Why Jesus Matters

If you’ve learned anything about me over these past five months it is probably the fact that I am a little obsessed with West Virginia University. Granted, it is my alma mater and I am very proud of my education there. However, I am about as engrained into the culture of WVU as many of you are when it comes to Kentucky or Louisville.

I can name our greatest wins and losses with ease. The discontinuation of the Brackyard Brawl, to me, is the elimination of a great Thanksgiving tradition. I’m doing everything I can to teach Noah how to do the “first down cheer” and how to chant “Let’s Go Mountaineers.” And, yes, I may have purposely worn a gold and blue shirt to church the day after WVU defeated Kentucky to go to the Final Four in 2010.

I’m so obsessed with WVU that Abbi might be right to question if I can imagine life without the Mountaineers.

All of us have something we are obsessed with. It could be a football game to be played this afternoon. It might be some hobby we find relaxing. It could be our favorite piece of technology. It could be our jobs. It could be any number of things. What all these things have in common are that we are willing to schedule our lives around them. We even give these things a lot of influence over how we live our lives and relates to others.

So, imagine some of those things that take up much of your time. Can you imagine what your life would be like without those things? Now, let me ask you another question. Can you imagine your life without Christ involved in it?

This might seem like a simple question. We know and love Christ. However, the question really is not that simple. So many of us, in our churches and world today, live as if Jesus does not matter after 12 p.m., on Sundays. We live as if the life of Jesus Christ is not important to how we live and love others. Authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola touched on this in their book “Jesus Manifesto.” They wrote, “Something is wrong when it is easier for some Christians to think of the world without Christ than the world without Bach or the Beatles or Bono.” In other words, it is easier for us to be more concerned about losing the cultural influences in our lives than it is about wondering if Christ is truly at the center of who we are and seek to be.

This happens when we allow the things of the world to take the place that Christ deserves and must have in our lives and in our communities. Sweet and Viola say something else that is equally challenging. They write, “When we dethrone Jesus Christ from His rightful place, we tarnish the face of Christianity and redefine it out of existence.” This happens when we remove Christ from having influence and saying that Christ simply doesn’t matter to us.

So often we forget that our first love is Christ. We forget why Jesus matters in our lives, our families, our churches, and our world. True, we may recognize the importance of Christ in our head, but we sometimes forget the power and transformative hope of Christ in the depths of our soul. When this happens, we have a difficult time proclaiming the very hope that we seek and need to be defined by.

Indeed, we need to refocus ourselves, our communities, and our lives around the person and life of Christ. We must be willing to remember who Christ is, so that the depths of Christ’s love will be life changing for us and those who we encounter each day. On this Christ’s the King Sunday, we need a refresher on the majesty of Christ so that we might seek a deeper relationship with the Lord in our lives.

Colossians 1:15-20 gives us the words to refresh our memories of why Christ matters. These words are a hymn from the early church that likely predates this letter. It might have been an early confessional hymn, similar to the Apostle’s Creed we recite each week. Paul or one of his associates, it is believed, edited the hymn in order to bring a deeper focus onto the fact that Jesus Christ’s life and ministry has a purpose for the church and defines who we are.

The hymn starts by starting the Christ is the “visible image of the invisible God.” Jesus is God personified. He is God. We’ve allowed this fact to get diminished over the years, Sweet and Viola point out. Our focus on the human aspects of Jesus – his love and care for others – has come at the weakness of our attention of his divinity – the power behind his actions. Jesus did the things that he did in his earthly ministry not to make us feel better about ourselves, but so that the name of God may be known and glorified. We must remember that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. We cannot separate Jesus from the divine, so that when we see Jesus we do not just see a human, but we also see the Son of the Living God.

This is important for us. John 1 points this out. In Jesus, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God came down and resided with his very people. We do not worship a distant God who is absent from us. We, instead, worship a God who humbled himself by taking on humanity’s weaknesses, so that we might experience renewed life through Christ. Truly, God is with us in the person of Jesus Christ.

