Regeneration

Feast of All Saints                                                                                                   3 November 2019

Parish of St. John the Baptist Anglican Church of Canada, North Sydney, Nova Scotia

10:30 AM Service of Morning Prayer

Collect of the Day

Almighty God,

whose people are knit together in one holy Church,

the mystical Body of your Son,

grant us grace to follow your blessed saints

in lives of faith and commitment,

and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared

for those who love you;

through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

+++

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31

 

In the name of God: +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

On this Feast of All Saints we are reminded that a saint is someone who is sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit because of their belief in Christ. The Holy Spirit, writes Paul in his letter to the Church of Ephesus, is a down payment on our inheritance. It leads to redemption in Christ, who makes us one of God’s people.

All Saints honours “the desire of Christian people to express the intercommunion of the living and the dead in the Body of Christ.” It commemorates all who “[profess] faith in the living Christ…[and] all who have entered into the nearer presence of the Lord…”

Also, the Feast of All Saints is one of four Sundays in the Church year that we give special attention to our baptism. It is a Sunday where baptisms may be scheduled. If there are no baptisms, then the opportunity is given to renew our baptismal vows. This is why we began with those opening sentences from the Baptismal Service. “There is one body and one Spirit, there is one hope in God’s call to us; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (BAS, 151).

Baptism is a grace given from God. It is an outward and visible sign of an inward invisible grace, we Anglicans like to say. In it, we are buried with Christ so that we may be raised with him in the newness of resurrection life.  This is the promise of Christ for those of us who have been washed in the waters of baptism. Baptism is a grace bestowed onto each of us that makes the Holy Spirit present in our lives in a new way. (This is what we heard in today’s Epistle reading.)

Baptism is a sign of our profession of faith. It is a sign of regeneration, of new birth. When we are baptized we are grafted into the Body of Christ, being made one with him and with one another. We receive the promise of forgiveness of sin. We are adopted into the family of God by the presence of the Holy Spirit now in us. The baptismal waters are an outward sign of the invisible, inward grace that we receive. Our faith is confirmed and grace increases the strength of our prayers to God.

It is our baptism that forms a “Rule of Life” that we find in our Baptismal vows. We vow in the presence of God and one another to:

  • Continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.
  • Resist evil, and whenever we fall into sin, we promise to repent and return to the Lord.
  • Proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ.
  • Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbours as ourselves.
  • Strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
  • Strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth.

The Feast of All Saints gives an opportunity for each of us to personally review how we are living our lives and to make corrections to our “Rule of Life” as necessary. This is what we are called to do. It is what we promise to do in response to the grace God gives to each of us through our baptism. Our faith is what carries us through this life, and it is what will carry us into God’s presence when we die.

This is certainly so for all who have died in faith. Here at St. John’s, those who have died since last All Saints Day will be remembered at the altar of God. All Saints Day is a sad day as we remember those whom we love but see no longer. It is also a joyful day as we celebrate that they are now present among that great multitude too numerous to count.

“Many scholars believe that the commemoration of all the saints…originated in Ireland, spread from there to England, and then [on from there] to the continent of Europe. That it reached Rome and had been adopted by [the year 800] is attested to by a letter of [the pope of that time. Remember that those were the days when there was still one church in the world.]” The history for All Saints is most significant to us here today. It is personal for us. Since many of us  here today are descendants of Celtic Peoples, All Saints is in our genetic makeup.  It is what makes us unique as God’s people. And, it reminds us of the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in Luke’s Gospel. Blessed are the poor — they will possess the kingdom of God, the hungry will be filled, those who weep will laugh; those who are hated, excluded, reviled and defamed on account of the Son of Man – blessed.

May we be inspired by the examples of those who we name before God and one another, those whom we love and see no more – to love our enemies; to do good, even to those who hate us; to bless even those who curse us; and to give beyond what is asked of us; to do to others what we would have them do to us…always remembering that we, too, are blessed when we do these things. Just as those who have gone before us are blessed, “They now rest from their labours and their deeds have followed them” (Revelation 14:13b).

Thanks be to God. Amen.

 

I say this to you in the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.