Today is "All Saints Day". From the Wikipedia article we read, "In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around 'giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints', including those who are 'famous or obscure'. As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honored, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo, and John Wesley, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one's grandmother or friend."
Because "All Saints Day" falls during the week, on Sunday we will celebrate all of our saints who have died in the past year.
At Grey Eagle UMC we will remember James Hammarsten, Ardene Reimers, Joan Rahn, and John DeZeeuw.
At Peace United Church we will remember Sandra Lawin, Ardean Christensen, Carol Blake, Adeline Jones, Adeline Schwint, and Eloise Huyink.
This past year I have also conducted the funeral service of the following people who were not members of either church: Karen Perish, Carl Stark, Mary Hanson, Leona Nelson, Violet Zimmer, Sandra Warzecha, Alvin Fortmann, Ridley Kuelbs, Sheri Lemke. Please keep their families in your prayers. Two weeks ago the family of Frances Mollner, who died in 2015, and I interred her ashes. Please keep them in your prayers also.
Our Scripture Lessons for this Sunday are:
Haggai 1:15b-2:9 - The Word of the Lord comes to the people in and around Jerusalem through the prophet Haggai. This is the time shortly after Babylon began releasing the people of Judah and allowing them to return. The Lord asks them if they remember the former glory of the Temple. Then, they should look at the rubble of that Temple. "Why", the Lord asks, "is it still that way? Work now to rebuild and its new glory will be greater than its former glory, for my spirit is with you."
Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 - The psalmist praises God for God's greatness and glory. One generation will proclaim God's glory to the next generation, for the Lord is just in all ways and kind in all things. The psalmist will speak praise for God and all humanity will bless God's holy name.
OR Psalm 98 - The psalmists call us to sing the praises of God for God is mighty and just. God has remembered the steadfast love and faithfulness that is God's way. All of creation will make a joyful noise for the Lord.
OR Job 19:23-27a - Job cries out that he wishes his words were inscribed in a book for he knows that his Redeemer (Vindicator) lives and that the Redeemer will stand on this earth. Job proclaims that even after his skin has been destroyed his flesh will behold God.
Psalm 17:1-9 - The psalmist cries out to the Lord for deliverance from his enemies. He claims that there is no deceit or wickedness in his heart. He asks God to protect him from his enemies who surround him.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 - In the early days of Christianity, the disciples and apostles, like Paul, believed in the eminent return of Jesus Christ to set the world right. When Paul brought the Good News, Gospel, to the people at Thessaloniki that was one of the things he taught them. His first letter to them might be the first document to be written in the New Testament. That letter reaffirmed the belief that Jesus would return very soon. In our reading in this second letter, Paul asks the church to continue believing in spite of the passage of time or the claims of others to be God (the emperors in Rome). God's rule will come and the deceiver will be defeated. Then Paul reminds them that they have been chosen by God for salvation (through Jesus) and sanctification (by the Spirit) and should therefore remain steady in their faith and proclamation.
Luke 20:27-38 - Jesus has entered into Jerusalem, wept about the fate of Jerusalem, and cleared the Temple of the businessmen. (19:28-46) Luke reports that Jesus taught at temple the days following his entry. In our reading, the Sadducees, who don't believe in the general resurrection, challenge Jesus about the resurrection and centers around the levirate law. (If a man dies before his wife has a son she must marry his brother so the first brother can have a son through the second.) In their scenario, a woman marries a man who has six brothers. He dies before she has a son. She marries the second who dies before kids. So the third through seventh brothers. (If you were brother #4, 5, 6, or 7 would you really want to marry her? Haha!) They ask Jesus, "In the resurrection whose wife will she be?" Jesus side-steps their question by saying there will be no marriage for all will be children of God and children of the resurrection. Jesus then quotes Exodus 3:6 to state that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. God, speaking to Moses, says, I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" implying that they still live as opposed to "I WAS the God of those who are dead."
Who is God to you? A God of the living or a God of the dead? Who is Jesus to you? Will Jesus return soon or will the waiting continue? In the mean time, what do you do?
May the Lord God Creator, Jesus the Christ, God's Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are together One God, bless you in your work and in your play, in your coming and in your going, and in the people you meet along the way. Amen.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor