1 John 3:1-3, for Sunday, 10/30/11
Tomorrow is Halloween; If we attend a party, we often don’t know who are behind the masks we see until the end of evening. AND, if you have little masked goblins at your door, sometimes you can ask them to reveal themselves AFTER you give them their treats.
Many people are like that; we don’t get the real picture of a person until after their life is over and the truth is revealed.
Tho For some people; we get to see behind their mask as they grow older. Maturity and life decisions reveal the person inside.
I can think of some presidents that became revered statesmen only after they left the White House.
Our lives are not as much as an unmasking as a maturing or evolving and continual growing. Remember last week when we talked about the gospel according to Paul? One of the things he preached, that is central to our faith, was sanctification.
Sanctification comes after our commitment or our acceptance of God’s generous offer, which we confirm and make public with our baptism.
Sanctification is simply the maturing of our faith.
But it doesn’t happen alone.. We can’t do it w/o the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit. We also can’t do it without the mysterious forming by Christ’s Community, the Church.
Our maturing as faithful, -always-growing-Christians is a mystery – one for which we give thanks. But one aspect of our maturing we DO know about; it is this forming that comes in community.
Our on-going forming involves living life like Jesus did. If we go back a chapter in this letter we read, in v.2.6, “”Whoever says I abide in him(Jesus), ought to walk as he walked.”[i] It takes all of us together to ‘walk as Jesus walked’.
We often want to live like someone else.
Have you ever wanted to be part of another family?
Have you ever wanted to live someone else’s life? Sometimes Halloween is a chance to pretend to be someone we could never be in regular life.
But for us it is more than a masquerade. Because of God’s gift, we get to be more as part of Christ’s Church than we could ever be alone.
Our spiritual inheritance is that we are members of God's family; it is our entitlement, and it includes the “blessings & benefits, privileges & powers that a relationship with Christ implies.
It also includes the “relationship with have with each other.[ii] “We not only bear each others burdens but also claim for those who have died the hope & confidence we have together in the risen Christ.” That’s how scholar Grace JiSun Kim puts it. Our membership in God’s family includes an on-going connection to those who have died who continue to be part of God’s family.
This membership is more than a mask we don on Sundays. We are connected to each other all week long, just as we are connected to Christ. It is a great mystery without a doubt that it is in this church, this congregation that we are transformed into the image of Christ . . . and it is a great mystery that we also remain connected to those we remember today; our Saints.
Our Saints are a vital part of our maturing in faith; our ‘sanctification’ that comes after baptism.
You might ask, How are we formed by people who are no longer with us? Or even those ‘Saints’ who lived so long ago that we never met them?
"We are blessed by them, by their faith, & their witness. Their strength is for us, supporting us and their strength is for our witness to others.”[iii]
They are a vital part of our sanctification as those who have accepted God’s gift of grace and are members of Christ’s church.
What can we do to honor them today?
We can “remember, that, even tho our loved ones have died, it is thru their love and compassion, their instruction & correction,
their laughter & tears, their honesty & humility,
their sacrifice, & dedication, & most of all their faith,
they are still speaking.”[iv] (To us.)
We can join them in the ‘legacy of love that never ends’[v]. The letter we read part of today stress that ‘as in human relationships, only those who love and are loved can speak of love as an experienced reality rather than an abstraction or an unfulfilled yearning.”[vi] We are loved by God, we are loved by our Saints and because we have experienced that love as a reality in our lives we can speak of this life-changing love to others.
Even as our saints are still speaking, our lives are speaking the truth of our living. We are revealing a legacy that shows who we are even now, as we are still being formed.
From the time of our baptism * all thru our sanctification, our maturing in faith is the core of our life in God’s family. We are revealing WHOSE we are every day.
Today I remind you that you are saints as much as this cloud of witnesses surrounding us.
Have you accepted God’s offer of adoption? And if so,
as a saint, adopted into God's family at your baptism,
what is your life saying?