Rev. Dr. John Judson
November 22, 2015
Deuteronomy 17:7-11, Matthew 22:34-40
For 895 episodes, over thirty-three years he taught us what it meant to be a compassionate neighbor. Mr. Rogers made children feel loved and safe. Mr. Rogers offered a tranquil oasis of acceptance and compassion. Mr. Rogers taught us about being the kind of people we know we were supposed to be. And if you are wondering what he taught us about being compassionate neighbors, here are a few of them. “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say "It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem." Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” “Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.” “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world." These are the lessons we were taught about being compassionate neighbors in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. But the question is, where did he learn them?
The answer to that question is that he learned them from Jesus. I’m not sure how many of you are aware that Mr. Rogers was not only a Christian but that he was a Presbyterian minister? And as such he understood that Jesus called us to be compassionate neighbors. We see this in our morning’s story. Jesus is under attack by his opponents who want to trip him up so that they can get rid of him. One of the questions is which is the greatest commandment? His response is that we are to love God and love neighbor. When then asked who is my neighbor, he tells the story of the Good Samaritan; a story which says that anyone in need is our neighbor and that in being a compassionate neighbor we are to care for them. And not only does Jesus teach about being a compassionate neighbor he demonstrates it through caring for those for whom no one else will care. He shows that everyone is his neighbor. But they question is, where did Jesus learnt this? I know that many of us think that Jesus just kind of made this stuff up, but he didn’t. He learned it, I would argue, from the rabbinic school of Hillel.
OK, so I know that this is something completely new to most of you here. But in the time of Jesus there were two distinct schools of thought about how Judaism ought to understand the Bible. One was the school of Shamya. This school believed in a very strict, legalistic interpretation of the Law of God that lifted up the ideal of what a follower of God should be, even if no one could attain it. The school of Rabbi Hillel was more compassionate and cared about the welfare of neighbors. Here are two statements from Rabbi Hillel. “Whosoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whosoever that saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: this is the entire Law of God.” This is the kind of compassion that Hillel taught to his followers and even today is basis for much of Judaism across the globe. But the question again, is where did Hillel learn it? The answer is from the Bible.
In our Old Testament lesson we read part of the Torah or the Law of God. In it we read that “If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. 8 You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be….since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.” In other words we are to show compassion and care to those around us who are in need and do not have what we have. And this is not the only time that the Law of God told us this. There are in fact almost one hundred references to caring for and being compassionate to those who are our neighbors. So once again, the question is, where did the writers of the Old Testament get these ideas? The answer is, from God.
In the end, being a compassionate neighbor is defined by God’s love for God’s creation. God desires the best for every human being. God doesn’t see us through the lens of the language we speak. God doesn’t see us through the color of our skin. God doesn’t see us through the lens of our nationality. God doesn’t see us through the lens of our abilities. God sees us through the lens of the love of one neighbor for another. And in so doing God reaches out in love, grace, compassion and tender caring providing us with everything that we need to not only survive but to thrive. God is the Good Samaritan. God is the father waiting for the Prodigal son to return. God is the king who invited everyone to the banquet. God is the one who cares for the orphan, the widow, the alien, the stranger, the poor…and the rich. God is one who is the ultimate compassionate neighbor.
The problem however is that with all of that having been said we are living in a moment when we are told that we are to be compassionate neighbors to everyone except…except to certain people. We are to be compassionate neighbors to everyone except refugees from the Syria, the Middle East and Northern Africa. We are to be compassionate neighbors to everyone except Muslims. We are to be compassionate neighbors to everyone except the more than nine-thousand homeless persons in Oakland County. We are to be compassionate neighbors to everyone except those who don’t look like us, act like us or live where we live. In fact not only do we not have to be compassionate neighbors but we can demonize them all. My question to all of us this morning is this, where do we see Mr. Rogers, Jesus, Hillel, the Torah or God making those kinds of exceptions? For my part I don’t see any. Now, I realize that there is evil in the world, and ISIS is one of its current incarnations. Yet even in the face of such terrorism, I do not see God or Jesus making any exceptions that let us off the hook for being compassionate neighbors.
