Monday, November 8, 2010

Forgiven Saints

Since today is All Saints Sunday I looked up what the criteria was for becoming an official saint like St. Francis.
I thought that we would go over it together in case anyone here wanted to try and become a saint.
First, you have to die.
Then people who thought you were extra Holy when you were alive have to pray to you.
And then you have to perform a miracle.
And then you have to perform another miracle.
Finally, after all this is verified then you can become a saint.
I think it is a pretty complex process.
I like Martin Luther’s definition much better, “A saint is someone forgiven by Jesus Christ.”
By that criteria everyone in worship this morning is a saint.
It is why we read that long list of people’s loved ones this morning.
Not because they were perfect people who always did the right thing.
But because they were people that had faith in God, and taught us about faith.
Saints of God given that title not by their deeds but by the virtue of being forgiven by God.

St. Paul tells us this morning in his letter t the Ephesians that we are given an inheritance.
Each of us have been given by God something so wonderfully magnificent that it is more important than any amount of money that our parents could give us.
It is an inheritance that gives us the power to live for the praise and glory of God.
That is what I would like us to focus on this morning the immeasurable power that God gives to us.
We don’t really talk about it enough.
I for the last two weeks have been reminding everyone that they are sinners.
Today I want to remind you of the other side of the coin.
Each of you are also saints.
All of you have an immeasurable power.
Power to love, to forgive, to teach, to lead, to be the people of God.
It is not a power that you can conjure up, but one that is given to you by God.
I bet that the saints that have gone before us could tell us about that power.
They would tell us that having Jesus in their life gave them the ability to face hardships.
They will tell us that having Jesus in their life gave them the ability to give their love to others.
They will tell us that having Jesus in their life made it possible to get out of bed each morning with joy in their heart.
They will tell us that having Jesus in their life made it possible to hope for a better tomorrow.

Think about the people in your life who have shared God’s love with you.
Maybe your grandmother, or aunt, or teacher, or pastor, or parent, or friend.
What they will have in common is that you felt the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through them.
When you were with them you felt that power.
You felt like nothing could go wrong.
It was not them it was God’s inheritance that gave them this power.

Do not be fooled because you all have it, in your baptisms God gave it to you.
Who have you been an example to in your faith journey?
What youth have you taken time to talk to and take an interest in?
What person have you taken time to share God’s love with?

In this congregation there are so many people doing such powerful work.
For example, there is a team of people working with a refuge family in Concord.
This team of people is inspirational to me.
The time they put in to help, the way that they are making a difference in the life of this family, the love that they are showing, and the care they are spreading.
To me they are doing more than merely driving someone from place to place, or showing a new family how to navigate the system.
They are participating in God’s power.
By sharing themselves they are welcoming new people into our community, they are giving love and care.
It has been a wonderful thing to be a part of, and an outstanding testament to the power of God.
This is what we are about together living out our faith by showing others the power of God.

On the one hand our life together as a faith community is about forgiveness we offer to each other.
On the other hand it is also about living in the power of God by doing things that show’s others God’s love.
Those things have an effect on people it matters.
It matters to young people when we take time to share God’s love with them.
It matters to refugees when we show them that they are welcome in the city of Concord.
It matters to an elderly person when we take time to listen to their stories.
It matters to God that we use our power to help others.

Yesterday, at the youth event we had at our congregation that brought together youth from Lutheran Churches in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire the youth made foot prints that I have left on the floor for you to see this morning.
They wrote on one foot someone who taught them about the Good News of Jesus Christ.
And on the other they wrote what inspires them to share the Good News with others.
The youth had various answers some wrote their parents, some pastors, some other adults they had known.
We all have had these people in our lives.
We all have Saints who have shared their faith with us in powerful ways that make us who we are today.
We all walk in the footsteps of other saints who have trod this way before.
Walking in the footsteps of the Saints gives us the assurance that we don’t walk alone.
We always walk with others, behind others, in front of others, and most importantly we walk with God.

This speaks to the power of God in our lives.
That God sends us people to teach us about faith, and inspires us to continue sharing the power of that faith with others.
This morning I want us to think of the names that we read at the beginning of worship this morning.
How they taught us and inspired us to know God’s power.
Today we stand in that company of saints and we receive the inheritance of faith.

That faith is not only for dead people but for us who are alive now
Saints are not only dead people.
Paul calls people in the church who are alive saints as well.
In our lives now we live as saints in the power of God.
This week think of the people on that list that taught you about Jesus.
Think about the power that had in your life.
And then think about how this week you are going to share with others the power of Jesus Christ in your life.
This week look for the ways that God is inspiring you to continue to be the saint that you are.
This week use the power of God to show others the Good News.

We have been given an inheritance.
It is the grace of God.
Because of that every day we have the power to love others.
Every day we have the power to be a Saint of God and inspire someone else in their lives of faith.
This is what it means to be the body of Christ.
As we live as God’s people and are the Church we share God’s power.
Let us go forth and inspire others so they might know the power of God.

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