Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Eve

 Preached at community ecumenical service, at Faith Lutheran Church, Massillon OH

Thanksgiving, 2021
Joel 2:21-27
Psalm 126
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Matthew 6:25-33

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 So here’s a weird thing.  Thanksgiving is a day set aside for us to give thanks for the abundance in our lives.  But this gospel reading we just heard seems to focus our attention on scarcity.  Most people spend Thanksgiving cooking way too much food, rather than worrying about not having enough.  So why do we get this reading on this day?  What gives?

Well, I think the answer lies in the word “worry.”  Some of the people most focused on wealth are the people with the most wealth.  Billionaires who spend all their time worrying about how to become the world’s first Trillionaire.  This gospel reading sounds like Jesus is preaching to the poor folks, but I think he’s preaching even harder to the rich people.  Why are you worried about your fancy clothes and your banquet table and your fancy house and your stock options?  It’s not that you don’t have enough; it’s that you have too much.

What I really like about this reading is the part about the birds.  They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns.  But if you’ve ever watched the activity around a bird feeder, you know that birds definitely put in the effort to find food.  It’s not like the food comes to them.  They look for food, and they find food, and they eat food.  But what they don’t do is store up food for tomorrow.  They don’t worry about tomorrow . . . because they don’t even know what a “tomorrow” is, right?

Birds don’t have pockets or purses or barns.  So they live day to day.  And then there’s us.  We’re supposed to not only plan for today tomorrow and next week, we’re supposed to plan for our retirement and—as any life insurance agent will tell you—even plan for our death!  Every message we get about responsible adulting is focused on the future.  What will tomorrow bring?  Think about the grandchildren you don’t even have yet.  You and I are a long way from this sort of “Hippie lessons of the Buddha” that Jesus is giving us today.  It’s hard to know how to apply it to our lives, to be honest.

We are told, in essence, “Don’t worry because God provides.”  Well, okay, how does God provide?  I’m afraid we all secretly think God provides in the way of manna in the desert.  You know, like when I’m hungry, a can of soup will just fall from the sky.  When I need a parking spot, God will magically provide one.  But hopefully we all agree, that’s not the case.  How does God provide?  I think the answer is, God provides through other people.  

Here’s a great example:  One thing I am very thankful for this year is a safe, effective vaccine available to anyone who wants it.  And you know who made that possible?  Other people.  God imbues us with wisdom and knowledge and creativity, and people used those to create a vaccine that will save millions of lives.  God provides through other people.  But it takes people being willing to use their God-given gifts to make a difference.

And, for an example on the other end of things, there is no reason anyone anywhere should starve to death when there are other people around.  There is plenty of food in the world to feed every person every day.  And yet . . . well, you’ve seen the news.  We have the food, and we have the people to distribute it, but something gets lost along the way.

Either way, it all comes down to people.  The reason you’re even here in this church tonight is because somebody told you about Jesus.  When you were a child, somebody might have taken you to church.  When you were a baby, somebody definitely fed you, since newborns are even more helpless than the birds of the air.  Other people have brought you to where you are today.  God has given us each other.

At Thanksgiving we express our gratefulness for the many blessings of this life.  Out of habit, we show that mostly by covering our tables with more food than we can possibly eat in one sitting.  But one of the greatest gifts, possibly the most tangible blessing in our lives, is that God has given us each other.  And when we have people in our lives who love us, who reflect love of Jesus back to us, then we don’t have to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear.  Because even though we don’t know what the future will bring, we know we are walking into that future together.

May God make us always grateful that we have each other.  And may God inspire each one of us to reach out to others, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.  We are the ones through whom God provides.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

YEAR B 2021 christ the king

Christ the King, 2021
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading is all about power.  There’s the obvious power struggle between Pilate and Jesus, and there’s the background power struggle between Pilate and the Jewish leaders.  And there’s an overall power struggle between the Jewish people and Rome.  Lots of power being thrown around, and it’s hard to tell who’s actually going to win in the end.

