Can We Begin to See Our Eternal Sacredness
This week we are in the octave of All Saints Day and will be observing our patronal feast this Sunday. It seems I have been a rector of an All Saints Church for nearly 38 years, the first nine being in an All Saints parish in Westchester County. I’m not sure there is an award for this, but if there is, I will apply!
Usually the texts for All Saints Day speak about ordinary people; their faith, values, struggles and rewards. It is easy to think of All Saints Day as something akin to the church’s version of Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. It is a recognition of all the saints who do not have a day dedicated to them on the church’s calendar. It makes a point of remembering the forgotten ones.
In an age where we celebrate celebrity, the common man or woman can begin to question the importance of his or her life. At some deep level we might hear ourselves asking, “What difference does it make what I think or do?” Or, “Who will remember me in a hundred years?” Perhaps every person has to deal with such questions, but they seem especially heightened in a big anonymous city where fame and fortune are king and queen.
Even in the church, the great saints are held in such high esteem that one can easily get the impression that there is little I can do to compare to such lofty achievements.
This is where I find so much to enjoy about All Saints Day and the perspective in creates in reading the scriptures and especially the Gospels. We read about Jesus teaching that the first shall be be last, and again, the greatest among you will be the one who serves others. We read about the poor widow whose two cents are greater than the billionaire’s billions, because she gave until it hurt. Again and again the lowly and rejected are elevated where the rich and mighty are brought low. Even the beloved disciples are castigated for their thickness and ultimately shown forth in their cowardice.
Yes, others are richer, prettier, smarter. Athletes and musicians have amazing skills that leave us arguing who is the GOAT (greatest of all time). But can we begin to see the the sacrifices of love and service that ennoble the mundane moments, lift the downtrodden and delight the depressed? Can we begin to live in the current reign of God and see the eternal sacredness found in our humanity (including our own), the way that Jesus saw and valued it?
If we can make this shift in perspective, we will find our own sainthood, we will participate in a royal priesthood and celebrate the celebrity of being children of the Living God with our names inscribed in the book of life.