Living Between Reformation Day and All Saints Day

     As I write this month’s article, I find myself stretched between these two poles: on the one side, Reformation Day, with its rediscovery of the Grace of God and the power and importance of Scripture as it reveals God's will for us in Christ; and at the same time on the other side, All Saints Day, with its emphasis on remembering and celebrating the lives of those saints in Christ who have gone on before us and who serve as inspirational examples for Christian life.  In other words, I'm caught between the theory of Christianity and the reality of it.

     Theory is fun - not just because we can argue all day long about who's right, but because in and of itself, it really much matter.  At least it doesn't until you get to the realm of reality where it may actually cost us something to put our Reformation Theology into actual practice in our lives.  And that's where Reformation and All Saints meet: in the lives of people we care for who brought us inspiration and joy and challenged us to live lives of faith, that is, in the Saints that God sent into our lives to show us his presence.

     But it's that living in-between time, where we all are now, that the problem. How do we do it?  I find the text for All Saints Sunday really helpful: it's the Sermon on the Mount from Luke's Gospel (Luke 6:20-31).  Here we read Jesus' simple, basic, impossible guide to saintly living.  Summarizing Luke's writing,

Blessed are:
     * the poor (for yours is the Kingdom of God)
     * the hungry (for you will be filled)
     * those who weep (for you will laugh)
     * people who are hated, excluded, reviled and defamed on Jesus' account
       (for your reward is great). 

But WOE to:
     * the rich (because you got yours)
     * the full (because, again, you got yours)
     * the laughing (yes, again, you got yours and it won't last)
     * those who are well-spoken of by all (because people tell you what you
        want to hear).

And as if that weren't difficult enough to hear, Jesus goes on to make it even harder:
     * Love your enemies
     * Do good to those who hate you
     * Bless those who curse you
     * Pray for your abusers
     * Turn the other cheek to those who strike you (give them another chance?)
     * Give to those who beg from you (how great we are at excuses for
        not doing this)           
     * and finally, the hardest... Do to others as you would have them do to you

Jesus' outline of the simple, love- and faith-based life is such a worthy challenge. Live in the reality of the in-between moments!

Pastor Larry