I grew up in the city of Niagara Falls NY, and was surrounded by natural power.  We had this massive waterfall—perhaps you’ve heard of it—powerful in it’s own right.  Safe to look at from a distance, but if you get in the way of its flow, you will be swept away.  And thanks to Nikola Tesla, the power of that water was harnessed into the power of electricity.  And electricity, like the waterfall that generates it, is powerful in its own right.  Safe to use in daily life, but get in the way of its flow and you will be electrocuted.  

It is the nature of powerful things to sweep over us.  You think of a tsunami, or a hurricane, or Rome in Jesus’ day.  You can stand in the way of such things, but they will sweep you away without so much as a ripple.  Powerful things cannot be resisted, like electricity, earthquakes, and the IRS.  You might step out of the way, or leave town, or direct the energy elsewhere, but when power hits you head on with its relentless force, there really is nothing you can do.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is being held captive.  He’s kind of on trial, being interrogated by the one in power.  Pilate has the power to decide what happens to Jesus.  The power of life and death over Jesus.  He says, “Your own people handed you over to me.”  Your own people have put you in the path of my power, and you will now be swept away without a ripple.  Do you not understand the force of my awesome power?

And the two of them have the strangest conversation.  Pilate keeps asking questions that seem designed to help him justify putting Jesus to death, but the answers make it sound like the two of them are each talking to someone else.  Like they’re not using the same rules of conversation or something.  Pilate asks if Jesus is the King of the Jews.  Jesus asks if he’s asking on his own or if someone else told him about him.  Pilate says, I’m not a Jew; what have you done?  Jesus answers, My kingdom is not of this world.  Pilate asks, “So you are a king?”  Jesus answers, “You say that I am a king.”  But “I testify to the truth.”
This is not a normal conversation.

We would expect Jesus to be talking his way out of getting killed.  We would expect him to be trying to step out of the way of Pilate’s tidal wave of power.  We expect Jesus to seek higher ground, but he just stands there, talking like a crazy man!  Pilate is playing a game of sorts with Jesus, and Jesus is going to lose.  It’s a fight to the death, and Jesus won’t even pick up a sword.  Jesus is swept up in the wave of Rome’s power.

There are some confrontations in life where you could say just surviving is enough.  Maybe you didn’t win the fight, but you’re still alive, right?  The Hunger Games, Presidential Debates, pistols at twenty paces, in these cases, surviving is good enough.  You don’t necessarily have to win to win.  You just need to not be dead, right?  But Jesus cannot be said to have won even on this level. 

Following this exchange with Pontius Pilate, Jesus is overpowered in every sense of the word.  And yet we call him victorious.  We call him king.  Jesus loses the game in the most decisive way possible, and yet today you and I are celebrating Christ the King Sunday.  What makes the difference?

Well, there’s a temptation to say that Jesus loses the battle but wins the war.  We want to say that when you put his death in the context of the larger picture, Jesus wins.  In the broad scope of things, Jesus’ death is just a temporary setback on the way to the larger victory.  Gotta break some eggs to make omelets.  The end justifies the means, as some like to say.

The problem with that approach is that it justifies the smaller battle on the way to winning the overall war.  When you and I take this approach to things it is exceedingly dangerous, because we get caught up in moving the goal posts.  Before long, any act can be justified in service to the greater good.  You can end up approving anything by simply dialing out the lens and putting it in a larger context.  

We can see this in dictatorships all around the world.  The suffering of one person, or one race of people, means nothing if it achieves the overall goal.  Actual people are completely dispensable when we can trade them in for lofty things like world peace, or purity of doctrine, or an achievable political agenda.  And if we claim that we don’t do this ourselves on at least a small scale, then we’re not looking at our lives very carefully.  We do this kind of cost-benefit analysis all day long, when you think about it.  

And sacrificing one person for the overall good of many should sound familiar to us because it is ultimately what gets Jesus killed.  For the survival of Israel, one man must die . . . for today.  If this one man is sacrificed, there can be peace with Rome . . . for today.  All will be right in the world, the thinking goes, if we can just get rid of this one person we don’t like.

