Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

11/6/11 Sermon

Ephesians 2:11-22

 May the words of my mouth……

Today we celebrate All Saints Day in the life of the church. All over the world today congregations of all different denominations are remembering those saints, those Christians who died in the past year.  In worship services everywhere, churches will be lifting up the names of congregation members as well as family members who have entered into the communion saints.  In a way today is a day of grief for many. For me I remember the loss of my dad this past year.  In fact, my mom and siblings are together today in Arkansas where they will be remembering his life as his name will be lifted up.  Im sure there will be tears shed along with many others who will grieve the loss of their loved ones.

And yet even though All Saints Day can bring on feelings of grief, this day is also a day of hope.  Its a day of hope, because as we read, in Christ our loved ones are a part of the household of heaven; they are fellow citizens with the saints who have gone before them.  So while we grieve, at the same time we also know that one day, in Christ, we will see them again. And that gives us hope……

In the Readers Digest magazine a few years ago, Walter Lowen wrote an article about the very first moments that he experienced when his wife of 37 years died in the hospital.  Walter was beside her bed when she took her last breath. And in those moments when she slipped away, Lowen describes his feelings of desperation. He wondered how he would be able to go on.  He said he was overwhelmed with horror and an unbearable sense of loneliness and emptiness came over him.  But then Walter writes what happens next: He said, "Let me tell you what the doctor who attended my wife did for me as I stood dazed and lost at the foot of her bed; knowing not only that the 37 years we had together were over, but feeling also that all meaning had gone from life forever.  He said the doctor took my arm and held it for a moment. And then he said in a matter-of-fact voice, "You'll see her again.'  Lowen writes, That was all he said…… and then he added-----that was all I needed to hear." (5)

While we do have feelings of loss and grief for our saints, we also celebrate the hope in knowing that one day we will see them again. Thats the great hope and assurance we have on All Saints Day.  But thats not the only reason we celebrate and commemorate this day. For today we also take this moment to remember those Christians; those saints who came before us, who paved the way for us to be here at this time and this place.

On All Saints Day, we give thanks for our ancestors in the faith who stood up to persecution, who spoke out against injustices, who fought for religious freedom, who lived the ways of the kingdom despite the dark forces of this world that worked against them……………Its because of them that we are here.

We also give thanks for the saints who began and sustained this church that has been here in Damariscotta for nearly 200 years.

Its because of their faith and their good stewardship of what God entrusted to them in the giving of their time, talents and treasures that we are here worshipping today. They laid the foundation of this church in more ways that one.

We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, building on the foundation that they laid. Its so important for us to remember that..

Sir Isaac Newton who is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived once wrote: If I have seen further than other men, it is from standing on the shoulders of giants who came before me

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop speaks to the same point in an experience he had as a young man just out of college when he stood before the admissions board at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Koop writes…”the interview with the admissions panel seemed to go well until one of them asked me, 'Do you ever expect to make any major discoveries in medicine?'  Koop writes: "It was a stupid question then; it is a stupid question now,"  Koop answered the question like this, "Well sir, from what little experience I have in reading about discoveries in the field of medicine, I rather think that those who make them are building upon the efforts of many who preceded them, but did not do that final thing that achieved success and fame. I would like to be the one who makes a major discovery, but I will be content to contribute to the process."

Christians are all about contributing to the process. We are building upon the foundation that was laid by Christ, the cornerstone and built on from there by faithful saints who came before us.  Their faithfulness, commitment, sacrifice and love of Christ have contributed to our own sainthood and put us in the place we are here today.  Sunday school teachers, and pastors and family members laid our foundation.  And now we are the present saints called to contribute to the process, to lay our own bricks of faith on the foundation built before us.

Of course we do have a choice in the matter. We dont have to do a thing to continue building on to the foundation.

Our sainthood after all, isnt based on what we do; its simply about whose we are. We are made saints by our response in faith to follow Christ.

Still in order to continue this faith and pass it on to generations it is up to us (Jesus uses us) to continue to build upon the foundation.

It has been said that Christianity is only one generation away from extinction.

Therefore it is up to us, thru Gods grace to continue to carry on the faith as those faithful saints did before us.

One of these days, your name and my name is going to be read, a bell will be rung and a candle will be lit.

One day others will be remembering you and me.

The question is how will they remember us?

Will others remember you as one who made an impact on future generations, who contributed to the building of the kingdom of God?

Will they remember you as a building block on the foundation who gave of their time to the church and to others?

Will they remember you as a saint who used their talents to make a difference in peoples lives?

Will they remember you as one who used their treasures to lay another brick on the foundation of this church to continue the spread the gospel?

As saints, we are called to build on the foundation of the saints who have come before us; to add a brick of hope and love to those who are in despair and lost.

To lay a block of forgiveness and blessing to those who feel unforgivable and inadequate.

We have an opportunity to give of our time and talents and treasure to build up this church and its witness to future generations.  Its up to us; we present saints who are here now, to be thankful for the grace that has been given to us and pass it on to those who we will leave behind.

The good news as we remember and celebrate today is that we are not alone on this construction project..For those who have come before us are cheering us on. We are connected to them, sharing the same cornerstone known as Jesus Christ who unites us together with the mortar of his blood.

We have the assurance and the freedom to give all of ourselves in the here and now and build on that foundation because of the defeat of our biggest enemy: the fear of death. 

So today, on this day we remember and give thanks for the saints who have gone before us, let us honor them by honoring our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by continuing to build on the kingdom that he began.

Let us claim our sainthood, that he paid for with his blood, with a gratitude of love to serve others.

Let us remember that death has been overcome; we will indeed see our loved ones again.

May that assurance and hope from the Holy Spirit, inspire us and empower us in such a way that one day when our name is lifted up, people will remember us and give thanks.

For because of our faith in Christ, they were lifted up a little higher on the foundation of all of the saints.

You and I are saints in the making, building for a generation who hasnt yet been born. We have an awesome opportunity; an awesome calling---let us rise up today in commitment, all saints of God!

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen