Sermon Date: November 7, 2021
By Pastor Elaine Boone
Today we mark All Saints - we remember the saints of the Church and the saints closer to home and heart. Today is a day for telling stories. That is how family history is transmitted. Passed down from generation to generation. Stories of how people met and married, stories of births and deaths and celebrations of all kinds. Stories of how we came to live where and how we live. Stories of all kinds.
Telling stories was how the people of Israel shared their faith and their history. Stories of family that eventually were put down in a more formal way and then the stories could be read as well as told.
And it was the same for the early Christians. Telling stories of Jesus. People sharing a story that they heard from someone and telling it again to someone they knew - or perhaps to their family and the stories spread. They spread from individuals to families, to villages, to cities to countries. The stories have kept spreading.
Before the stories were written and re-written and re-written again and again they were shared orally. And so the stories changed in the re-telling. Its like the game of telephone - the phrase that begins the game is never the one that finishes it!
And so our bible has stories that are different - sometimes contradictory and sometimes impossible to reconcile. The stories that were written were not eye- witness accounts. They were not unbiased news reports.The stories were told and then they were written to convince people to believe in Jesus. They needed to grip the audience and to be interesting and riveting and convincing. They were trying to convert people - to bring people to faith in Jesus. The stories were written by people who did not know Jesus, had never met Jesus, spoke a different language than Jesus & lived in different countries than Jesus did. They were stories about how to understand a relationship with God. Stories about faith. Stories about a man who proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near at hand. Stories about a kingdom that would be unlike the world the listeners lived in. A kingdom where the last would be first, the meek would inherit the earth, where widows and orphans would be protected. Where justice and peace would flourish.
The stories were told by Christians. People who believed in Jesus but had their own biases and reasons for telling the stories the way that they did.
Telling stories was the way the faith spread. Telling stories again and again in different ways and in different contexts - this is how people came to the faith - came to believe in Jesus.
So today on all saints - Let me tell you a story…….and then I would love to hear one of yours….
Let me tell you a story about my grandmother on my mom’s side of the family. My Grandma lived to 102 and she used to say that she was the luckiest old lady. Even though she was NOT a fan of getting old! She had a young heart and soul. She was a positive person even though she had had her share of difficulties and heartbreaks. I never knew my Grandma to go to Church - apparently she had done that while raising her children - heavily involved in sunday school etc etc. But one day - as often happens in Churchland - someone made hurtful and judgemental comments and that was that. She was done. But it did not mean she was not a woman of faith. She knew the love of God and transmitted her faith through who she was. Her children knew her love, her grandchildren knew her love and her great-grandchildren knew her love. And they are people of faith and of love - because of who she was and what she stood for and how she taught us all.
My Grandma used to sing us all a little ditty - “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck”.....and she did….And my Aunt Nan would sing the song to the great grands - the children of my cousins and brothers and to my children too. And I sang the song to Leah and Maud. And one day in a store I saw a decorative sign that said :I love you a bushel and a peck and now that hangs in my house and in my parents home. A reminder of the love of my grandmother and the person that she was.
And the song is passed from generation to generation, like the stories we tell of family and faith.
The Church can be a place of hurt and judgement as well as a place of security and safety and love. Its up to us to make the kingdom present - to live as Jesus taught. To love God with all of our hearts and minds and strength and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
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