And you and I can safely watch this injustice in the assurance of the resurrection, right?  We can fold our arms and say, “You just wait until Sunday buster.”  And when we do that, we’ve walked ourselves right back into thinking it’s okay for Jesus to lose the battle because he wins the war.  But if his death is okay because we know he’s going to rise again, then we’ve missed the point.  Because “the end justifies the means” is exactly the thinking that gets Jesus killed.  Strange as it sounds, Jesus’ death is not made “okay” because of the resurrection.  The death of God’s own son is not just a minor setback on the way to the bigger goal of salvation for humanity.

Let’s return for a moment to where we started, talking about the power of nature.  When a massive wave is rushing toward you, if you do not move out of the way, you will be swept away, no matter what you do.  But what would happen if you could change the nature of the water?  What if you could separate the hydrogen and the oxygen, for example?  Or what if you changed the forces of friction, or gravity, or the nature of mass itself?  The point is, power sweeps us away because we are forced into playing the game on water’s terms.  The reason water can overwhelm us is because we’re stuck in this system with the laws of nature governing what happens.

Now, step back into the interrogation of Jesus before Pilate with all that in mind.  Pilate is fully expecting Jesus to beg for his life, plead for mercy, or at least stand up to him as a king.  What Pilate is not expecting is for Jesus to stand there like he doesn’t understand the game.  Pilate is working from the perspective of the massive wave of Rome’s power, and Jesus isn’t responding appropriately.  

And here’s the important thing: The reason Jesus is not playing the game as Pilate expects is because Jesus has declared the game itself to be over.  Jesus has seen the violations of the rules, the undeclared fouls and penalties, the absolute corruption of the referees and judges, and declared the entire game invalid.  

The resurrection is not just some last-second score that somehow wins the game in overtime, because that would still be playing by the rules of the game, you see?  Jesus does not overpower Pilate with an even bigger dose of power.  Instead, Jesus changes the very nature of power itself.  Changes the laws of nature, if you will, in what it means to wield power.

Because of Jesus, power is no longer shown in putting someone to death, but rather in rising from death.  Power is no longer shown in taking from the hungry, but in feeding them.  Power is no longer shown in conquering my enemies, but in loving them.  This is a hard teaching, because it goes against everything we are taught.  Which is the whole point!

We began this day with a Collect proclaiming that it is God’s will to restore all things in Jesus, asking that God would grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule.  The most gracious rule of Jesus.  Power as Jesus defines power.

In Jesus, God has changed the very meaning of power and strength.  Power and strength come from the hand of God, and they are to be used for very different purposes than what the world has taught us, or would have us believe.  And for those of us who gather at this Altar, true strength comes in holding out our hands as beggars, to receive the most precious body and blood of God’s beloved son, Jesus Christ our Lord, our strength, our redeemer, and our king.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

YEAR B 2021 pentecost 25

Pentecost 25, 2021
Daniel 12:1-3
Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-25
Mark 13:1-8

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite bumper stickers is the one that reads, “Entropy Rules!”  Entropy is the science-y word that means, everything naturally falls apart.  Like, you cut down a tree, come back in 20 years, and it will have slowly decayed into the ground.  Or, to quote from The Breakfast Club: "Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place.”  This is why we have to get our cars serviced, and launch capital campaigns to fix our buildings.  Because the natural order of things is to fall apart.  Entropy Rules!

And that’s kind of how Jesus responds to the disciples as they leave the Temple in this morning’s gospel reading, and it’s kind of depressing.  As we heard, one of the disciples says to Jesus, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” And Jesus asks him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”  What Jesus could have said was, “Yes, it’s all very impressive.  But remember: Entropy Rules.  Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place.”

I have a friend who used to be a pretty hardcore Evangelical, and he was really hooked on the idea that when Jesus returns he’s going to wipe everything out and start over.  When anyone got too attached to something, my friend would say, “It’s all gonna burn.”  Like you’d say to him, “I’m really hoping my wife and I can finally get our upstairs bathroom finished.”  And my friend would say, “Don’t get too excited, because it’s all gonna burn!”  Like when Jesus comes back he’s going to be carrying the Mother of All Flamethrowers.  

