Thursday, November 01, 2007

Calling the roll

The Solemnity of ALL SAINTS falls on November 1st and/or is kept on the Sunday afterwards. Selected readings for that feast include: Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31

One of the Anglican funeral prayers (1) says "Help us to live as those who believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection to eternal life"

These are good words and indeed important words but a bit religious and I often use the explanation of them to lock into what are the important themes of a Christian funeral: Community, Forgiveness and Life.

And indeed not only of a funeral, but of the Christian life. For indeed the mystery of faith is that we are God's in death as in life. If we live we live to the Lord, and if we die we die to the Lord. So then whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord's (Romans 14:8) We see a continuity that the grave does not breach.


Although we habitually use the word 'communion' to talk about the saints, we could just as well talk about the community of saints. People who are united in their common pursuit of the gospel of Jesus. Christian life is lived out in community, always has been and always will be. Even the key idea that we have about God, The Trinity, reveals to us that the essence of God is community...Father, Son and Spirit...the community of love.

Into that community life is drawn a community of people who God chooses to belong as God's chosen people. This chosen people is not an exclusive group, it is an open community with a constant invitation to people to join.

As we look at this community, or communion, of saints certain big names are set before us...Francis, Mary, Peter, Luther, John XXIII, Dietrich Bonhoeffer...and you can no doubt think of more (see some thoughts here and here for example).

This very mixed group reminds us that we are not meant to be soldiers in an army, or chocolate duplicates of each other but that we are as diverse as they come. Our unity comes out of our relationship with Jesus.

This is an important thing to remember. Particularly when we are talking about bringing new people to faith, or in deepening the faith of others. We are not cloning, we are bringing people into relationship with Jesus, and with the other members of the Jesus community.

People want community not committee. They want relationship not rules.

Help us to live as the communion of saints. In honest, open, forgiving relationships. Seeking the good of others, and the welfare of all.

In all things remembering that this is the abundant and eternal life that God promises us in Christ.

We sometimes get fixated on that part of the community that is beyond the grave. They are there to guard, inspire and encourage us. But we also are to commit to community now, struggling with all that it means to share this common life together. The promise is that in the unfolding of this commitment, eternal and abundant life are given to be lived now. As Saints.

This week
Pray for help to live as saints in community.
Where do I need to challenge my own tendency to be a loner, to reject the discipline of community?
Where can I be encouraging and forgiving?
Where do I need to forgive?
Invite all the saints, living and dead, who have been influential in forming you to join with you in praying for a deeper commitment

You Tube presentation

(1)(see introduction to the Funeral in An Australian Prayer Book 1978 (AAPB))

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