you are living prisms through which this dark world glimpses the Light of Christ, bringing the divine presence near to all whom you encounter and for all who witness the ways in which you pour yourself out to serve all people in the name of Christ. By virtue of your baptism, you are alive in Christ, and are in full fellowship with the Communion of Saints.

The saints of God walk amongst us. Do we have the eyes to see them; the ears to hear them; the hearts to receive them? And, do we truly have the courage to be them?

May God strengthen our unique human material to be willingly led by the Holy Spirit to boldly walk in the footsteps of Jesus—reflecting, bending and dispersing Christ’s light across our individual lives, bringing the kingdom of God near to all.

Amen.

[1] “I sing a song of the saints of God,” 1982 Hymnal (Hymn 293).

[2] Macquarrie, John. Principles of Christian Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), Second Edition, p. 253.

[3] https://education.seattlepi.com/prisms-optics-work-4817.html

[4]https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=Jfi8XavGO8vy5gLM6oDIDg&q=what+is+a+prism+used+for&oq=what+is+a+prism&gs_l=psy-ab.1.4.0l10.1828.3974..7214…1.0..2.328.1960.9j6j0j1….2..0….1..gws-wiz…….0i131j0i70i249.Uj13wBolIic

[5] Catechism, “The Church.” Book of Common Prayer, p. 855.