All Saints Day is a liturgical moment when the church pauses to honor the lives and legacies of all those who have passed away. This occasion is not just about the icons of faith or about those individuals whom history has widely regarded; this is a day to celebrate memories of those known by many and those known by only a few.
In the Gospel of Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, Jesus lays before the disciples an imperative for life in the Beatitudes. This series of blessings and woes gives insight into the legacy that God desires for all who follow after God. We often use this text as an excuse to absolve ourselves from the responsibility to care for those who are poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised. We use the scripture as a tool to suggest that because suffering on earth is redeemed in heaven, we are not responsible for alleviating miseries of our brothers and sisters.
Yet, on the contrary, Jesus’ message is first to a group of his disciples who have left behind their material goods for the sake of his mission. Jesus’ sermon calls all of us who are committed to him to prioritize his mission to serve others and be present with all people. God is not opposed to our joy; God is not against our fulfillment. However, God desires that we not become so consumed with our own needs and desires that we are incapable of meeting the needs of others.
This legacy is not reserved for the icons of our faith like Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Day, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We are all called to live out their legacy of deep care for the kingdom of God with a willingness to be bold in our pursuit of equality and justice.
God, give me the wisdom to honor all who have lived to honor you with love, grace, and compassion. Give me the courage to go with boldness to care for your people and your world. Amen.
This week includes All Saints Day, when we remember those who have come before and handed down the faith to us, especially through trials. Habakkuk reminds us that our predecessors sometimes suffered discouragement, but the righteous have always lived by faith. The psalmist also has experienced hard times, but he knows that God’s commandments are true and lead to life. The Thessalonians have experienced persecution as well; yet through their strength their faith and love continue to grow to the glory of Christ. May the same be said of us and our church communities! The famous story of Zacchaeus illustrates that the crowd of faithful witnesses that we celebrate on All Saints Day includes those who have been lost—outsiders—for Jesus comes to seek and save the lost.
Read Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4. How can you wait actively for God’s response to your prayers and complaints? How will you enact God’s response when it comes?
Read Psalm 119:137-144. How do you persist in following God’s commandments in the face of injustice and corruption?
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12. The work of the church has never been easy. How does your faith community work to exude God’s love in a time when many reject or feel rejected by church institutions?
Read Luke 19:1-10. When have you run to Jesus? How can you share your experience so others pursue Jesus as well?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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