David was no “saint” — I think we covered that pretty well a couple weeks ago. I mean — rape, murder…he was the worst. But he also acknowledged what he’d done…he confessed to it all. And here’s the thing…David was more than the worst thing he’d done. He was still a child of God. He still had goodness in him…he still could make a difference in this world. We know he made a difference for his son, Solomon…he says so, in the passage Hedy read. Actually, as I hear Solomon go on about his father’s faithfulness and righteousness, I can’t help but cringe a little…but I also recognize it. I’ve seen the same thing in families at funerals…who wax on about how wonderful the person was…when we all know he was kind of a bully and a jerk…have you been to those funerals? But, it’s part of remembering that every person…each one of us… is more than the worst thing they’ve done. Every person…no matter how messed up they may be…is a child of God. And can make a difference for good in the lives of others. They can be saints.
Today…we remember the saints in our lives. And we all know…they weren’t perfect. But we loved them. And they loved us. They made a difference in our lives and they will always be a part of us.
The tradition of All Saint’s Day actually started in Britain as the Celts came to know Jesus. The Celts had a tradition of “thin places” and “thin times”…when the veil between this world and the afterlife was lifted and we could commune more easily with God as well as those who had previously died. For the Celts, Samhain…was one of those times. So the new Christians changed the name of Samhain and called it “All Hallow’s eve” or Halloween….and celebrated it as the eve of All Saints Day… they day they remembered that the veil between this world and the next is always thin because we are connected with those before us in the eternal Body of Christ.
Of course, the idea of thin places and times…or holy places and times was not unique to the Celts.
Most cultures have similar understandings. The Temple, for Jews, was the holy or “thin” place where God’s presence was felt. And in our reading this morning, because there was no temple yet, it says Solomon went to the “high places” to sacrifice. The “high places” were the traditional thin places of the indigenous peoples of Israel….and when Solomon went to those high places…God met him there.
God honors our thin places…our holy places wherever they are. Because when we seek God – God shows up. God meets us where we are. Today, as we observe All Saint’s Day…we remember that God shows up and meets us in our lives…and we also remember, like the ancient Celts, that the veil between this world and the next is thin.
You know…we often confess our faith using the words of the Apostle’s Creed….which was written by those early Christians to try to articulate the basics of what our faith in Jesus means. And in that creed, we confess that we believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
I guess, in a nutshell, that’s what this day is about. This day is about remembering that we are part of the communion of saints. We are the saints. We are God breathed…holy. And our lives are intertwined, connected. That’s what communion means…that’s what the Body of Christ is all about. We are knit together as one. Your life matters to mine…and mine to yours. What happens to you affects me…but also what happens to people far away also affects me. We are a human family…one body. We belong to one another. And we matter to one another. And that is also true of the folks that are no longer with. They are still part of us. Today we are reminded once again that each of our lives is more than the dash between the dates on our gravestones. Our life is part of God’s eternal life.
But this day is about the forgiveness of sins…because every single one of us “saints’…is a sinner as well. We aren’t holy because we’re perfect…we are holy because God’s spirit works through frail humans, messed up as we are. And though we mess up…Jesus forgives us again and again and again….because, I’ll say it again…each one of us is more than the worst thing we have ever done.
And this day is also about the resurrection of the body. Because we believe that as Jesus was raised…so we will be. That our life does not end with death….in ashes and decay…or on crosses or in tombs. Rather we trust that what is embodied in us…is eternal. Everlasting. That essence that is you cannot be destroyed and has nothing to fear. You belong to God. Forever.
Yes, this is the faith we confess….but all of us, at times, struggle to believe it. At every funeral, we pray that God would help us believe in “The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting’. We pray that because we know how easy it is to lose hope when we are grieving. But today, and.every Sunday actually, we gather to have our faith renewed, and to be emboldened to trust in Jesus Christ. To be emboldened to believe in the faith we profess. That we are the Body of Christ. That every corner of earth is a “thin place” where we can feel God’s presence…where we can remember we are connected to those we love…and to all of God’s beloved children.
You know, Solomon prayed for wisdom…but we believe the true wisdom of God…is revealed in Jesus. Jesus shows us who we are, who God is, and how we are knit together. How we are connected beyond time and space….beyond the veil. Jesus promised to be with his beloved friends to the end of the ages. And one place he specifically said we would find him was in the meal…in bread and wine. Jesus said…do this…and remember me….because here I give you my whole self — my body and my blood. This table is a “thin place” …where we meet Jesus and receive his life and love …his whole presence. And we share in that meal with ALL the body of Christ….all the Saints. This is a foretaste, we say, of the feast to come. We share the meal today…with one another…this gathered family of God. But we also share it with Patti and Robin…Steve and Sip. We share the meal today with my mom and dad…with all our loved ones, the communion of saints….held together in God’s eternal love. Welcome to the thin place, dear friends. May you feel God’s presence and the presence of those on the other side of the veil. For we are all one body. Now and forever. Amen.