As we regain a focus upon Christ’s full nature, we are reminded that Christ existed before the beginning of time. He was present at creation and had an active role in seeing the world come into existence. Christ was the wisdom that guided creation into being. Not only that, but everything was created for the Lord. We were made to be in a relationship with our Lord. We were made for worship and to give praises to God, not just on Sundays but everyday by how we live. Since all things were made to relate with Christ, it is Christ who holds the world together by being the reconciler and offerer of hope into our world.

Jesus is everything. For this and more, Jesus Christ is our Lord. This is something we cannot forget, but it is something we often ignore. We place a lot of attention on the fact that Jesus is the author of salvation. This is true, but he is also the Lord of all things and every thing. Jesus is not just the one who saves us from our sins, but Jesus is also the one who seeks to have true rule and guidance over our lives. This is a powerful claim, because it reminds us that all the things in this world that we place our trust in will fail us. Only Jesus will not let us down. When we claim Jesus as Lord, we see that Christ leads us into what it means to love our families, to care for our world, to be centered on the hope and peace of Christ, how to share it with others, and so much more.

Jesus is our Lord, and that is especially true within the life of the church. We can never forget that Christ is the head of the church. Often we have the tendency to believe that it is our favorite program, or agendas, or tradition that truly shapes and guides the church. None of those things, like the things that seek to have power over our lives, can truly define what it means for us to be the church in our world. We must allow Christ to define how we seek to be the church today in our communities that surround us.

To refocus on the fact that Jesus is the head of the church reminds us that everything we do and say as a body must reflect the character and love of Christ. What we do must be to the glory of God, to build each other up, and to proclaim the hope of Christ in places of darkness. To claim Christ as the head of the church means we must be willing to go where Jesus leads and to be challenged by Christ’s desires for us and his church.

We can do this, as the hymn states, because Christ is the offerer of true reconciliation. Nothing else in the world can offer hope. Only Christ’s love and grace can do just that. It was a love that was evident upon the cross, when Jesus took our place and died our death. The resurrection sealed the promise of hope for all who would believe. Only when we trust in and claim Jesus for who he truly is can we experience the life-changing and life-giving hope of the Lord and reflect the image of Christ in our lives and the world.

Without a doubt Jesus matters today. Jesus always matters. There is a depth to Jesus that is beyond the understanding of words. Jesus is not merely a teacher. Jesus is not merely a friend. Jesus is not merely a guide. He is all of that and more. He is our Lord. He is our Savior. He is our Shepherd. He is our Everything.

On this Christ the King Sunday, we have an opportunity to refocus our lives and communities around the love of Christ and what Jesus desires for us. Jesus is truly all that we need. No other Lord or Shepherd will bring us towards the desires God has for us. We need Christ. We must be defined by Christ’s love, not just in our personal lives, but also in how we seek to be the church here in Latonia and in how we engage the world today.

No matter who we are we all need this reminder of who Christ is and why Jesus matters. We must daily focus ourselves and claim Christ as who he is for us and our church. The season of Advent, which begins next week, is a great time for this type of renewal. Advent calls us to slow down in the busyness and reflect upon why Christ matters and why it matters that in a sleepy town known as Bethlehem a child was born that changed how we relate to God and each other.

In a season that can so often be about the things we buy, what if we were to say “not this year?” What if we said this Advent and Christmas that we will slow down and focus ourselves on our love of Christ and the hope found in his words? What if we said that this season would be more about being re-centered on why Christ matters than about being the first in line for sales?

What would happen if a community of believers said that we would be about daily renewal and life-long yearning for Christ and to allow our love of Christ to define everything about us?

What if we said from this moment forward by our words, our actions, and our deeds that Jesus matters?

