For all the saints

6210980691_822cc485bc_o.jpgPhoto Credit: “World Communion Table”, © 2011 wplynn, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,* having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this* is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. 15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love* towards all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God* put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:11-23.

       When my mom and dad downsized and moved into a much smaller home, they asked me and my siblings to decide what furniture we would like to have from the house since they would not have room in their new location for it. I don’t remember how we got there, but I was happy with the outcome. I would get the dining room table.

This dining room table first sat in the household of my great, great grandmother. My parents received the table when they married and it sat in our dining room table for as long as I can remember.

It is a part of the story of our family.

I remember it most sitting in our dining room at the farm in Goderich ON. But most of all, I remember the stories of those that I cared for as they gathered round that dining room table:

Like the one the every day occurrence of setting the table sometimes with all of mom’s finery, waiting for my siblings and their families to arrive for holiday meals. There are memories of playing crokinole with my family and one particularly memorable game when my Grandpa Steckle and my nephew played together one Christmas.

I remember putting together the only 500 piece puzzle I ever did with my friend Laura Campbell one New Year’s Eve and icing Christmas cookies with my Grandma Erb. I remember many Christmas celebrations as we filled that dining room with not only that table but two other ones as the Erb family held their traditional Christmas get together.

I remember sitting there uncomfortably while my boyfriend at the time met my big brothers and their families on my 18th birthday. I remember ‘studying’ for a French exam with Michelle as we prepared tortierre and crepes. I remember hosting my first dinner party as I gathered with my friends as we returned home to celebrate the holidays during my college years.

That dining room table is a symbol of a connection to the stories of my childhood and they all make up a part of who I am.

In 2006, my aunt and uncle visited us to celebrate with me, my ordination. They brought with them that table with all of its memories from my past.

From then on, it proudly sat in our dining room here in Esterhazy. In its way that dining room table connected me not only to the people of my past but it also connected me to my present life here in Saskatchewan.

As Darryl and I began our life together, we not only created new memories of our own, we were connected to a sense of heritage, a family, something that was bigger than just he and I.

So, when I would feed my children their first tastes of solid food at that table, we shared something in common with the many babies who had been fed at that table. When we would sit down and pray together before meals, or at meetings with some of you, we were connected to all those of faith who had gathered to pray at that table.

Who we are as a family, is connected to that table because we share in something bigger. We share in a long line of human beings sticking it out as family through thick and thin. We share the life blood of the past that connects us to the hope of the future.

We are a large part of who we because of our stories and that table reminds us of those stories and our connection to something that is bigger than we are, bigger than our failures, bigger than our successes. It is about community and love.

That’s exactly the kind of gathering, the kind of church, the kind of being together as a people of faith that we remember on this All Saints Sunday.

We are remembering that as we gather around this table:

we are gathering with those who have gone before us in faith, the ones we remember and the ones we do not.

we are gathering with those who are present with us and those who are not.

we are gathering around this table with the ones who are to come.

And we are gathering together in hope with Christ as our host, receiving sustenance and life “because in Christ we have also obtained an inheritance…so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.”[1]

We gather around this table in all our fears and our frailities, in all our hopes and our dreams, in all of who we are redeemed by the Christ who calls, who gathers us, and who moves within us to draw us all to God.

Some of them we remember, like the ones that we are naming today and we feel the grief of their physical absence.

Some of whose names are forgotten in history but who God remembers and brings into the communion with us.

Some of them we have never known but their stories have been shared down through the ages pointing us toward God.

And we are all gathered here connected in the body of Christ as one.

We do have a connection to all those who have come before and to all those that will yet come…Jesus Christ.

This past Monday, on the 499th anniversary of the Reformation, the world witnessed the coming together of Roman Catholics and Lutherans in a Cathedral in Lund worshiping that Christ despite our differences and our violent history.

We gathered and we prayed.

We gathered and we sang.

We gathered from all places and from all times to witness the reconciling love of Christ.

So today, as we remember those who have personally touched our lives with their faith, as we remember those who have died in the past year, we join in song with all of those from all times and all places celebrating our connection still to one another. But more than that, together we point to something bigger than us, a God who tells the story that nothing keeps us separate from this God who wildly and recklessly love us and draws us all to him.

Thanks be to God!

[1] Ephesians 1:11-12.

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