With that being said I want to offer one more quote from Mr. Rogers. “At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings. That is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.” My challenge to you then is this. To ask ourselves, even in the face of fear, how am I being a compassionate neighbor to all?
Rev. Dr. John Judson
November 15, 2015
Ezekiel 34:1-16, Matthew 18:10-22
Every church has what I have referred to as the fixit guys. These are the men, and some women, who show up and fix things that are broken or simply are in need of updating. At my last congregation the fixit guys were working on some doors for a new closet when one of them said, “Hey John, do you want to go to the Restore with me?” “What’s the Restore?” You don’t know what the Restore is!?” “No,” I replied, “I have no idea what the Restore is?” “Well jump in my truck and I will show you.” We got in his truck and headed across town. Along the way he explained what the Restore was. It was a part of the Habitat for Humanity organization where builders, contractors and home owners, when they had excess new or gently used house items such as doors, windows and cabinets would donate them to Habitat. Habitat would then put them in this immense warehouse and when people purchased them the proceeds would go to help fund the building of homes for those who could not otherwise afford decent housing. On the way back from the Restore, with two doors in the back of the pickup, the thought that came to me over and over was, what a great illustration of stewardship.
I realize that when most people think of the Restore, stewardship would not be the first word that came to mind, especially for those of us in the church. I say that because in the church when we speak of stewardship the first thing that comes to mind is money. Every year we have a stewardship drive where we ask people to carefully consider how they use the money with which God has blessed them. In a sense it is a theological annual fund drive to insure that the church has the resources it needs to fulfill its mission. At the same time we also speak of stewardship of time and talent; believing that God has given us each of those and therefore we need to figure out how God wants us to use those things in order to expand and enhance the Kingdom of God. Stewardship then it figuring out the best uses for our time, talent and treasure. All of which is indeed true, but when that becomes the extent of being faithful stewards, we miss one of the great stewardship truths of scripture and that is that God asks us to steward all of creation, including humanity.
What I mean by this is that the stewardship of our time, talent and treasure is for the express purpose of being stewards, or caretakers over humanity…or to put it another way, it is the stewardship of loving neighbor. After all this is what God has been about throughout history. God has been working to restore all of humanity back to a place where they can love God and love neighbor; where they reach their fullest potential in life; where they live into the hopes and dreams that God has for them. So what God does is take broken human beings and through the love and grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit works to restore them. This is what I meant when I said that the Restore was an amazing image of stewardship. It takes broken and castoff goods and insures that they are used in a way to enhance the lives of others. And so when we speak this morning about being faithful stewards what we need to look at is how do we become co-stewards with God in God’s work to restore humanity? The answer fortunately can be found in all three of our stories.
The first way we can be faithful stewards is to reclaim human beings. One of the commonalities of all human beings is that we have been a species that sees other members of our species as disposable. We see this in the words of Ezekiel who accuses the religious leaders of abandoning the weak and the poor. In the time of Jesus it is the widows, the orphans, the day laborers who are disposable. They are ignored and cast aside. In our own day nothing much has changed. We view foster children when they turn 18 as disposable and we toss them out on the street. We view children in poorer school districts as disposable and so do not offer them adequate resources for their education. Jesus in his story about the one sheep reminds us that no human being is disposable; that when one sheep, or as he puts it, one of these little ones, is lost, our task is to go and find them. We are to leave the other ninety-nine in the hands of the other shepherds and go and find the one that was lost. Our task is to help reclaim these people for God. Being a faithful steward of people is helping restore the potential of all people.
The second way we can be faithful stewards is to reconcile with others. Let me ask, how many of you have sent off a letter or an email that was written in the heat of the moment and which you later wish you could un-send? Any of you? I ask because when we are attacked, or as Jesus puts it, when someone sins against us, one of our first reactions is to attack back. We want to diminish the other person even as they have tried to diminish us. In other words a good defense is a good offense. And in so doing rather than helping to restore a human being we are working to tear them down. Jesus offers us an alternative to this kind of response. He tells us that we are to first go, in private and lay out our case. If that doesn’t work we are to take a couple of friends and once again lay it out. If that doesn’t work we are to take it to the church. The purpose of each of these steps is to try and restore another through reconciliation. It is to help the other see that they are bringing harm to those around them. Being a faithful steward of people is helping to restore relationships.
