November 04, 2018
Twenty Fourth Sunday After Pentecost/ All Saints Day
Pastor SeokCheol Shin
Come to the Table – “Dedication”
Who Are Saints?
Today is “All Saints Sunday.” It is a day when we remember all those who have gone on before us to their eternal homes in heaven. It is also a day when we gather to give thanks for the life and ministry of the saints who have blessed our lives, our communities, and our world in the name of Jesus Christ.
What makes a person a saint? Who deserves to be called a saint? When we think of a saint, there comes to mind a picture of people in ancient costumes with halos around their heads, which make them look “holy.” Is that really right that people called “saints” in the Bible are holy and good enough before God and people?
Today’s prayer for the Holy Communion gives us the list of saints: “God of Abraham and Sarah, God of Miriam and Moses, God of Joshua and Deborah, God of Ruth and David, God of the priests and the prophets, God of Mary and Joseph, God of the apostles and the martyrs…” One of them is King David. As a poet, he wrote many wonderful Psalms that still give us inspiration today. As a king, he protected Israel and led his people to keep the covenant of God. But we also know his sinful life. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and to hide his crime David murdered her husband Uzziah.
If we concentrate on the idea that saints are very holy and good people, nearly perfect like Jesus Christ, then we miss the point in Jesus’ teachings and ministry. However positive we may feel about ourselves, who can really say, “I am holy and good enough to be a saint.” The saints I know never show me a halo around their heads but show me their faith in Jesus Christ. The life of saints is not about good enough but about dedicated enough!
Dedication means that you have a special focus on something. It is the sort of emphasis you want to put on your hobbies, your favorite sports, your business, or even perhaps on your personal relationship with someone. You dedicate all your lives to those you love. Likewise, if we really love Jesus Christ, then we will be dedicated enough to serving his teachings and ministry. That ministry can take many forms, such as our Leap of Faith Concert, Grove Street Music Project, and the Trunk or Treat we open to the children in the community.
Saints in Jesus’ Teaching and Ministry
The ultimate goal of Jesus’ ministry is bringing God’s kingdom on earth. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” This prayer reminds us that God’s kingdom is not only a special place in heaven where we enter after we die but it is also a present reality that we can experience here in our world. Who can lead us and work for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world?
The primary people we can think of might be political leaders of the world. By election, we choose them to lead our country. We give them a right to make all kinds of major decisions and even declare wars and peace in the world. According to their leadership, the world history has been changed. So we tend to think that our national leaders are the movers of our country and the world history.
But this is not true to Jesus’ political viewpoint. In today’s Gospel lesson, he speaks about who deserves and brings God’s kingdom on earth: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (vv. 20-23).
Poverty, hunger, sorrow, hatred, exclusion, and persecution – we don’t want to say these are blessings! Listening to Jesus’ sermon, some people may raise their hands in objection and say, “We don’t want to entrust our country to a bunch of those losers. They don’t know the first thing about business, politics, military or what it takes to run a government.”
But Jesus maintains that those innocent folks are the sorts of people to whom the Kingdom of God is entrusted. How and why? They can endure all those sufferings and persecutions because they are dedicated to Jesus Christ. As they are dedicated to him, they can be also dedicated to Jesus’ teachings: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (vv. 27-30).
As I am also concerned about how to establish God’s kingdom here in our world, I really support and agree with Jesus’ sermon today. Think about this; if we really can love our enemies, is there anyone we don’t want to love and forgive? If we really have hearts to love our enemies and even bless them in prayer, I am sure that we will be passionate enough to bring peace and reconciliation to this broken and violent world, so that we can make our world better and better and better.
Dedicated to Jesus Christ
So today, on this “All Saints Day,” let us recognize again that we are privileged to be called saints not because we are holy and good enough but because we have Jesus Christ who is dedicated enough for the sake of our forgiveness and salvation. The life of saints begins when we are also dedicated to Jesus Christ and his teachings of God’s Kingdom.
“Dedication” is our first step to make our life more saintly. Afterwards, we may receive a power to work for God’s kingdom in a way that we forgive and even love our enemies. We can start and fulfill this holy life of saints when we are dedicated to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.