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Sermon for All Saints

The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman

Trick or Treat?

Jesus – Trick or Treat

Dogs must be the most optimistic animals in the world. Have you noticed that whenever the doorbell rings, they’re the first to the door, and it’s never for them. But it doesn’t stop them going back time after time after time.

So Wednesday evening must have been a very tiring night for them! Because on Wednesday we had lots of rings on the doorbell from children who were ringing on Halloween, ‘All Hallows Eve’, asking, ‘Trick or Treat?’

After the first one or two, when you work out what’s going on, the question then becomes, ‘Do I go to the door and answer the bell in case it’s someone who really does want to speak to me?’

Did anyone go Trick or Treating? Did you get any treats? Here are some just in case you didn’t

Trick or Treat probably started on the West Coast of the US around the 1920 and slowly moved East, with a brief hiatus dung the war and the sugar shortage until it hit the UK several years ago.

And whilst we may think it’s relatively new to the UK, strangely enough, it’s similar to a Medieval practice called ‘Souling’ where the poor people of the neighbourhood would know on the doors of the richer people and offer to say prayers for the dead in exchange for food

It’s an interesting link, because as we think of All Souls and All Saints in our service today, all those who have died in the faith, at All Hallows time we really have to decide whether Jesus Himself was a Trick or a Treat. Is our faith just a delusion propagated over the centuries by other self deluded and misguided individuals

Is it, is Jesus, perhaps, just some cruel trick of the theologians, historians and the church, to keep the establishment going as they claim Him to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the world…

…or is He really the Son of God who gives us access to a better life through a relationship with God, and therefore the biggest treat God could ever offer the world? And therefore is our faith true and real?

Logically, He has to be one of he two options, there is no in between. Either He is who He says he is or He is not.

When we look at all the information we have about Jesus, not just from the bible but from lots of other sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, secular historians of the time such as Josephus and lots of other documentary fragments of information, its clear that someone called Jesus did indeed exist at the time that the bible claims He did

So, is the trick perhaps who He claimed to be, the Son of God. Was he really that unique? There were lots of so called miracle workers and prophets around at the time, what made Jesus special?

What makes Him unique is that from what we read in the bible, and in other places, He really did transform peoples’ lives, He healed people, He taught in an authoritative manner, He challenged the authorities and above all He showed an uncompromising love for everyone in the world and the whole of creation which would ultimately lead to his death. In short, He claimed that He was the Son of God Himself made manifest on earth.

Oh, and He was crucified, rose from the dead, and go out of from a tomb that was guarded by Romans who would be killed if they let anything happen to the body of Jesus.

In fact, if He’d been a can of Ronseal we’d say He did exactly what it said on the tin. What He said He would do, He did, what He said would happen, really did

So again, if we look at the evidence, at the lives He transformed, the people who have been healed, at the church itself, which would stand no chance of survival if it wasn’t for a loving God (with a great sense of humour!) it’s clear that Jesus is who He claims to be.

He transformed lives then and He continues to transform lives through the ages and even now. He continues to show the world His love through those that follow Him, His saints, through His church, and through that love He continues to transform individuals, society and the world

So rather than being a trick, He is the biggest Treat God could ever offer the world, transforming lives, transforming society and transforming the world

And whilst we and the world might not be perfect, it’s not the finished article yet

Paul calls the faithful in Ephesians, all the Saints. All who believe in Jesus are His Saints, even though we are still sinners, because we’re not perfect yet

And just like the Trick or Treaters, every day Jesus stands at the door or our lives and rings the bell

But just as when the Trick or Treaters come around, we have a choice to make, do we respond to the ring at the door or do we ignore it. Do we open the door, perhaps for the first time, or for the umpteenth time and let God in a little bit further into out lives.

What do we do? Do we let Jesus, the biggest treat that God gave the world, a little more into our lives day be day, or do we hope He will go away if we don’t respond

Do we want to enjoy more of the treat of God, or do we want to collude with the world, perhaps believe the trick that many people would like us to believe, that Jesus was not who He said He was, that religion is a con

Or do we let ourselves be treated by God

Trick or Treat – it’s your choice