Wednesday, October 28, 2009

remembering the saints

This Sunday, we celebrate All Saints' Day.

Our worship is always a special time--besides getting us together in God's presence, it also becomes a way of transcending our own time and place. I think worship is more than a little like time travel.

Only, unlike the Land of the Lost kind of time travel, worship doesn't transport us to some distant past. It's projects us forward to the Kingdom of God, where the whole of God's community--all through time and space--is gathered together. Worship is a glimpse into the future that God holds, and it's a good time...

There's lots of things I love the tradition of painting the images of saints on the walls of churches. Mostly, I love the way it reminds us of our belonging in this really big community, and that our church life today comes along with the blessing and spiritual presence of our ancestors in faith. "A cloud of witnesses," Paul called them, in his letter to the Hebrews.

When I visited Crete recently, with the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Plenary, we worshiped on Sunday at the Cathedral of Kastelli-Kissamos on western Crete. Though the Divine Liturgy was ancient, the cathedral building is modern, and some of the frescoes were still being painted. Which left this set of saints toward the back of the main nave:

Some others and I wondered if these were left here as in invitation--a sort of "if you were a saint, your picture could be here." An invitation to church to remember that we are among those called to be witnesses to Christ's love in a way that has power even after our deaths.

This week, we'll read a story from the Hebrew Bible of a woman who made a powerful choice for belonging with another, as we begin Ruth's story. And, we'll remember the law that's at the heart of our life in the church: our command to love God and neighbor.

In all this, we'll also be remembering the saints in our midst--members of our congregation, families and community who have died in the past year. And, as always, we'll gather at the communion table in a feast that connects us to them, by the mystery of God.

Hope to see you there.


Anonymous said...

Love your neighbor as yourself is akin to the golden rule which is what Ruth did with her mother-in-law. This is good stuff; where you go I will go; follow me... See you in the Cove. Fred

offbeatpoet said...

Thank You for sharing the picture of the mural from the Cathedral. The moment I looked at the picture I was reminded of the universal nature of Christainity. "All are Welcome." The vibrant colors and the lack of distinct features demonstrate the concept that anyone can put there face within the mural. Moreover, I was reminded of Islam and the lack of paintings to describe Mohammed "peace be upon his name" (note to reader, I am Christain, but I don't want to offend other religions) and his message concerning God. The painting embraces human nature inherent need to express a complex idea to another simply. To understand the Quran you have to learn Arabic. However, paintings can be misleading and words have no color. Wow, I wish i could paint something now. Thanks for the picture.