The final way we can be faithful stewards is to release others. As Jesus is telling these stories about how we are to be stewards of humanity, Peter desires a bit of clarification. If, he appears to be asking, if I am supposed to look for the lost one and work at reconciliation, how far does this extend? How many times must I forgive? Chances are that this is a question that many of us have asked ourselves at one time or another. There is that one person who just keeps tearing us down, or apart. And this is a good question for Peter because Judaism at the time had the three strike rule. You were to forgive a person three times and then no more. Jesus however, refuses to go there and instead speaks from the heart of human stewardship, that we are supposed to forgive seventy-seven times, or basically an unlimited amount. I realize that this appears to go against the previous story, but Jesus understands something central about what happens when one person sins against another; the sin traps and diminishes them both. The one sinned against is as trapped by the sin as the one who commits it. Thus when we forgive we are released to once again live fully and the other is released to become the human being God designed them to be. Being a faithful steward is helping to release ourselves and others to live into the fullness of being one created in the image of God.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to be faithful stewards and as such are to see he world as a giant Restore. We are to see the men and women, the boys and girls in it as those for whom Jesus Christ gave his life in order that they might be restored.
Rev. Cathy Chang
November 8, 2015
Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 50:15-21
If there's one thing about our three-year old daughter Aurélie and how we as parents are raising her, it's perfectly acceptable to be a superhero like Spiderman -- and not just for one day out of the year like Halloween this past weekend. If she likes you, note that I said the opposite: not if you are an enemy, but if she is your friend, she will want to catch you and impress you with her web-slinging skills. As young as she is in life and in her imagination, we try to impress upon her that there are no limits. As parents, even though we glimpse more of what she'll be like at 13 instead of her mere 3 years, we still want her to know and to act as if she can be and do anything "greater than" her ordinary human limits.
In the same way, last weekend in our church calendar, many of us paused to remember the saints who are now in the church triumphant, who shaped us and who through their lives showed us that we can be "greater than" our human limits, because God empowers us to be "greater than" any of what society defines us or the ways that we limit ourselves. Our family also stopped to remember the many people who have gone before us and shown us that their lives were about following, serving, loving God and loving one's neighbors.
In preparing myself for his death and especially in these months after my uncle's death this past January, I often gave thanks to God for his call to ministry and mission service. For many Presbyterians here in the United States and throughout the world, my late uncle was Rev. Dr. Syngman Rhee who served as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCUSA. Uncle Syngman's faithfulness in ministry and mission also paved the way for me to find my way in ministry and mission: Going through confirmation as a high school student in a more conservative church that was affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America, more than a decade later I only learned about the PCUSA when he introduced me to the Young Adult Volunteer program. This introduction came at a time when I was no longer working as a management consultant with Accenture, and instead I sought a career more in line with my international and cross-cultural experiences.
Thinking about that time in my life, as a twenty-something young adult, it was probably the first time that I had the opportunity to reflect on my personal and family history, and how that might intersect with my choice of career. More specifically, I can remember meeting with Young Adult Volunteer site coordinators and finally deciding between serving in Tucson, Arizona and Cairo, Egypt. Both sites provided opportunities to work directly with migrants or refugees.
Around that same time, a particular news story caught my attention and must have helped me to think about the possibilities of working with refugees: several North Korean defectors had crossed over into China and headed to the consulate offices in the hopes of seeking asylum.
It wasn't the first time North Korean defectors made such movements towards better lives, but it was the first time that I connected that story with the story of my mother's side of the family: during the late 1940s, in the years leading up to the Korean War, her family traveled within the Korean peninsula, from North to South Korea in the hopes of arriving at safety and security. In the official language of refugees, her family, like many others, were internally displaced. Too young to walk, too young to remember, my mother rested on the back of her aunt who insisted that she stay with the family. Too noisy because of her crying, my mother almost did not make it through that journey - had it not been for my aunt.
