This week, we approach the celebration of All Saints’ Day, which helpfully lands on a Sunday this year! (According to the Book of Common Prayer, All Saints’ is to always be celebrated on its appointed date; a parish may also celebrate it on the Sunday after November 1 if it so chooses.) On Sunday, we will gather in our church – in the less than perfect ways being dictated by COVID-19 – to re-member who we are as the body that is knit together into a single communion through our Lord Jesus Christ. We gather on Sunday to celebrate and re-member who we are in the ways that we remember the beloved saints that have gone before us. The saints that we remember on this particular Sunday, however, are not the ones that have an appointed date on the festal calendar of the church. Instead, the saints that are remembered are the individual disciples of Christ Jesus that made impressions upon our hearts. They are the ones that helped us to grow into our own faith, and they are the ones that helped us to see the beauty of being part of the mystical body of our Savior Jesus Christ. They are, mostly, ordinary people that lived ordinary lives. They are the ones who helped us to see the holiness of the ordinary and to remember that we are called to greater things than we are ready to believe.
“We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.”Mother Teresa
The quote above highlights the point rather simply, but I think it is something for us to hold onto – especially “for a time such as this.” In the moment in which we find ourselves, I wonder if we should also be thinking in the same terms as the original place of that last snippet. Just like Esther, we, as the mystical body of Christ Jesus, are in a place to show to the world the ways that we are all created for greater things than those that are used to define success. We are in a place to change the world precisely because we commit ourselves to the practice of the theological virtues on a daily basis, and through those theological virtues, we begin to change the world. It is not going to happen overnight, and I daresay it will not happen once the election is over. But, it will happen if we re-member, though the lives of the saints of our lives, that we are the ones created to love and to be loved. We will change the world by reminding others that they too are created to love and to be loved. We will change the world by continuously asking God to “increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity.”
“Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Collect of the Day, Proper 25, Book of Common Prayer p. 235
And of course, by changing the world, we really are talking about what it is that we are called to do as the church in the first place: “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 855) It is not so much that we are changing the world into something that never was; instead, we are recalling what it is that God created us to be and to become. We are not actually changing anything as much as we are returning to the ways of God and re-membering who we are as a people of God.
Perhaps it is important to say quite clearly: every person in every land is a beloved creature of God’s making and has worthiness as a result of that truth. That is only one part of the cruciform life – receiving worthiness from God by virtue of our being spoken into existence by God in each moment. The second part is equally as important: to practice charity – the Christian love of one’s fellows. I wonder if you are able to see and to hear the cruciform life in the form of the summary of the law, which we heard proclaimed as our Gospel text last week!
The coming days have plenty to continue to divide us if we allow it to happen. All of us will want to watch as election returns come in, and many, if not all of us, are hoping for things to go one way or another. But, we also need to remember that we are created for greater things. We will need to come back together after the election results are in to be present to one another as the mystical body of Christ that is knit together in a single communion. We will need to remember that we are created in order to love and to be loved. It will be important for us to re-member the summary of the law that informs the cruciform life, and it will be important for us to come together shoulder to shoulder (with social distancing of course!) to pray together and to know that each one of us is a beloved child of God spoken into being in and through God’s lovingkindness.
To these ends, our parish is invited to gather together on the evening of Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 6:30pm to pray as Anglicans have done down through centuries. We will gather in our courtyard at that time to pray Evening Prayer and to re-member that we are knit together through one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We will gather to pray for the church, for the world, and for ourselves. We will gather, as the mystical body of our Savior Jesus Christ, to pray and to remember that we are created to love and to be loved in return.