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All Saints’ Sunday, Year B, 11.02.03, St Mark’s
Dan 7.1-3, 15-18
Collect: follow your blessed saints ... come to ...joys...prepared for those who truly love you
Post Communion: may we who have shared at this table ... be welcomed with all your saints
Summary: All Saints celebrates, with all other Christians, our own calling to be saints
Earlier this year we had our patronal festival, St Mark’s Day; a fortnight ago we had our feast of dedication, when Dan Hardy came to preach and preside. And now today we have our own feast, when we celebrate our calling to be the saints.
As far as the NT is concerned, we are the hagioi, the saints. What does this mean? ‘Holy’ basically means ‘set apart’ - set apart by God for God.
The writers of the New Testament proclaim that a new quality of life for the individual and the community has become a possibility already inaugurated as a result of what God is confessed a having been done in Jesus of Nazareth.
The witness of the New Testament is that this life-quality may be defined as freedom in total dependence. The earliest Christians knew a power for freedom from all that hindered their loving and serving their neighbour without thought for themselves. They knew a freedom to be open to all men and women, and not just to some, as the neighbour to be loved. They knew this freedom as a result of totally depending upon God for all things so that they no longer needed to protect themselves from others or to justify themselves before others. They were now free to be ‘fools for Christ’.
The basis of this freedom lay in dependence upon God, and the basis of that dependence lay, they believed, in the abiding love of God for them supremely made known in the teachings, life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. It was this that had freed them from themselves and their need to be self-seeking and defensive. It was this that had broken down the barriers between themselves and all other men and women. It was this that had assured them of the direct, freely-given and abiding love of God that would sustain them in all situations (Rom 8.38-39).
This life-style was a freely-given gift that could only be entered into as it was lived, and the living of it was both grace and demand. Although it was experienced as a present reality, a present foretaste, it was always felt to be moving toward the future, 5toward a future consummation that would bring all things to fulfilment.
And the locus of this freedom, the place where it was to be found, was within the fellowship of the Church, the people of God, those who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, and who see in Jesus man as God intended him to be: a man for whom true wisdom is to love, a man for whom power is to build up others and to absorb all hurts oneself, a man whose whole well-being comes from resting in God’s love and not from anything that he has in and of himself, be it race, language, clan, caste, riches, or any merits of his own. For this, that is, Jesus’ wisdom, power and well-being are gifts to him from the Father.
Today we rejoice in the fellowship of all those thousands and even millions who have tried to live in this life style. Encouraged by their example, we too try to live in the same way of following Christ to the glory of God our Father by the power of his Holy Spirit.