Several years later, I also learned about another family story connected to North Korea: although my Uncle Syngman had married my aunt and into our family, this story has become our family story. During his younger years, Japanese colonial rule defined my Uncle Syngman's Korean heritage and homeland. His mother sent away him and his brother, after they were kicked out of school because their father was a Christian minister. These two brothers left their family to seek safety and security and a better life. Through many twists and turns along the way, Uncle Syngman left Korea and eventually arrived in the United States, and many years returned to the remaining family members in North Korea.
As I read the story of Abram leaving his family and his homeland against the backdrop of our family stories, I often wonder about what has become of God's promise of blessings and curses and how that has played out in my life today. One of my consistent prayers is that God's blessings might enable me to serve a blessing to many people. I have also come to believe that such blessings can bring about greater transformation through reconciliation, about the God alone who can heal and redeem broken bodies, broken lives, broken relationships, broken families, even broken peace accords. Through these blessings, it is how I opened up my mind and my heart to the many refugees from the Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, many fleeing civil war, religious persecution and famine, while I was living and serving in Cairo, Egypt, as a Young Adult Volunteer.
It's also how I opened my mind and heart up to the son of a political refugee who happened to be serving as a mission volunteer and living in the same house as us Young Adult Volunteers in Cairo, Egypt: During the early 1970s in the South American country of Chile, Juan's father went from serving in the military to serving a life sentence in a matter of months due to the changing political tide. Brought to France without his family by the United Nations, Juan's father began a new life in exile. Returning to Chile again but this time traveling with his family and resettling together in France, Juan's family would begin their lives again. In his younger years, Juan will tell you that his home served as a way station for many of the Chilean families in the process of resettling into a new life in France. In his older years, armed with his guitar Juan traveled throughout Europe and North Africa. In more recent years, Juan moved from France to marry me, this Korean-American woman whom he had met while he was serving as a mission volunteer in Egypt.
After hearing family stories like ours, it is a wonder how God has brought us together to respond to God's calling to serve in mission together. This time, we're moving again, but this time with our daughter, this time in a country in which neither of us has traveled, this time working with individuals and families who are seeking a better life for themselves only to have human traffickers dash their hopes and dreams.
Those of you looking for a definition of human trafficking, here it is: Due to the poverty of their circumstances, many children and adults are working in cities, in countries, under fear, force and coercion, submitting to employers and employment conditions that treat them more like property than the people that they are. Abolished many centuries ago, the Atlantic slave trade no longer exists, but modern slavery still persists in Asia and throughout the world.
With all this talk about Abram, it might sound like that we are overlooking the real-life challenges of social and economic and political systems, not to mention the attitudes of people. Turn on the radio, flip through a newspaper, scroll through your phone or e-reader, and someone - politicians, or would-be politicians- has something to say about crossing borders or closing up borders, something to say about people who are making way across water and land to find safety and security for themselves and their loved ones.
Still I am curious if this morning's conversation about God and the movement of people, migrants and refugees, might sound differently because of our faithful heritage, because of another forefather in the faith: Let's go back to Joseph, not the father of Jesus, but the favored son of Jacob who sported a multi-colored coat --- this is the same Joseph whose brothers hated him and threatened to kill him, but instead they resorted to selling him as a slave to some traders on their way to Egypt. This is a life story of sibling rivalry and slavery, but more importantly, about God's intentions for good that are "greater than" any brother's plans for evil.
Through the life of Joseph, my hope in God is firm in the face of life-threatening and life-transforming circumstances. Friends in faith, what it might look like for us to believe again that the God who was at work in Joseph's life, is still at work in the world? Can you believe with me that God is still at work, in peoples’ homes, in their places of employment, in their prisons, in their desires to be free and reunited with families? I invite you to believe with us, pray with us, cry and have your heart break with us, work with us, that God might bring about healing and redemption "greater than" just one person, but for many Filipinos and Filipinas, for the many Asians who are impacted by migration and human trafficking. This morning, I'm asking you to believe with me again in this God saves and redeems not just one life, but for something that is always "greater than" one person who can serve the "greater good."
