- Eternal God,
teach us to love you not only in mind and heart
but also in purpose and action,
that we may love the children of the earth,
in Jesus Christ. Amen.
This week we again have choices. Will you be celebrating All Saints on Sunday? If so your readings may be found here; if you are sticking with the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 26, you'll find them here instead.
I love All Saints Day--it's one of my favorite church days, dating back to childhood and learning to sing "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God." (Do you know this wonderful picture book? When I was in seminary I did my field placement at the parish that is the setting for the book; the church suffered a devastating fire around the time the book was published and donated part of her profits to the rebuilding effort; while I was there the book was reissued and she came and spoke...but I digress.) The Episcopal Lectionary used a passage from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (another one of my favorite things) every year for All Saints, so I was a bit jarred to find John as this week's gospel (never mind that I've been on the RCL for five years now!) ANYWHO...(can you tell I am distracted by Sandy as I write, and by my flickering electricity?) In the gospel we hear the familiar story of the raising of Lazarus. On a day given to celebrating all those saints who have entered God's nearer presence ahead of us, the story of Lazarus offers us hope that death does not have the last word and ....well, I'll leave making that connection to you (and please share your inspiration!)
The All Saints' lections also give the preacher a choice between the Wisdom of Solomon and Isaiah. Both of these readings are among the selection suggested for funerals in the (Episcopal) prayer book, and both offer a wonderful vision of life eternal with God, also apt for the day. Finally we might chose Revelation and a vision of the new Jerusalem.
If you are going with Proper 26, you might choose to preach on the first of two selections from the book of Ruth, in which Ruth demonstrates her unfailing loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi and sets off with her as Naomi returns to the land of her birth. Or you might go with Deuteronomy and the Shema, that wonderful affirmation of faith that is at the heart of Judaism. This reading goes well with the gospel from Mark, in which a scribe challenges Jesus about which law is the first.
Lots and lots of choices, preachers. Where is the Spirit calling you?