18 December 2008

All Souls - Sermon

The Inheritance of all the Souls before us

1 Peter 1: 3-9

By Paul Tinker

Lord in your mercy you provide to us new birth into the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ – May we offer our thoughts, words and deeds in thanksgiving and in honour of the faith that you have in us.             Amen


“An inheritance that is …




                                                Kept in Heaven for you”


Today is All Souls day

And those God inspired words of Peter from our epistle lesson today lay out for me the role of the Souls that have gone before us…

            And ultimately the task that is set out for us



We live in this western society that holds hard and fast to the notion of - competition

            And to it’s companion ideal of “what have you done for me lately

                        We can easily be defined by our latest output

By the tasks that are most immediately behind us and how well we did in achieving them


We have just finished in this country a federal election

One, which was executed well by the returning government – spending millions with the sole goal of getting a slightly stronger minority government but in the process weakening their opponent

            The conservatives were the winners

                        And that is what we will remember – that is what grabs our attention

We look to the leader of the Liberals Stephan Dion, as the loser

and “what he has done lately” as insufficient and well – He needs to go

                        Never mind all the good and the ideals that he stood for over his career

                                    No – loser – time to go


And tomorrow is the final day of uncertainty to our neighbours in the south

            They will elect a new winner and set the fate of the loser forever

                        Rarely does a losing presidential hopeful run again

                                    It has been said that ‘History is always written by the winners’


Many, might point to the natural world and say that is merely the design of creation

            The theory of evolution is based on the strong surviving for the good of the species

That the weaker thans are to be a brief moment in history often not even making a mark on history


Before I was called into ordained ministry

            I was worked in various sales jobs, spending most of my time in the IT industry

For most of my business career, in the eyes of my employers, I was lead to believe, that it was not about doing my best, but about the bottom line

Each month, our sales numbers were closely monitored

At the beginning of the month was the message to work hard to start the month off strong,

As the month progressed – mine and the others were tracked against the forecasts, percentages closely scrutinized

And by the end of the month there was always the underlined message that sales were all that mattered and the fear that we were only a couple of bad months away from unemployment

I believe that many of you today can relate to that type of environment – whether it be at work – school or whatever you are involved with


It is there in most of the sports we do

            Now I understand that the very nature of sport is competition

But it could be so much more than reduced to the lowest common denominator

When I come back from playing squash – no one has ever asked me if I:

·      effectively dealt with my stress

·      or did I achieve a good heart-rate to help with the long term health of my heart

·      or maybe was I feeling good and moving fluidly and connecting well with the ball

            No - what everyone asks – How’d you do – did ya win?


Competition and ‘what have you done for me lately’ is everywhere

·      It is there at work

·      It is there at homes ‘keeping up with the Jones’

·      It is in our politics

·      It is in our schooling – our value somehow connected to the grade on a report

·      It is a main part for much of our leisure time in the sports we do


And yet, it is so temporal

            So limited to the moment

                        And fleeting away the farther we get from the recent success


But we Christians are given something more – something beyond the temporal


You see competition or trials are not inherently bad

            Peter writes


        although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials,

so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


            The trials that Peter is writing about is ‘life’ – earthly existence

Whether that be the big moments in life which we can look to suffering in health of either - mind – body or spirit

Or the daily trials of living as fallen people in a fallen world


Because in God’s great mercy – we are given new birth – we are baptized into Christ

            Our genuineness is being refined

Tested in a refiners fire

            Where the impurities of the contaminated gold are burned away

                        Faith is what is left

                                    And striving for God’s ways, righteousness, the byproduct of that faith


I draw you back to the fact that we mark today as ‘All Souls Day’

The day in which later in the service we will read the necrology / the memorial list of those that have died this year.

Members of our family, friends and people in which being connected to this parish family of St Luke was important

            Let us consider what they really left behind


I would like to illustrate this by an email story that I received last week



I'm invisible. The invisible Parent. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this?  Can you tie this?  Can you open this?

I'm a clock to ask,' What time is it?' 

I'm a TV guide to answer,
'What number is the Disney Channel?' 

I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ... She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.  It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.  I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

‘with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fuelled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

As I read the book, I have this feeling that the missing piece has fallen into place.  It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.  No act of kindness you've done, no house cleaning or laundry, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.' 

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.  But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.  It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.  It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.  As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

When I really think about it, I don't want my children to tell the friend they are bringing home - my parents’ do this and do that for us and our home. That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want them
to want to come home.  And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As parents, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. 



For those of you that are not parents I hope that you were able to consider how you are or could be a parental or guiding figure to someone else

            Consider your own cathedrals – and to whom cathedrals are built for


As we consider the souls that have gone before us

            As we consider the foundation in the Faith that they have helped to establish

                        The most important inheritance that they have provided

                                    And as we remember that God inspired words of St. Peter


“An inheritance that is …

            Imperishable                        Undefiled            Unfading            Kept in Heaven for you”

who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,

to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time…

you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,

as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls.



O God, the king of saints, we praise and glorify your holy name, for all your servants, who have finished their course in your faith and fear, the disciples, the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles and martyrs and for all your other righteous servants know to us and unknown, and we pray that encouraged by their  examples aided by their prayers and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light through the merits of your son Jesus Christ, our Lord - Amen

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