Some people take that view, like my friend, because they think that everything is broken and twisted and must be replaced.  Irredeemably flawed.  I personally disagree with that view, because from what I see in the scriptures, it seems more the way of Jesus to perfect things rather than replace them.  When Jesus sees a blind man, he doesn’t replace him with someone who can see; Jesus gives that man his sight.  Jesus restores things, rather than upgrading to a newer version.  At the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus brings him back to life, instead of rolling out Lazarus 2.0.  In Jesus, things become what they were meant to be, rather than what they are, and as opposed to what people say they should be.

But there’s a tricky balance at work here.  If my friend is correct and everything is gonna burn, then why take care of anything?  Why eat my vegetables since I might get hit by a bus tomorrow?  Why start singing a song since I know it’s going to end after the last chorus?  Is there any point in pursuing beauty through preservation and care if it’s all going to be destroyed?  And that’s where there is a difference between entropy and It’s All Gonna Burn.  Entropy makes us engage to make things better; thinking It’s All Gonna Burn makes us give up.  Entropy rules . . . but not if we can help it, right?  There’s a great quote that applies here, sometimes attributed to Martin Luther:  “If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would still plant an apple tree today.”

There’s a running theme in Mark’s gospel that has come up several times in the past few months.  And that is, the disciples’ obsession with greatness.  Remember that time they were arguing about which of them was the greatest?  And Jesus shows the disciples what greatness is by placing a child in the midst of them.  So when they talk about the greatness of this building with large stones, he reminds them that buildings do not last forever.  Because entropy rules.  Things fall apart.

We like to judge the disciples for their obsession with greatness, but that’s only because we don’t recognize it in ourselves.  We are obsessed with growth, and bigness, and strength.  In our country, in our churches, and in ourselves.  We want to be the biggest and the best at . . . well, at everything.  We are not so far off from the disciples in this way.

One of the thrills of being the Rector at St. Timothy’s is that throughout the year I get to bring groups of people into this space and hear them ooh and aww at the beauty that has been handed down to us.  And they say to each other, “Look, what large stones and what fine Tiffany windows!”  And then, naturally, I turn to them and say, “Do you see these great windows in this amazing building? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.  Hope you can join us for worship on Sunday!”

This section of Mark’s gospel is sometimes called The Little Apocalypse, because Jesus says to the disciples: When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.  Scary stuff, right?  Apocalyptic.

But that response from Jesus is an answer to a question from the disciples.  They say to Jesus, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?”  And here we’re really back to entropy.  Because it’s all falling apart, all the time.  We are living in a slow-motion apocalypse from the day we are born.  Just look around.  Have you seen nations rising against nations?  Earthquakes?  Famines?  When will it happen?  It’s happening right now.  You’re soaking in it.

We have no control over these things.  We’re living in a slow-motion apocalypse all our lives, and entropy rules.  And any time we start arguing with one another over who is the greatest, or marvel at seemingly indestructible buildings, we would do well to remember this teaching.  “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

And that’s much different from, It’s All Gonna Burn, right?  It is the natural order of things to be born or built, have their existence, and then pass away.  See that young strapping football quarterback?  Well, not one muscle will be left upon another.  All will be thrown down.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  In the words of the band Kansas, “nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”  It’s just the way things are.  When will things fall apart, Jesus?  Things are falling apart right now, comes the reply.

Hearing that something is going to happen naturally makes us want to know when it’s going to happen.  And when the disciples hear Jesus suggest that all these buildings will be rubble at some point, they want to know when.  Tell us the day, Jesus.  Give us the signs that we are to look for.  Is it today?  Tomorrow?  Next week?  They almost seem to panic, don’t they?  What do you mean St. Timothy’s won’t be here forever?  What will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?  Whatever will we do?

And you know why they panic?  Why we panic?  Because we put our faith in structures, and buildings, and nations.  This democracy we have created will last forever.  This building will always be here to shelter our worship.  And when we start putting our faith in buildings and nations, well, maybe it’s helpful to have someone say to us, remember: Entropy Rules.

