Good morning all! Today is a most special and holy day in the church as we celebrate (although that word does not feel right) all saints day. All saints is a time of remembering and giving thanks for those that have passed on to be with Jesus, but it's also a time to celebrate those 50 year members of our church whose sacrifice and modeling of good faith makes our witness to Chagrin Falls as effective as it is. It's a wonderful day and I hope you all will join in.
But I think it's also safe to say that All Saints Day rings a little different this year than others as we face a global pandemic that has changed everything globally. In just the US the death toll is a little over 200k. To put that in perspective, if you were to empty out a 20 pound bag of white rice there would be around 200k grains of rice. Each tiny little grain of rice a life lost to COVID-19. Each tiny little grain of rice had family, some had children, all of them had hopes, dreams, fears, and questions still left to ask. So, whether or not you feel COVID-19 is overblown, or whether or not you think masks are dumb, just think about the little grain of rice no longer with us and give the debate a rest for a day, mask up for a day, and give a silent prayer for your own health, your families health, our countries health, and for those who grieve this All Saints Day.
But first some scripture to keep us going. We're nearly at 50 days! You're doing amazing - keep it up!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about humanity?
How does the psalm make me feel?
What do I believe God is calling me to after reading this?
- My Thoughts -
This isn't really my thoughts as it's more a statement from me. I've always used this space as a journal. I write my raw thoughts on the scripture and how I'm processing that scripture based on the things that I've been thinking about either in that particular moment, day, or week. As we get closer to election day I've been thinking more and more about the election and being exposed to more and more ad campaigns. As a result, this space of journaling has become a bit more partisan than I would hope. Please note my intention on choice of word. We will get political as we read the Bible. Why? The Bible is a deeply political book, and the Bible is frequently used as a weapon (and shield) by both parties to justify some law. If our lawmakers will use the scripture in their politics than I'll be damned sure our congregations understand the difficulty of scripture and be able to wrestle with it as well for how it should inform your daily living, your voting, your ideology, your theology, etc. We cannot do that if we do not engage scripture in a practical way (ie - Western Politics) However, I do not want to be partisan, and I think I've toed that line. For this, I apologize.
Further on this topic I like to tell myself that I am not "pastor" Nick when reading the bible with you and all and just another participant. I don't write these "thoughts" as a sermon, I write them as a journal/blog, therefore I'm just Nick, right? Well, it's never that easy to separate the man from the profession. So, although I do hope that my messages and thoughts will influence how you live out your faith and how you view God's beloved children around the world as we build His kin-dom together, I do not want to come across that I have endorsed a candidate or abused my position as pastor.
THEREFORE, until after the election (and likely some time after it while I process the results and give myself the needed anger I might find myself with - who knows maybe indefinitely) I am going to suspend the "my thoughts" section and simply leave this as structure for us to engage with God's word and let God speak to you (without my influence) through the text.
That's all I ever wanted when I started this journey with you and I hope it can continue.
Please note that I am still eager to hear your thoughts and comments. I'm still here as a resource if you have questions, or to provide prayer during times when the scripture just straight up sucks. I'm thankful for your anticipated grace and mercy, and I'm grateful to take this journey with you each day. Now, let us go and celebrate our saints and give God glory!
(A prayer for all Saints Day from the UMC Book of Worship)
We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you Whether in brush arbors or cathedrals, Weathered wooden churches or crumbling cement meeting houses Where your name was lifted and adored.
We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise: Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil, Strong hands and those gnarled with age Holy hands Used as wave offerings across the land.
We thank you, God, for hardworking saints; Whether hard-hatted or steel-booted, Head ragged or aproned, Blue-collared or three-piece-suited They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come.
Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. Bless the memories of your saints, God. May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.