This week we observe All Saints Sunday, when we realize we are not alone as people of faith.
At the Lord’s Table (remember to bring your Food First!), we will celebrate all of the saints, both known and unknown to us. It’s an act of honor, solidarity and humility before the example of their lives, the difference they’ve made while upon this earth. We don’t say they are perfect. We do say they let God to work through their words and deeds, despite their flaws and frailties.
It makes me proud to be part of the church, pausing in ways like this, in glad appreciation. This doesn’t happen everywhere. Maybe in the military, yes, where they do not forget their own. My friend, Kirk Smith, the recently retired Episcopal Bishop of Arizona, found the following in a New York City church he visited last weekend. If you’re shy about letting others know that you’re part of a church, because others might chide or ridicule you for it, then have a look. What modern body does better than this? I want to hear about it. It is worth reading or sharing!
You can find yours here.
Here is a place that is ancient and new, a faith that we hold going back to Jesus, back to his spiritual ancestors, back to those who walked the earth and found holy ground. And what we do is often based on really ancient patterns—worship and music; loving service to the poor, the hurting, the lonely; working for justice and peace; lively, fearless education and formation of minds and souls. And that faith is also completely contemporary, engaged in the culture, and the needs of the moment.
What we are for
The dignity and worth of every person. An open-minded, passionate commitment to truth. The importance of everyone’s own spiritual journey. God’s friends, wherever we find them. Seeking Christ in every person who comes through the door. The sacredness of life’s rites of passage. The value of community. The hard work necessary to make sure that all are welcomed.
Telling the truth about life’s challenges. A “user-friendly” church experience. Children, youth, and families.
What we are against
Claiming to have all of the answers. Elitism and exclusivism, especially in church. Bigotry for any reason. Authoritarianism. Indifference to injustice and suffering. Certitude in the face of ambiguity and superficial answers to hard questions. Boring sermons, bad music, and general cluelessness. (So God help us, because we don’t always manage to avoid such as these.)
What we value
Community, open hearts, open minds, open arms. Faith. Fortitude. Staying current, but staying equally rooted in tradition. Reason and honesty. Civic responsibility as New Yorkers, Americans, and global citizens. Debate that allows for mutual respect. Music and beauty for their own sake. Joy in God’s creation. Anyone who makes an effort to get to know and to follow Jesus.