Living life unafraid of death

 Gate Pa – All Saints/All Souls 2012


Hebrew Scripture:      Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm:                         23       
Epistle:                        Revelations 21:1-6a
Gospel:                        Mark 12: 28-34

What I want to say:

Explore All Saints/All Souls as a day to celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us, and to do that facing our own mortality, so that we can live each day as a gift both from God and those we celebrate.
Use Mark as mean to explore how we might live each day as a celebration

What I want to happen:

People to not be afraid of their mortality, but to live embracing their mortality, rejoicing in every day


The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

today celebrate both all saints and all souls day
refer to pew sheet
what are
All Saints -
NT –saints– everyone
            with persecutions and martyrdom, became martyrs
            then wider all those great people of faith
                        look up to
                        inspired by
            @C8th day to remember them all -> continue being influenced by them
Halloween is All Hallows (or All Saints) eve – day before all saints.
All Souls –
arose later, through influence of Benedictine reform movement based in Cluny in France
remember all people of faith
 acknowledge and celebrate role they had in our lives
today we remember all saints of God,
great saints,
little saint,
nameless ones who have lived their faith
today also we remember saints of God we have known and loved
who helped shape who we are today
whose passing we remember and mark today

     2.      Día de los Muertos

lucky enough to go to Mexico couple of years ago for a meeting
            time of Día de los Muertos – or Day of the Dead
origins are in indigenous celebration across Central and South America
            time when people believed the dead returned to earth to visit with and to give advice to family and loved ones
altars set up with dead’s favourite foods, drinks (hungry and thirsty from long journey back)
                        Favourite items
                        items associated with them
Catholic missionaries (particularly Franciscan missionaries) arrived
– noted festival fell around same time All Saints +All Souls
incorporated it into Christian cycle of festivals
as way Christianising what people were already doing, and in all truth would keep doing
Today in Mexico huge huge festival
whole place     shuts down
            huge street parties
            people out plethora costumes
city centres taken over with markets
and  altars remember, celebrate and honour all sorts of people who have past
            founders political parties and variety organisations
            revolutionaries from revolution 200 years ago
            prominent citizens
remembering those died over last year
churches altars for significant parishioners
patronal saints, etc…
it is huge
also time families gather around graves loved ones
tidy them
place candles, flowers, photos  and the favourite foods of the deceased
family eat, sings and tells favourite stories about those who have died.
            honour and remember them
what we are doing here without elaborate altars
            opportunity to remember, celebrate and honour.    
                        we will soon have opportunity to mark those passed in last year

     3.      Our Mortality

Day of the Dead not only about those who have died
is also day remember that we all die
             we are all mortal

Here in Western have  become afraid of death, especially our own death
I am susceptible of that as anyone
surprised lately taken aback by
            how old I am
            how soon retirement will be upon me
            am aware I am same age as when met parents in law
one whom died, and one mid 80’s
doesn’t seem that long ago
suddenly faced with my own mortality
taken me aback
not always comfortable with that
Day of dead reminds us all we will all pass on from this life one day
rather worry about that (as I can do)
invited me, invites us we are treat each day as a gift
gift from God
gift from both those gone before us
not mean it will always be easy or full of joy
            our own experiences as people who have lost someone we love testifies to that
            while some scriptures we heard promise end to death and suffering, that end is not yet.
we live in world where pain and suffering continue
we are to remember, as Psalm promises (in hymn we sang based 23rd Psalm) that we are not alone in this
God is with us
will continue to be with us through darkest times
what then does it mean to live life as a gift?

      4.      Mark

I think passage from Mark has some clues
extraordinary conversation between scribe and Jesus
remember this story set as Tuesday of Jesus last week
entered Jerusalem manner contrasts with Roman governor
cleared out temple, and through all Mark baiting and provoking Jewish leaders, Judean elite
            end with Jesus arrest and death
Scribes are among Judean elite provoking
in light of all that, surprisingly warm and cordial conversation
Jesus asked identify greatest commandment
            love God with everything
            love your neighbour as yourself
here is interesting thing about these
            oten read as separate things
            children’s talk invited me to discuss with children how love God
                        going church
then how love neighbour
all of which ignores Scribes outrageous response
loving neighbour is more important than all religious activities usually associated with loving and honouring God
            whole sacrificial system
loving neighbour as oneself is how love God with everything
Mayor’s prayer breakfast
Mark Powell (CEO Warehouse Group) suggested we can understudy this to mean secular context
            be involved in something much bigger than yourself
            work so that others can flourish
that is pretty good way living life in way that celebrates each day
celebrates those who have gone before us
when do that, we will be able to embrace out own end
            in this way
celebrate All Saints and All Souls Day
honour and celebrate our loved ones