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We Must Share the Blame With Thanksgiving Sales

It seems like everyone is upset regarding the number of stores that will be open sometime during Thanksgiving. Many of these stores, like Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart, are banking on the hope that shoppers will leave their families in order to take advantage of early “door buster” savings. Since this happened in 2012 stores expect this to be the case this year.

The early openings have, as you can guess, led to many to claim that Thanksgiving is being taken over by corporate interest. Others claim it is unfair for workers to be forced to work and to be separated from their families. Both are valid points. It is difficult to see stores open on a day that is about family and the connection that comes around the table.

However, if we were to be truly honest some of the blame falls upon our shoulders. The reason stores have opened up earlier and earlier on Black Friday and have now reached into the late-evening hours of Thanksgiving is because we demanded this to happen. It is basic supply and demand. The more time we are willing to separate ourselves from our family and invest ourselves in the culture of consumerism means the more time stores are willing to give in order to supply our need to spend money.

Let me explain this through way of an illustration. A couple of years ago my wife and I could not travel for Thanksgiving because she had to work on Friday. We went to a Thanksgiving meal at church and then drove home. In order to get home we had to drive past the Fayette Mall shopping area in Lexington. We took a look over at Best Buy and people were already lined up around the store for the early-morning deals on new televisions and video games. It was probably 6 p.m. or so in the evening.

I’m sure the Lexington location was not the only place where this happened. If we are willing to give up our Thanksgiving evenings to sit on folding chairs in the freezing cold to wait for a store to open, then what reason do we have to be upset at a store willing to adjust its opening times to meet our demand?

We cannot.

However, what we can do, and I believe we need to, is reevaluate our consumeristic mindset, especially when it comes to Christmas. We have made Christmas into something it is not. Christmas is not about getting the best deal on the “must have” item of the year. It is not about rushing to the mall to check off items on lists and to purchase gifts we cannot afford. It is not about overdoing it to the point that we forget what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about the very simple and perfect. It is about a birth that changed the way we see the world and continues to do so today. It is about the incarnation of Christ in the world. It is about the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Until we, and I am including followers of Christ in this, are willing to let Christmas be about Christmas then we will continue to allow the culture to define Christmas for us. We will continue to allow our spending on gifts be the way that makes a “good Christmas.”

Even more, we will continue to see stores open “earlier and earlier” because we have a demand for something that is contrary to the very life-giving nature of Christmas.

Becoming Something New

There are some things I’ve grown accustomed to in my life. I may be 33 years old, but there are things that I prefer simply because it’s what I’m used to or how it’s always been.

For instance, I rarely eat cereal with milk. Most of the time I eat my morning Cheerios dry. It’s just something I’ve always done. I’ll pour my bowl, take it to the couch, and slowly eat my breakfast while watching “Sportscenter” or “CBS This Morning.”

I know that sounds odd and, I am sure, there are several dairy farmers who wish that I would more regularly pour milk into my cereal, but it is just something about myself that I’ve grown used to. It is part of who I am. I like it and I don’t see a reason to change this trait.

We all have things in our lives that we’ve grown accustomed too. They range from the serious to the silly. For instance, we might have certain ways that we prepare for the day, or why we only shop at a certain store, or why we drive a certain brand of automobile. No matter the reason, the things that we’ve grown accustomed to help to bring a sense of consistency into our lives, especially in an ever-changing world.

There is nothing wrong with having certain things that we are accustomed to. They tell us something about ourselves and gives us a glimpse into our personalities. It is really is acceptable to enjoy some things simply because it is “the way things are” or “have always been.”

I say that recognizing that there are some things in this world, and even in my own life, that I don’t want to be accustomed to. There are some things that I refuse to accept as “the way things are” or “have always been.”

I refuse to accept the violence that exists in our world and communities as just “how things are.” I don’t want to get used to the fact that so many of our families are broken. I don’t want to accept that there will always be people who struggle for food, to provide for their families, or to even have a basic education. Even within my own soul, and perhaps yours also, there are things I don’t want to accept as “how things are.” I don’t want to be used to feelings of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, or many of the negative emotions that can define how we see ourselves and others.

