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Sunday, November 1, 2015
All Saint’s Day superseding the Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity
Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.
Before we discuss the propers, I would like to talk a bit about today, All Saints’ Day. First notice the word is plural, a great number of saints, all in fact, are remembered today.
In other traditions, All Saints' Day is known as All Hallows, Day of All the Saints, Solemnity of All Saints, or Feast of All Saints. It is a fixed day, celebrated on 1 November every year, except not surprisingly by our Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brethren who celebrate the even on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
Roman Catholics and our Eastern Orthodox friends are talking about people who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In the Reformed Church and Anglican Orthodox Church in particular, we regard all true Christian believers as saints and observe All Saints Day to remember all Christians both past and present.
So let us consider these words from the Collect:
… knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee…
We acknowledge God has brought us together as one in Him through His Son Jesus Christ, who if we are together is indeed our Lord. We ask God to give us His Help to follow those who have gone before us in following His Will in the manner in which we live our lives, that we might in the end benefit from His Grace and come to heavenly happiness in eternity with them in His Love.
This seem like a tall order that we might follow a very hard steep and winding trail for a reward we don’t get until we die. But, that is really the whole point of gaining eternal life; it starts as soon as you accept it. You don’t wait until you die, you get it now. So, if you are going to be eternal, you need to start living eternally. That does not mean you are bullet proof, it means you are evil proof and, equally important – you are accountable for your actions for all eternity. Like Christ in the Wilderness, if you understand what the Devil is offering, you find it far easier to reject his temptations. Why? Because you realize what he offers is of no real value.
Then, we think about real meaning of coming together in one fellowship and communion. This is a point often misunderstood by those whose Scriptural knowledge is a bit short and whose priorities are out of sync with Scripture and the Word of God. God calls us to rally around His Colors, His Standard, not ours. We are not to join others, but to join Him. Thus, if we join Him, we will be with others who have also joined Him. We cannot be in fellowship and communion with those who are not following His Colors.
Again, the Collect calls for us to live (that is an action) in a virtuous and godly manner, not to talk about living thusly, but to actually do so, to act in the manner which God wants.
This brings us right into the reading serving as today’s Epistle, the Seventh Chapter of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine. When all have passed through this veil of tears that need come, the world will be rolled up and discarded. Precisely how is not our concern, precisely when is not for us to know. For 285,000 people today is the end of their earth. But, the earth will stay until all have passed through. Of the tribe of Israel, 144,000. Is this a real number or a figure? It really matters not. It is a big number, who will be in it? Then, it may be a small number; still, who will be amongst them? Yet there are more, enough that no man could number, before God of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues standing before the Lamb of God, our Lord and Savior. Each of these is clothed in white robes having been made white in the blood of the Lamb. These shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; … the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Heaven is a pretty nice place!
While this may or may not be a literal picture of heaven, the only guarantee is you won’t be disappointed.
More than that, our sadness will be gone, our memory of the pain from this veil of tears will be gone. Our bodies will be perfected. All will be well with our souls.
That brings us to Matthew’s description of Jesus’ words to his disciples. Put the important things first. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world and if we are truly of Him, then neither is ours. Truly nothing here matters except doing your duty, do what you are supposed to do and all will be well with your soul. If all is well with your soul, all is truly well.
Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.
The time is now, not tomorrow. The time has come, indeed. How will you ACT?
The time to act is NOW. Will you act? For whom will you act? Will you count the cost before you act?
Action, not diction, is what counts. It is by your actions you are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
 In Roman and Orthodox theology, the beatific vision (Latin: visio beatifica) is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person. A person possessing the beatific vision reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven. The notion of vision stresses the intellectual component of salvation, though it encompasses the whole of human experience of joy, happiness coming from seeing God finally face to face and not imperfectly through faith. (1 Cor 13:11–12) – This last little part in italics is the only portion of the concept that is actually in Scripture.
It is related to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief in theosis, and is seen as the reward for Christians in the afterlife. All concepts not found in Scripture.
 This is the Scriptural meaning of saints.
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