There are many ideas to which we are bound on earth; which like the grave clothes of Lazarus limit our movement and shackle us. There are many matters which leave us as Christian people restricting the generosity and love of God to the worlds understanding and in doing so permeate us Christians with the faint stench of death – rather than the fragrant aroma of a liberated resurrection people.
The Saints of God have not been historically lacking in being bound by arguments which defined their witness and teaching. Though mostly exploring for us God’s nature they have occasionally limited our human understanding of our relationship with God – by setting boundaries to God through the churches teaching which have limited our relationship with God and each other – rather than given us an understanding of our access to God’s unconditional Love and how this might be shared. – On this feast of All Saints’ amongst that heavenly host, we are remembering those who fought against the powers of this world – authorities set against God’s Kingdom in such a way that women and men of our religious history were sacrificed to be silenced – and yet – their actions have spoken louder than the words they ever uttered.
For though they might have considered the merits of their theological arguments to be beyond reproach… their ultimate witness was the offering of their life, the offering up of their comfort and safety, the offering to accept pain rather than deny God – all of these things contribute to our understanding of the Saints of heaven who we recall this day not as individuals but as a corporate body of people united through Christ with us, his church.
But for us – we too need to be liberated by the testimony of Jesus to be ourselves the saints of God in this generation and not a people of God peering into the grave scraping around for historical treasures and relics – especially when the treasure of God is sewn deep within who we are. For you and I are God’s people, we – in relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ with the prompting of the Holy Spirit are his Saints in waiting and some his saints actually.
What a responsibility we have – not that being the saints in waiting should limit our lives – but should be the liberation of our understanding of who we are – made in the image of God to proclaim and contribute to his Kingdom.
Each of us in some degree of understanding has a relationship with God. I suspect we all believe ourselves to have access to God’s ear – and I suspect at some point in our lives, we have thought we have had God all worked out – only to find we do not.
We know the contradictions of God’s apparent actions presented to us in scripture – but we know also of the consistency of God’s Love (unless you have turned God into a substitute angry parent). And it is the latter point which the saints of God proclaim… that there is a consistency to God not found in human relationships – that there is an unconditional love of God offered to the believer – not found elsewhere in society. That there is a purpose to God which searches tirelessly for the lost sheep or seeks to restore the broken in their brokenness into the community of faith and so on and so forth.
God is greater than the saints – God is better than the image of oppressive and abusive power some would like to yield over another or God’s creation. God is Love and that Love is revealed as the inspiration to the saints of God – even when we limit it by our own anxieties and inhibitions.
The saints of God were never and will never be perfect – but universally we confess that God is love and all things flow forth from that love. This is why we challenge ourselves and our own understandings in the conversations we are engaged in surrounding loving relationships, new understandings of Gender or issues in human sexuality, or understanding race issues and division within our society, or racism and bigotry or Climate and the environment.
Whether we are on the right or wrong side of any one of these issues – whether we are getting it theologically right or wrong. If we are proclaiming that God is love, then that proclamation will at some level begin to thaw our ancient hearts towards God’s creation to allow its potential and flourishing.
Our age is as complicated as the age of any saints of God – yet it is his kingdom we proclaim, and it is in contributing to the understanding of God’s love being worked out in the world that we do good to each other and in the communities in which we live.
The saints of God showed their true colours by being prepared to die not denying God and so much more. Let us remember those who are still persecuted today and pray for them. Perhaps our sainthood is to be worked out in acts of service and love, forgiveness and compassion where we come to realise our true identities as God’s Saints in this generation and perhaps our joy will be complete when our being amongst the whole people of God worshipping the true God is our greatest hope realised. Amen