Sunday, 5 November 2017

For all the Saints

The many glorious saints of yore are celebrated each year at this time.  The many who we know of and celebrate throughout the year and the many who just are even if we have not heard of their deeds.  What precisely are we celebrating here and what is it that we are yearning for within ourselves as a result of this celebration?  We can point to a number of readings from scripture that highlight what we would expect of a saint and say that this is what we strive for.  Yet, each reading we point to can have an alternative view that destroys our thinking.  Take the reading from Matthew's gospel 5. 1-12 that is in the lectionary today.  This is the classic beatitudes passage.

I am sure that we can see these as a basis of what to strive for as we reach out and embrace the concept of sainthood.  The symbolism captured by Christ's opening to the sermon on the mount is perhaps something that is beyond the ability of mere mortals.  For some, especially when reading Luke's  version (6.20-26), it seems a cruel and biased charge that castigates the rich and happy whilst elevating lives that are spent in poverty and weeping.  Do we some how see a reversal of what we consider to be of value by placing the hell holes of poverty and misery as must see / live places in the world as opposed to the Beverley Hills and posh waterfront areas?  An individual recently asked, after hearing an exposition of Luke's version, does this mean that I cannot be a Christian if I am rich and happy?  The dissonances in such a reading of Christ's propositions and our celebration of the Saints should be obvious, yet, how many actually believe these interpretations thus negating any increase in faith or movement towards saintliness?

The walls we create to divide rich from poor, hungry from full....

Perhaps we need to approach these readings from a different perspective and see for ourselves a window of opportunity that takes us beyond the walls that are erected around the dichotomies of wealth vs poverty, happiness vs sadness, emptiness vs fullness, etc.  Instead of seeing the dichotomous nature of these things let's rather view them as a spectrum and suggest that all of God's people are somewhere on this spectrum.  It is not that the rich are more or less important or that those who are hungry are better than those who are full but a recognition that living in the world produces a spectrum as a result of circumstance and the individual's outlook on life.  The second thing, which I believe is as important or more so in light of a Gospel of love, is that we are relational in everything.  Our whole society as a collective humanity is based on relationships.  Relationships, however, are influenced by perceived and actual power, which is often based on the dichotomies that are the focus of this reading.

In bringing these two together we have the path and the circumstance that we celebrate today.  In recognising our relatedness we understand our responsibilities in how we use our situation in life to the improvement of those who are not as fortunate.It is not for us to preference either the poor or the rich it is for us to utilise our wealth (finance, happiness, food, etc) to bring about a change in tthe circumstances of those who are less fortunate then ourselves.  In doing so we bring forward the gospel of love into the hearts of those who are in need. We become saints when we entertain the idea of hospitality to those who are at the opposite end of the spectrum.  We bring our laughter, our love, our food, our financial wealth into the need of the world rather than concentrating on the dichotomy between rich and poor.  We tear down the walls of division and open everything up to the presence of God's Spirit.

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