Jesus says, “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes; there will be famines.”  103 years ago this month the War to End All Wars came to an end, and simply paved the road to an even more devastating war.  If we put our trust in kingdoms, nations, and buildings, we will be sorely disappointed, because they're not going to be here forever.

But, as we’ve all been starkly reminded these past two years, the Church is not a building; the Church is us.  Sure, we happen to have inherited the most beautiful structure in the state of Ohio, but this building is not the Church.  We are the Church, along with all the others who have ever lived and ever will live.  We don’t put our hope in the current things of this world, where Entropy Rules.  But you know where we do put our hope?  

In the birthpangs, that’s where.  Yes, everything comes to an end.  But for those who put their hope in Jesus, the end is the beginning.  The rebirth is always around the corner.  As we heard in the letter to the Hebrews this morning:  

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.”  We put our hope in the promises of Jesus Christ.  And we can trust that hope, believe that hope, live that hope, because Jesus who has promised is faithful.  And among the promises of Jesus, we know he has promised to be among us.

I still believe the best bumper sticker ever is that one that says, Entropy Rules, though I’m tempted to add, “So Far.”  And that’s because, though things do fall apart, God restores them to fulness.  Remember the birthpangs.  And though we all do go down to the grave, God promises to raise us up to new life.  May God give us the grace to trust in the hope of these promises, and to live together in unity and peace, until the day that Jesus returns, and makes all things new.


Sunday, November 7, 2021

YEAR B 2021 feast of all saints

All Saints, 2021
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the PBS series called “Grantchester.”  I’m really quite fond of it.  Probably because it’s about an Anglican priest.  It’s a really good series, but it definitely suggests that I am way behind in solving murders about town.  Anyway, the most-recent episode ends with the priest going to visit his former curate in prison.  When the two are face to face, the priest asks how he’s doing, and the first words from curate are, “Will you pray with me?”

And it crushed me!  I don’t often cry over television shows, but this really got to me.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was the word “with” that did it.  He doesn’t say, “will you pray for me when you get back home?”  No, he asks him to pray with him.  Right here, in front of the two prison guards.  And this is the Anglican way.  Our prayer is public, corporate, and common.  Our book of prayer is called “common” because we use it in common, together.  We worship together.

And we see this in today’s gospel reading.  After Jesus tells Lazarus to come out, Jesus does not take the cloths off Lazarus.  He doesn’t tell Lazarus to unbind himself.  No, says to the community of friends, “Unbind him and let him go.”  He is raised back to life by Jesus, but he is set free by the community.  You and I follow this same pattern: In Holy Baptism—like when Levi is baptized at our 10 o’clock service today—in Baptism we are brought to new life, and in the community we are set free.  Set free to live out our faith, worshipping together, praying together.  Unbind him, and let him go.  Indeed.

But let’s look at what comes before that dramatic moment.  Jesus comes to be with Mary and Martha because their brother Lazarus has died.  Our reading today begins with Mary kneeling before Jesus and saying, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  Ouch!  That is some serious sass isn’t it?  I mean who talks to Jesus like that?  Well, the truthful answer is, all of us do.  We all have moments when we blame God for things, when we doubt whether God really cares about us.  

But it’s interesting that Mary is not questioning Jesus’ ability to help; she questions his timing.  Which is kind of worse, when you think about it.  She’s saying, Jesus, if you had been more punctual, none of this would have happened.  You could have done something, but you were late.  This feels really awkward and pushy to me.  If I were Jesus, I think this would have put me over the edge.  Fortunately for all of us, I’m not Jesus.

Then Jesus asks, "Where have you laid him?" They say to him, "Lord, come and see.”  Jesus is asking, “Where is your pain?  Where is your shame?  Where is the thing that makes you so hurt and angry with me?”  And they say, “Lord, come and see.”  They invite him into their literal pain and suffering, and Jesus begins to weep.  This moment is crucial to our understanding of how Jesus feels about us and about our suffering.  Jesus knows we are hurting, and when we show him our pain, Jesus weeps with us.  God weeps with us.  Like the curate in Grantchester, pray with me, be with me, weep with me.

