Today is All Saints Sunday ... the day we observe our patronal feast at All Saints Church with a Requiem Eucharist, solemn prayers and the 'Book of Rembrance' listing all those we love but see no longer placed on the altar along with the other oblations of our lives and labor.
The rector's sermon was entitled "Life is changed, not ended." You can watch it here.
And this year the music was the extraordinarily moving Lauridsen "Lux aeterna" -- and we were blessed by not only our fabulous choir but a chamber orchestra on the chancel ... made possible by a bequest received this year from one of those listed in the red Book of Remembrance: George Unger.
George was not a church goer and not an All Saints member. But his best friend Danny is -- and it was in thanksgiving for that friendship and for the leadership All Saints provides on inclusion that George make All Saints one of the beneficiaries of his estate.
And so today as I was privileged to be part of an extraordinary liturgy of live and love and hope and beauty I thought about George. And Art and Bob and Lucile and Rod and all those we lost this year. Only, of course, they're not really "lost." I still remember an All Saints Day sermon from years and years ago when the preacher reminded us that when something is "lost" it means we don't know where it is. And so none of these beloved of God are "lost" ... we know where they are. With the one who created them in love and then loved us enough to come and show us how to love one another.
And our response to that love was spelled out in the opening words of this morning's liturgy:
"Grant us so to follow thy blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys which thou has prepared for those who unfeignedily love thee."For those who unfeignedly love thee. Not for those who pass some theology quiz. Not for those who digest the right dogma. Not for those who second guess God about who's welcome at the banquet table and who's not. For those who unfeignedly love thee.
un·feigned adj \-ˈfānd\And what does that look like ... to "unfeignedly love?"
Definition of UNFEIGNED
: not feigned or hypocritical : genuine
Jesus told us. In the 25th Chapter of Matthew. "Inasmuch as you've done it unto the least of these, you've done it unto me." To the hungry. The cold. The sick. The lonely. The outcast. The stranger. The naked. The prisoner. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.
So here's to all the saints -- who from their labors rest. Hapy All Saints Sunday!