All Saints’ Day
Pastor Bill White
Read Luke 6:17-49
I’ve noticed people’s willingness
To stand in long lines … IF
We think there is something GOOD, Maybe even Great
at the end of the Line!
I was at a wedding reception Buffet
One station with an entire Roasted Pig, succulent meat.
That was the Longest line at the Buffet.
I saw people at the pharmacy lined up for the free flu shot!
Now, I had the flu a few years ago, no line is too long to avoid THAT!
I even saw a line to get into the room at my library’s book sale.
As a lover of reading, my heart was warmed.
What long line have you been willing or maybe even eager
To stand in recently with Hopes that the payoff at the end?
What Hopes did you have that it would be Good and maybe even GREAT?
As I read those introductory verses from today’s Gospel lesson
I hoped you could imagine with me the line waiting for Jesus’
Healing ministry when the Messiah walked the earth.
Can I ask you to use your imagination:
I imagined a 60 something couple, someone like my wife Susan and myself
Suzanna and Joshua – common names like Susan and Bill
Suzanna has ever-increasing arthritis but no modern medicine for relief
Joshua has a bad back for the last 20 years, it’s bending him over
Pain is a daily companion for both of them.
They rely on their adult children for the difficult work of daily living.
They do the small things, wanting to contribute but not much.
Daily pain is a poor companion to go through life with.
Without modern medicine we likely would have
lost one daughter in childbirth, another compromised by
an under-preforming thyroid.
That’s just our immediate family, standing in line to
Experience the healing power of Jesus of Nazareth.
What would your family be standing in line for with the
Thousands who came to see and experience Jesus healing power?
After all - Some people even believe he is the Messiah!
The Savior of the World!
One thing I’ve noticed when I go to guest preach
At congregation’s that I’ve served is people often ask
What have you been doing lately?
Here’s my story: Last Monday I served as an usher
At Weldt Auditorium on Central Connecticut’s Campus.
It was the longest line I’ve seen recently
Over 1,000 people poured into that gathering
Of a new faith community Founded that evening
WE Call It GHIAA Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance.
GHIAA was over three years in the making and
Pastor Brian and some others from St. Matthew were there
To Celebrate with over 40 faith congregations
Four Synagogues, Two Muslim communities
(one from here in the the Farmington valley)
And 30+ Christian communities of all strips.
It was the culmination of a dream that I’ve had for at least 39 years!
What have I been doing lately?
I’m still volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
I’m still involved through my congregation like so many of you:
Helping to feed the hungry at a Hartford church or
Bringing supplies for school backpacks or similar programs.
I’m preparing to go back to the tutoring program at Wish School in Hartford.
Loving my Neighbor as I’d wish to be loved.
Doing a variety of charitable deeds in Christ’s name.
Like many of you, my sisters and brothers in the faith
I’m very involved with the old adage, If you Give someone a fish ….
(Let the congregation answer) They eat today.
As the good people of St. Matthew know -
There is Lots of daily Hunger out there in Greater Hartford.
Teach them to fish …. (Let them answer)
Like habitat – They learn to build a house and pass it on.
Today, Love your neighbor as yourself, rings in my ears.
It’s an invitation in Jesus’ name that I have been hearing my entire life.
I say that because it’s also All Saints day.
It’s a day when we think about our sisters and brothers who
Have died before us, some of them in this past year.
Just as they are in our hearts, today they are on our minds.
I don’t know about you but when I arrive on All Saints day
I often think about those people who were my mentors in the faith.
I know I learned Love your Neighbor as yourself at home, in my family.
I remember the line in Luther’s large catechism.
It was on the 4th commandment. Love your father and your mother.
Luther describes them, “As our first neighbors”.
My first neighbors, Jim and Donaline White taught me
That the neighborhood didn’t stop at our door.
Or on my street or even my surrounding “Neighborhood”.
They saw the world more like Jesus or
like everyone’s neighbor, Mr. Rodgers!
Our neighbors are everyone we contact each day.
Then to be bold enough to imagine that Loving our neighbors
Might even mean loving everyone that’s connected to everyone
We are connected to – Eventually ALL GOD’ Children.
Meaning all of Humanity. Even our enemies Jesus taught
But that’s a Whole other Sermon!
What have I been up to lately?
GHIAA – Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance
Is leading me to “Love my neighbor, as myself” in the next part of that Analogy that hasn’t existed in my imagination of Love of Neighbor
Up to this point in my life.
Change the systems of society and governance that claims there
Are not enough fish or fishing holes so everyone can have enough.
That is the kind of Love of Neighbor that I have been unable to imagine.
That is the kind of Love of Neighbor that I have been
unable to invite others to join me as I learn how to do that kind of Fishing for People in Jesus Name.
GHIAA simply didn’t exist where I lived until NOW – Last Monday.
At the end of the line, in my imagination, Suzanna and Joshua,
– Were Healed! Just as the Gospel of Luke portrayed it.
As were all the people who gathered with Jesus that day.
How much more prepared were they to hear Jesus’ invitation
To Love your neighbor as yourself, after they were healed?
If your life has been transformed by the love God has entrusted to us,
to heal the illness and brokenness of our Neighbors and one day the world.
In Jesus’ – In God’s Holy name.
If the systems of poverty, inequality, Racism and all the other isms were healed,
Would the Love of Neighbor become the Norm?
That’s what I’ve been doing lately.
And this past Monday, I experienced the Joy of doing that with
1,000+ people, Gathered in God’s Holy Name.
To imagine a world where the Love of Neighbor could become….