Connecting the Dots, October 30, 2018
"Connecting the Dots" is a series of articles, reflections, and teachings to help us follow the themes and threads between the sermons and scriptures. I pray that this series is useful to the Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, as he speaks his word to us and connects our hearts to himself and his Father in the life and love of the Holy Spirit.
Blessings, Fr. Greg+
Sunday, November 4, is All Saints' Sunday. This is an annual celebration which means it can fall into the lamentable trap of rote repetition, stale commemoration, and perfunctory observation.
However, both Christmas and Easter (and our own birthdays!) are also annual celebrations open to the same mistake. So the goal is simple: don't make that mistake.
How do we avoid that mistake? The solution is also simple: we ask God for help.
We can't save ourselves from death and we can't save ourselves from anything else. Our help is in the name of the Lord. And we must ask for his help all the time. That's one of the reasons why we're instructed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
As we pray without ceasing, we ask for for things like deliverance (i.e. salvation) from meaningless repetition while we are engaged in the life-giving spiritual practices of our prayer book tradition.
If we're rooted in and praying from that tradition, then we have just prayed through last week with this collect.
Set us free, loving Father, from the bondage of our sins, and in your goodness and mercy give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
One of the freedoms into which we are being saved is the freedom from absentminded engagement with holy and deeply meaningful realities like the Communion of Saints, the Holy Nativity (Christmas), and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus (which we celebrate on Easter Sunday and every Sunday of the year).
And this week we are praying: Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In this process of praying in the tradition of common prayer, we are asking—repeatedly and purposefully—for abundant life and God's peace. These are things that the saints enjoy perfectly and eternally. These are realities into which disciples of Jesus are growing. As we train in the way of Jesus, we find "our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him" (2 Corinthians 3:18, MSG).
This brightness and beauty are illuminated by the life, peace, and joy which are among the spiritual realities shared freely in the fellowship of the Spirit which is the Communion of Saints. As we will pray on Thursday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 4:
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical Body of your Son: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
St. Paul's words provide a fitting declaration, celebration, and concluding invitation.
"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
See you Sunday and may grace and peace be multiplied to you!