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Sermon for All Saints

All Saints Day Sermon

All saints together - The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman

When we think of Saints we often think of the great Saints of old, the apostles such as St Mark, St Matthew, St Luke, St Peter or the great epistle writer St Paul. Perhaps we think of saints who have been influential in the church and its development such as St Catherine, St Augustine, St Anselm, St Benedict, or St Francis.

Or perhaps if we a sports fan we just think of Southampton or Northampton! Or thinking of trains, St Pancras (of which there are two Saints!)

Quite often we think of Saints as some kind of spiritual giants, people who seemed to be closer to God than we can ever hope to be. Perhaps, more ordinarily we sometimes think of saints as those people who have helped us, perhaps in an unexpected way or done more for us that we could reasonably expect. Or those who have gone before us and passed on their faith to us.

Saints seem to come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and from lots of different backgrounds and more often than not they are ordinary people like us doing extraordinary things.

In our gospel reading for today (Mat 5 v 1 -12, the Beatitudes) Jesus speaks about saints, about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. When Jesus speaks the words known as the Beatitudes He’s not just giving a few directives and honeyed words of empty hope. He is speaking about facts and outcomes. Rosamund Brown says He speaks of a way of life for people who are ‘wading into life with both fee and sleeves rolled up.’

He speaks about the merciful, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness. People who are immersed in life and in the thick of things, speaking out and taking action, immensely worldly, yet immensely saintly like and holy. A people who have the perspective that this life is not all there is, heaven is coming on earth

They, and we, cannot live out the beatitudes without getting messy and involved.

True saints, it would seem, have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven and a balance between them. The perspective they have of heaven informs their actions on earth, and their actions on earth reveal more of the heaven they anticipate. It’s as if the light of heaven shines through in their earthly lives,

Sometimes we think if we love God more we will end up loving others more. The saints would seem to show us that the more we love each other, the more we love God.

We too are called to be saints, to emulate those who have gone before us and add to their number. We are called to be messy in the world, to live out the characteristics that Jesus spoke about in the Beatitudes.

The saints of old seem to be recognised not just for what they believed, often in the face of great opposition or cultural norms, but because of how they lived out their beliefs. For them their faith was not just an intellectual exercise but a way of life. It set them apart from others and gave them a distinctiveness that was compelling and attractive to some, but seemingly threatening to others.

Unlike the saints of old we may not be called to major demonstrations or professions of our faith, although God does often give us opportunities to speak on His behalf.

Sometimes it’s the simple acts and words which make us appear as saints to others, random acts of kindness, generosity with our time and our gifts.

None of the saints we know seem to have set out to be saints. It’s not like today where some people seem to set out to be famous, for something, anything. TV celebrities for a moment.

The saints we know set out to be true to themselves and what they believed. Faithful to God and His teachings, living them out to the best of their ability.

But as they did, they changed the world. And living the same way, so can we. Saints very much alive in today’s world. Saints that will one day join with the whole communion of saints with God.

We give thanks for all those whose faith has brought us to this place, sometimes over many years. God’s saints weave a golden thread though history. It goes back into our earliest history and will continue long into the future.

We are called to be God’s saints here on earth, to continue the golden thread of history so that other saints too may follow us in the way of God and the path of peace.