In the same spirit of Joseph who proclaims God's intentions for good which are "greater than" any of his brothers' plans for evil, it is the aim of Presbyterian World Mission, to come alongside the work of churches and organizations in the Philippines and throughout Asia, to support and to strengthen their programs for the victims who are impacted by migration and human trafficking. This work goes deeper and further than “rescue efforts” or “decrying the evils of prostitution or child pornography,” because it is about human rights: we also seek to address the root causes of poverty and confront cultures of sexual violence against children and women.
Bringing together both Joseph's statement of faith and God's promise to Abram, I invite us towards a common vision of what it means to serve as mission co-workers with us: Let’s believe and work towards God's healing and redemption, all of which can begin with our families of origin but also encompasses God's desire to bless many families of the earth.
People of God, let us praise God because who Abram was and how he lived was and still is a testimony to the God who blesses all families of the earth. Let us praise God for who Joseph was and how he lived was and still is a testimony to this very God of his father and his brothers. Who we are as the Chang Lopez family and how we live is a testimony to this very God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as members and friends of the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, I pray that who you are and how you live is a testimony to this very God who is "greater than" any single one of us and unto the God who is always seeking the "greater good" of all families of the earth. To the glory of God, Amen.
Rev Amy Morgan
November 1, 2015
Listen (Amy had Laryngitis - John gave her sermon)
Zechariah 8:9-17, Luke 10:1-11
He was mid-sentence in the middle of our meeting when the alarm sounded. It was one of those embarrassing noises your phone makes - a rock song that completely tells everyone your age. He jumped up and fumbled around in his pockets until he found his phone and silenced his alarm.
“10:02,” he said, as though we should all know what he was talking about.
Getting our quizzical looks in response, the chairperson of this Presbytery committee went on to explain that at the last General Assembly, commissioners had been encouraged to set their alarms for 10:02 every day. When the alarm sounded, they were to pray about Jesus’ words in the gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verse two, which says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Lots of prayers are needed to find willing laborers in this field. You might be tempted to think that this prayer is asking for more people to go to seminary and train for ordained ministry in the church. But it’s not. At the time Jesus spoke these words, there were no ministers, and there was no church. There was just a group of 70 ordinary folks willing to follow Jesus, to be his disciples, and to spread the good news of the kingdom of God.
The fact that Jesus could summon up 70 people willing to be sent out as laborers in the work of God is pretty miraculous considering the job description.
It might read something like this:
Seeking: Persons willing to get devoured by the world around them in order to help people see Jesus.
Job Requirements: Depend on the hospitality of strangers. Eat whatever you are served, even if it’s weird or offensive. If you experience rejection, just walk away.
Qualifications: no money, no stuff, no shoes.
Who’s ready to sign up for that? It’s no accident that this passage falls on the heels of a series of conversations Jesus has with people who would like to follow him, but they need to take care of such trivial matters as burying a father or letting their family know that they are leaving and might not be coming back.
The fact that anyone at all is willing to fulfill this job description is miraculous, and you would think Jesus would be pretty happy with 70 willing applicants. But no. He calls for more.
And so our meetings get interrupted at 10:02.
Because 70 disciples isn’t enough.
The gospel of Luke begins with a spotlight on Jesus which then expands to cover the first 12 disciples. Here in chapter 10, the flood lights come on to reveal 70 followers being sent out to spread the gospel. And if we follow Luke’s narrative into the book of Acts, the lights come up in the auditorium and in the hallways and out in the parking lot to illuminate how the gospel message spreads to the ends of the earth.
Until Jesus returns and God’s redeeming work is complete in the world, there will never be enough disciples.
Disciples are not just pastors and church staff. They are not just missionaries and people who run faith-based non-profits.
Like most numbers in the bible, Seventy is not a random figure. The tenth chapter of the book of Genesis lists all the nations of the earth, totaling seventy. From there on, Seventy becomes a biblical code word for EVERYBODY.
So this episode in Luke’s gospel is telling us that everybody is called to be a disciple. Every one of us with the courage to submit to intentional poverty, to travel lightly, to depend upon the hospitality of strangers, and endure rejection peaceably. Every one of us with the power to heal, to bless, and to announce the kingdom of God.
