All Saints’ Day
The Reverend Ashley Mather, Curate

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

 

Knit Together with All the Saints

Today is full of richness with it being All Saints’ Day. It is also a day where our collect reminds us that we have been knit together in one communion.

Last weekend we had our annual diocesan convention, and like many other events and gatherings this year, it was like no other. Normally we would have gathered here in Topeka from across the diocese over the course of two days to discuss, debate, and vote on the business of the church. And while that part may not sound glamorous, it’s also a gathering that has a bit of a family reunion feel to it. Clergy and lay leaders get to know one another through these gatherings. There is always someone new to welcome or to meet, and it’s full of joyful hugs, sharing meals together, and simply being in communion with one another.

This year, the diocesan staff worked wonders to pull off this one day virtual gathering that contained minimal glitches and ensured that the business of the church properly took place. As a participant, I was amazed at how seamlessly it all flowed together, and yet, my soul ached for those hugs, those shared words over meals, and those interactions that simply aren’t able to happen in a virtual setting.

But the theme for this convention was that we are “joined and knitted together”, and in Bishop Cathleen’s opening address she used the example of actually knitting to remind us of the many ways that we are knitted together, even in the midst of the physical separation that has had to take place due to COVID-19. And even though my soul still ached for what was, being reminded that we are one people and that we are indeed knit together helped to make the pain a little less.

These days, there seems to be pain and hurt all around us. There have been too many deaths from COVID-19 and from violence. We’re narrowing in on a contentious election that seems too focused on degrading the other side than on fighting the issues. We aren’t able to gather for celebrations or for sorrows, and the pain of this world is becoming too much to bear.

There are no easy fixes for pain this deep, but we can find ways to lessen the collective pain that is weighing on us. Like many of us were reminded at convention, I think we all need to be re-minded of our oneness through Christ, and that through our baptisms, we are marked as Christ’s own forever.

Earlier this week, I was listening to a preaching podcast and one of the pastors shared a story about a little boy dressed up as Super Man for Halloween a few years ago. The pastor noticed that this little boy wasn’t carrying his own candy bag, so he asked him about it. The little boy responded: “It’s too heavy for me.” And the pastor said “but you’re Super Man!” The little boy looked at the muscles on his costume and then looked back at the pastor and whispered “this is just a costume.”

As baptized Christians, sometimes the pain of this world can be so much that we find ourselves saying “this is just a costume,” but unlike this little boy dressed up as Super Man, we are marked as Christ’s own forever. And while sometimes that may feel like a burden, like a costume we want to simply take off, we aren’t Christ’s own individually…we are Christ’s own knit together within the communion of saints.

Similarly to Bishop Cathleen’s metaphor at convention, it’s as if we are knit together in a blanket as individual stitches that make up the infinite breadth of the communion of saints. This blanket was cast on at the beginning of time and is made up of those saints that have gone before us, and through our baptisms we are knit into this blanket of support. And there is an infinite amount of yarn to incorporate those who have yet to come. Even after being knitted in, there is flexibility in yarn. There is also flexibility in the communion of saints to be the people who God has called us to be, and we are surrounded by the support of our fellow saints while we live out those callings. But being part of this communion also means that we must also be strength to others. It means that we can only stray so far before we feel the bounds of our oneness. So we must seek the balance.

As you all have hopefully heard by now, I have been called to be the next rector at St. Paul’s in Manhattan here in our diocese and will end my time here at Grace at the end of December. Being part of this community has been an incredible blessing on my life, and I will forever be grateful to have served alongside you as your curate. We have two more months together but beginning to say goodbye has been hard, but even in the midst of saying goodbye and even as our relation-ships begin to change, I am comforted to know that we are all knit together within the communion of saints.

So, my fellow saints, as the pain of this world becomes too much to bear, remember that at your baptism you are marked as Christ’s own forever and are part of the communion of saints. Things in our world are different for the time being, and it can feel quite lonely, so for now, I ask that you simply recall the ways in which you are and will always be knit together among the saints.

AMEN.