But then they get cold feet.  When they get to the tomb where Lazarus has been laid to rest, Martha, his sister says, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.”  They go from inviting Jesus into their pain saying “Come and see,” to now saying, “No Jesus, it’s too smelly for you.”  Like, Jesus can take seeing my pain and weeping with me, but some things are just too stinky.  This would be too much for you Jesus; you’re too holy to withstand the really hard stuff in my life.

It’s a powerful metaphor isn’t it?  Don’t we all do this?  Push down the things and hide the stuff that isn’t holy enough for Jesus to see?  Like Jesus is just too precious for it?  Too perfect to put up with our imperfections and failures?  Too disappointed in us for not living up to the expectations of others?  That part of my life is just too sordid for you to get involved with Jesus.  Let’s go back to the house and turn some water into wine or something.

Then Jesus says, take away the stone.  And they do.  The community takes away the stone.  Together.  Jesus tells Lazarus to come out.  And then Jesus says to the people, "Unbind him, and set him free.”  And the community does, together.  And we see this exact same pattern in our own lives, over and over.

When tragedy strikes, we say to God, “If you had been here, this horrible thing would not have happened to me.”  And Jesus asks, “Where is your suffering, show me.”  And we say, “Come and see.”  And Jesus weeps with us.  He weeps in the community with us.  But then we decide that there are some things that are too big for Jesus to take.  Too painful for him to understand.  Too stinky for his holy nose to handle.

And that’s when Jesus says to the community around us, take away the stone, unbind them and set them free.  God invites us into communities for exactly this reason.  So that we do not have to suffer alone.  We do not have to pray alone.  We do not have to sing or worship or eat alone.  The hands and feet of Jesus are in this room.  We are the body of Christ in this world.  And we can say to one another, pray with me, unbind me, set me free.  And together, we are set free because of Jesus.

 Each one of us is Mary and Martha, with our anger at God for not doing what we expect.  And Jesus weeps with us.  Each one of us is a member of the community, that follows the command of Jesus to unbind one another and set them free.  And each one of us is Lazarus in the tomb, awaiting the voice of Jesus to call us out of death into life.

There is no pain or shame that is too much for God.  There is nothing beyond the reach of Jesus’ voice, calling us to new life.  There is nothing we cannot get through together, because God has given us each other, and has also put us in the midst of the saints of every time and every place, all gathered around the throne of God.  You are not alone, because you are surrounded by all the saints of God.  We pray together, we weep together, and we are set free together.  All the saints of God, set free together.


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

All Souls, All the Faithful Departed

All Souls, 2021
Wisdom 3:1–9
Psalm 130
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
John 5:24-27

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today we are celebrating the feast of All Souls, sometimes called All the Faithful Departed.  Before the Reformation, All Souls was a very big deal.  But then Martin Luther and the others decided it was too wrapped up with indulgences and Masses for the dead, and they stamped it out.  Threw out the baby with the bathwater, as it were.

From then on, the Feast of All Souls got kind of melded into All Saints.  In recent times, All Souls has been making a comeback though, and it is distinct from All Saints, which we will celebrate this coming Sunday.  Here’s perhaps a helpful way to distinguish All Saints from All Souls.

All Saints is about the names we know.  And All Souls is about the people we know.  So for All Saints we think of Peter and Paul, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Francis, Julian, Mary Magdalene, and the gospel writers.  For All Souls we focus on our relatives, our mentors, and our friends.  All Saints is for the rock stars; All Souls is for the people we love.  The Rock Stars of the Church are great and all, but these other souls carry us through our lives.

The Saints inspire us, but the faithful departed have fed us, all along the way.  Usually, quite literally fed us.  I love a big celebration as much as anybody, and that’s why All Saints Day is one of my favorite feast days.  But I also want to live and thrive and grow in my faith and love for others, and that’s why All Souls Day inspires me maybe even more.

All Saints Day is about those archaic people who make us think of heaven.  All Souls Day is about the people here on earth, who help us live, and grow in our faith, and become the people God knows we can be.  So, on this day, we honor those whom we love but see no longer.  May they continue to be a blessing in our lives, and in our memories, until the day we are reunited with them into the glorious company of saints in everlasting light.