As we Celebrate the feasts of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, I am reminded by our prayer that we “rejoice with them in the sure hope of the Resurrection to the fullness of eternal life.”
We believe that eternal life begins with Baptism. Eternal life is not the afterlife of other philosophies but is “life in Christ” and it is now and, in the future, it is permanent. Of course, we believe that, by grace, we will spend eternity with God in heaven through our faith in Jesus Christ, but this is not a reward for the way we live here, it is a gift from God which we receive because He loves us. The implication of this is that we no longer live just for the now, but we live within the context of all time, we are the communion of saints which means that our context is not just November 2019, but all of eternity. Today is not a standalone event, but a complex relationship of past present and future all expressed in the now. I think we would do well to be reminded of this. Our definition of “remember” is to recall the past into the present and reinterpret the present, and of course the future by putting our lives in context. Today as you think back on your life and the people in it who have shaped you, influenced you affected you, as you remember that you are “part of the Body” you are called again to forgive and to be grateful and to be humble and to honour those who God has blessed you with. Someone gave his life so that you could read a bible in your own language. Someone gave his live so that your ancestors could be freed from slavery, someone gave her life so that heathen natures could hear the Gospel. Someone lived and died and experienced life, so that you could learn from them, receive the benefit of their victories and the hindsight of their “lessons learned.”
We are all intricately woven into the fabric of life and we all have a part to play. Let us remember that what we do today will have eternal consequences. What we forgive will be forgiven and what we do not forgive will not be forgiven. What we tolerate will become norm and what we stand up for, will be treasured.
Each generation is remembered and loved (and blamed) for something. What do you want this generation to be remembered for? What are you doing towards the “life that you want” the world as you want it to be?
Christians have a huge responsibility to bear witness to God’s presence in the world. Christians need to be the symbols of the Hope that is in Jesus Christ. We have to be building a community within the Church if we are to be effective in living the resurrected life. We have to be creating an alternative culture, different to the world around us. We cannot stay in the world and its ways and follow Christ. That is a contradiction and brings conflict within. I have always believed that we “convert” to Christianity, not “amalgamate” Christian belief into our lives. How are you “dying to self” (converting) so that you can “Live in Christ?”
It is time for us as the people of God to change the conversation and realize that we are be called out of the world to serve God. This month we will focus on stewardship and thanksgiving for the privileges of being part of the Body of Christ through the local church. As we give thanks to God for our inclusion in the faith community past, present and future, as we give thanks to God for the inheritance of faith that we have received, let us all recommit ourselves to the work of being church. Let us recommit ourselves to the building of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is built when we give of ourselves to God’s purposes, when we live a life that is worthy of our calling when we act and respond as a community of faith bringing hope and peace and reconciliation to the world. In a body each part must fulfill its role! I encourage you to prayerfully consider what that role is, what is God calling you to? But at the risk of stating the obvious the primary function of any part of the body is to remain in the body, to work for the body’s well being. We need to stop seeing ourselves as separate. Life in Christ is personal but not individual!
We need to stop being a people who simply attend a church, we need to be a people who are the church. We need to commit to living a life of gratitude for what Christ has won for us! We are not building a church for someone else, we are creating our own spiritual home, where we can receive love and support and guidance and help for this life. When we fulfill our role then the whole world will benefit. Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you!
I say this often and I repeat it now – Think about the thing that you most want to get out of being part of the church. What are you doing to make that part of the church? Do you want the church to be a place where you are accepted? How tolerant are you of others- how hospitable and open are you?
Do you want the Church to be a place where you learn about the faith? How committed are you to reading your Bible, joining a bible study, seeking guidance? You have to be part of making the Church what you want it to be. It’s not a supermarket where you come and buy what you want – it’s a farm where you sow your desires and nurture then and God provides a harvest.
We live in a consumer society where we go and get what we want and take it for ourselves, and sadly we can treat Church like just another service provider. But this is where we need a “conversion!” The way of God is not the way of the world, the church is not a spiritual service provider. It is a body, a family, a community of saints (forgiven sinners). It is a place where we receive healing through others, receive hope through others, where we find peace with ourselves and others, it’s about relationship; because Christ is all and in all and through all reconciling the world to Himself.
May we respond to Christ by being committed to building His community here on earth as it is in heaven.
Give yourselves to prayer, give yourselves to the task of seeking God’s will for your life.
Allow God to convert your thinking and draw all people to Him.
Is God known in your school, office block or home?
Is He worshiped there?
Is His hope evident there?
Wherever you are today – God is sending you to make it a place of prayer, a place that honours God! You don’t have to convert the world around you, you have to live as one who is converted in the world around you. You need to live out the values and the ideals and the truth that our community lives by – you need to know Jesus and make Him known. For we are the Church, the Church in the community, and the community in the Church.