With God in Love Forever-Rev. Judy’s Homily All Soul’s Day Sunday Nov. 2,2014
With God in Love Forever- All Soul’s Sunday 11/2/14
“I will lose none of those given to me, but rather raise them up…” John 6:39-40
Placing the NAMES in Basket
As we begin our celebration today each one will write the names of loved ones who have died and gone before us and place them in the basket on the altar. Our Mass is dedicated to our loved ones who are with God in Love forever and whom we sometimes miss very much as we continue on here. Already in the basket are the names of those members of our community who died, particularly those who died homeless for whom we make special prayers. With this we include our prayers to end homelessness here and everywhere: Andrew Johnson, Ray Ray, Tammy Grimes, Carl Two Dogs, John Woods, Tom Ashley, Jim Root, Manuel Guerra, Sofia, John Locke/ Festus and all whose names we do not know. We also include our prayers for those we know who died of gun violence this year: Mr. Gary’s sons and little Andrew Faust. We pray that we may learn the way of Love that ends homelessness and violence.
Today we celebrate all who have gone before us in Christ and we also celebrate the central tenets of our faith. We do not believe in a dead prophet, we believe in the risen and living Christ. And because he lives we too shall live. Christ came to give us life that begins right here where we work and pray for God’s kin-dom to come. And if we believe and love this Christ, remembering the Aramaic word for believe means to believe in, follow, and love, then he will not let go of us throughout all eternity. Life for us is both now and forever. Jesus the Christ will never lose us, but will raise us up. Christ will raise us up from the deaths we die every day when life hurts,when we fail to choose or embrace life, and from our “final” death. As we think of all our beloved departed and of our own mortality, this brings great comfort and hope.
Walking the road of faith in and with Christ is not an easy one. We are asked to give it all away and to work hard loving and serving the least among us. We are asked to love when it is too hard to do, to forgive, to go the second mile. We do not sit around on our laurels dreaming of an afterlife, of pie in the sky bye and bye. We are fully engaged in loving one another here and now. But the time comes when it is time to lay our lives down. And the time comes when we lose loved ones, and when we lose those persons who guided us and taught us the Gospel and the way of Love. We miss them with all our hearts and it is God with us and the promise of uniting and reuniting in Love that keeps us going on. God did not bring us this far to leave us.
We are going to sing a song: Because He Lives. I remember the first time I heard the song “Because He Lives”(by Bill and Gloria Gaither). It was in a black Roman Catholic Church in Hartford Connecticut in the late 1980’s. Our sister Cyrillia Maxwell Rismay who worships with us now was one of the choir members. The voices are strong and full of the meaning of the words. I knew that the Pastor, a wonderful people’s priest named Father Al Jaenicke, and all who sang had lived every word of it and that the living Christ made all the difference in the world to them. The centrality of this hope and this belief resonated throughout the congregation and in me. It re-affirmed my call to serve. On the Gaither.com website there is a video of a group of school kids in Uganda singing this song with all their hearts. Their hope and their security in what the song calls living in “uncertain days” is built upon the resurrection of Christ Jesus. When our people sing it we will affirm the risen living Christ together. And fear and doubt will drop away like the falling tears. Our hurting congregation and all who hurt and fear find strength when we embrace the risen Christ. This is the chorus:
“Because He lives,
I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives,
All fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!”
We are an Easter people, a resurrection people, we embrace life and hope now and forever.
We are promised a forever with God. The Jewish Greeks living before Christ believed that the souls of the just are in God’s hands and the faithful will abide with God in love forever (Wisdom 3:1-9). We are indeed with God in love, now and forever. With Christ we are assured of life and of rising again. We were baptized into Christ, into his death and his rising again, and are assured of living as he lives.(Romans 6:3-9). It is this life we claim as Christians, this forever life with our Love, thanks be to God! Thanks be to God for the reality of the risen Christ! Amen.