ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY, Sunday November 3, 2019
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia! In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
Here at the eve of my fourth anniversary with you, I gotta say that it is very gratifying to be able to baptize three small people this morning. Many of you know that it has been my vision since joining you in 2015 to help steer the parish towards being a place where children and their families can encounter the saving Gospel of Jesus. Emmanuel, after all, has long been a place where students have been welcome and it is an honor to be part of Emmanuel’s inheritance in that regard.
That word, ‘inheritance’ has been on my mind over the past couple of weeks, having considered the epistle to the Ephesians. I’m particularly interested in the idea that the saints are the ones who are inheritors of God’s eternal purposes, which by nature includes the redemption of the world in Christ, and which is powered in us by the same life that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.
I think that’s worth our reflection this morning. What we are doing this All Saints’ Sunday is not just splashing some kids with warm water and saying some cool sounding words. We are not just inviting these children and their families into the life of Christ’s redeemed people, the Church. We are actually, actively, a part of God’s working in their lives, even now, to participate fully in the new life of the risen Christ, the new life enjoyed by the holy people of God throughout time and in all places. We are witness to something can seem routine at first: we are a church, we baptize people. But Paul wrote to his friends in Ephesus, and therefore to us all these years later, that the saints can expect and call upon an “immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe” which is the same power that God revealed in raising Jesus Christ from the dead, Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our salvation. It’s big stuff, and we do well, as saints in this place, to be truly present to it this morning (even if it is happening in the next service).
So, if these children to be baptized are claiming an inheritance, promised to them by God in Christ in this marvelous sacrament, and if there is a room full of baptized people witnessing and encouraging them, what are we to do? I suppose one possibility is to enjoy the liturgy, sing the songs, admire these adorable children, and kind of slide back into the rodent relay of Monday through Friday. That’s ok, and I suppose we have to start somewhere. But what if we, the baptized people of God, the saints carrying the inheritance of the resurrection of Jesus rejoined the week ready to upend the harshness and animosity of late 2019 by loving our enemies, doing good to those that hate us, by praying for those that seek our demise? A workplace, a school, a church that was just sprinkled with folks who acted on the inheritance of their baptism by being open to Christ’s incredible vision of kindness would be a place that would be marked- just as we are marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit- as a place where there is some real good in the world. And no rule or authority or power or dominion can even come close to coming at us when we stick together; because the name all the saints have on their lips, that holy name of Jesus, has all “things under his feet and has made” and is the “head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Beloved, take that with you this morning. Together, these kids, you all, me, we have an inheritance to share with the world; which is the very Kingdom of God. That which assails us, the world, the flesh, the devil, even death itself, may momentarily wound but can never defeat a Kingdom whose king rules from the heavenly places; whose king has gifted us the fullness of his power for our work together. As we conclude this All Hallows Tide with the baptism of three kids, let us rejoice and give praise to God who promises that the “holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.”
Thanks for a great 4 years of ministry and I pray for yet more to come by God’s mercy and loving kindness.
To Him be all glory. Amen.
The Very Rev. David Bumsted
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
1603 E Winter Park Rd.
Orlando, FL 32803