On this All Saints day I realize that we're all going to face the time of our death. We'll leave behind the things that we can't take with us, hopefully our legacy we'll be one that perpetuates kingdom life in others.
I've thought about this many times while walking around cemeteries. Names, dates, and favorite quotes are all that we have left to tell us something about those who live there, who wait there, who rest there. But if we were to find a loved one, or a friend they'll be able to tell us more. They would give us a fuller picture of the one who now rests. Life has been lived, little can be changed once we are gone, but the stories told, the lessons taught, the priorities modeled can indeed make a lasting impact on generations.
None of those who now rest were perfect. They all had their trials and their moments of uncertainty, fear and doubt. Some of them were not great fathers or mothers, were not good at organization, others were people that we could easily forget. Yet all were called to be human, and I would ventured to say that most tried their best to make a difference large or small for the world as they knew it.
On this day we remember all who live with God, especially those who now await the resurrection. It would be easy to dismiss their humanness, forget their brokenness, and just celebrate their saintliness! In doing that we would miss out on the real challenges of living out God's reign in the world. On the real challenges of making a difference in spite of our being human.
In celebrating let us not forget our own call to "set apartness" in our world. This is not a call to perfection but a call to proclamation, a call to be agents of justice, a call to be agents of healing and wholeness for the world, a call to lean on God's Spirit in the living of our lives.
Maybe today we might reflect on what it means to be human. God's own breath in all of humanity, God's own mark. I've been thinking that saintliness today means acknowledging the humanity of others by careful listening, walking alongside, and rejecting the powers that lie, divide, and label.
The Gospel reading for today is the beatitudes from Luke 6:20-31. "Blessed are," the poor, the hungry, the hated, all of those, have a place in God's eternal kingdom. There are also warnings for those who are rich, for those who are "full," for those who have a good reputation. I guess in God's kingdom not everything is what it seems at first!
I am glad that once a year I'm reminded of my call to "saintliness." I'm also glad that we have the stories of the many before us who day by day attempted to live the life of the kingdom here on earth.
In a polarized political environment, filled with suspicion, fear, and sound bites I am reminded of the words of Jesus about the meaning of kingdom life:
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:27-31