Sound like a tall order? You betcha. Feeling underqualified? You wish.
We are qualified for discipleship in our baptism. For those of us who were baptized as infants, we never even got a say in the matter. Those who were baptized as adults are thinking, “I should have paid more attention to the fine print.”
But before you start sneaking out under the pews, let’s look at what discipleship really means.
A disciple is literally a learner, someone who chooses to follow a particular teacher. Here at Everybody’s Church, the Session has worked over the last year or so to develop a definition of discipleship that is a little more descriptive. During the Session retreat last year and in the months following, they discerned the specific qualities they thought would define disciples of Jesus Christ in this time and place.
And here is the definition that emerged from that process: “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we live and grow in God’s Word as peacemakers, faithful stewards, and compassionate neighbors.” You can review this definition in First Things each week, and it’s on our church website as well. And it is the focus of our sermon series for the rest of this month.
Today we are focusing on the first of those three qualities – disciples as peacemakers. Now, Christianity certainly has a checkered past when it comes to making peace, but Jesus’ teachings are pretty clear on the matter. He tells us to turn the other cheek and declares that peacemakers are blessed and will be called children of God.
But scripture is also very clear that peacemaking is much more than beating swords into plowshares and favoring diplomacy over the nuclear option.
In our passage today, the FIRST thing the disciples are told to do when they reach their destination is to pick a house, seemingly at random and say “Peace to this house!”
Now, that might seem like a strange thing to say, or at the very least a fairly innocuous greeting.
But these are not idle words. Jesus says that the peace the disciples speak can come to rest upon the house and those in it if they share in the peace, or it will return to the speaker if they do not. This peace is a tangible force that can come and go, that can be shared or rejected. It is a gift, a blessing, that the disciples bring to those who will accept them.
What is truly radical about this peace that we as 21st century Americans do not hear right away, is that this peace is fundamentally different from the prevailing “peace” of first century Judea. The peace that reigned in that time and place was the Pax Romana, a peace enforced by the Roman Empire to suppress opposition and quell uprisings of conquered peoples. It was a peace that came with a sword or a prison cell or a cross. This was a peace that was being actively resisted by some and actively enforced by others in the towns to which Jesus sent out his disciples.
But the peace brought by Jesus’ disciples is different. It is a peace that engenders hospitality rather than suspicion. It is a peace that leads to healing rather than injury. It is a peace that pronounces the reign of God, not the power of Rome. It is a peace that, as author Barbara Brown Taylor says, “puts you as close to God as you can get. To learn to look with compassion on everything that is…to open your arms to what is instead of waiting until it is what it should be; to surrender the justice of your own cause for mercy; to surrender the priority of your own safety for love – this is to land at God’s breast.”
The peace of Christ, the powerful force of connection and wholeness and humility, is not easy to develop. I should tell you up front that discipleship is hard. That is why it was important to the group who wrote our definition to acknowledge that we live and grow in God’s Word as we develop these qualities. This is an ongoing endeavor, not a one and done activity.
This peace is a force that outlasts even our mortal lifetimes.
On this day, this All Saints’ Day, we experience the peace that has been left behind by those faithful disciples who have died, those who now share in the eternal peace promised in Jesus Christ. We share in the peace of compassionate nurses like Marion Cox and Helen Williamson. We share in the peace of Marjorie DeLong and Marilyn Achterlonie, who were wise teachers and advisors and caring friends. We share in the peace of Hudson and Marilyn Scheifele and Jeryl Marlatt, who served in our country’s armed forces to bring peace in a violent world. All those who have died in the faith, all those saints we will celebrate today, have shared their peace with us through many years of shared meals, volunteer service, caring words and actions, prayers and participation in the life and ministry of this body of Christ.
So as we remember them, let us remember also that we are all called to be disciples, living and growing in God’s Word, as peacemakers, as those who bless and heal and announce the kingdom of God. Because you are the workers we have been praying for, at 10:02 and many other times. You are the saints whose peace will sustain generations to come. You are disciples of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.