There must be something better. I yearn for this. I yearn for something new to be created in our world and, truly, within our lives. Something deep and holy that recognizes that they way things are are not as they were meant to be. I yearn for the image of a renewed and deep life that Isaiah paints for us in our passage from Isaiah 65:17-25.

Isaiah’s words come at an interesting point in Israel’s history. Israel has returned to Jerusalem after spending years in Babylon. This happened after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. Scripture says this was because of Israel’s continued disobedience towards God. The people of Israel had experienced their worst defeat and were now returning to Jerusalem to start over.

It was a new day for the people, but it would have been easy to assume that they way things were were how they would always be. It would’ve been easy for the people to live in fear and to accept that they would always be dominated by outside forces. Anyone in Israel would’ve been excused for living in a perpetual state of fear and hopelessness.

However, Isaiah desires for Israel, and us, not to live in fear, but to cling to our hopeful promise. That promise is that God is creating something new. God is working to create something new  where brokenness, pains, and hurt exists. This is our hope. A hope that the way things are are not how things have to be. Isaiah expresses this promise, truly, beginning a verse earlier than our passage. In Isaiah 65:16, he writes that God will “forget the evil of earlier days.” Truly, God will forget the brokenness and bring about something beautiful and holy in those places.

This is truly the work of transformation and bringing creation back to its original purpose. Genesis tells us that God created everything perfect. Creation was made to be in a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord. However, we know this is not the case today. We can see that the world is not as God intended. This is because of the choices that we make every day that distance ourselves from God. From our spiritual ancestors of Adam and Eve, to the people of Israel, and down to us, we each have made choices that have distanced ourselves from God and harmed how we relate to each other. The brokenness in the world is not because it is how things are. The brokenness in our world exists because we choose to maintain broken relationships with each other and our Lord.

Yet, the good news is that even though this brokenness exists God never stops working to redeem creation. God never stops reaching out to us. Even though we distance ourselves from God, our Lord took it upon himself to bridge the gap and redeem creation. It was an act that began once sin entered the world, and has its fullest expression through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When brokenness shattered God’s creation, God began the work of creating something new, something holy, something loving, through what Christ did for the world and for each of us.

What is doing is remaking us into the people that God desires us to be. God wants to take our hurts, our pains, our wounds, our brokenness, and transform them. He wants to move us from being defined by our hurt and make us into a people who are defined by our hope and love. Truly, God desires for us to be transformed and to reflect what it means to be a child of God.

That is the something new that God desires and it is reflected in much of Isaiah’s imagery. We see that Isaiah reflects on some of the characteristics of God and says that this new creation will look just like that. The new creation will reflect the holiness and love of God. For instance, where there was once brokenness and pain there will be joy. Where there were once enemies there will be connection and a deep relationships. This is the reality that God is working to bring about in our world and in each of us.

It is a reality that will come when Christ’s returns in final victory. That is our hope. We claim this hope that when Christ returns that life will be restored. Revelation builds off Isaiah’s image and gives us a beautiful picture of what this will look like. This is the hope that we remember as we move into the Advent season in a couple of weeks. Advent is about waiting for this hope of new creation to come. It is about trusting that Christ will come again. It is about our hearts truly yearning for Christ’s return and this new creation to come when we sing songs like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

We live with that hope each day. We live with the promise that God is not done building something new where there was brokenness. But, we do not have to wait for tomorrow to receive this hope today. While God is at work redeeming creation for the time to come, we can experience a taste of that new creation in our lives today. We do so by allowing Christ to transform us and to do the work of guiding us into what it means to reflect the love of Christ each day.

This happens when we allow God to do this work of transformation in us. We are called to a daily life of renewal and of being remade daily into the image of God. It only happens when we are willing to put aside our expectations of “how things are” or “how they’ve always been” and allow God to do something new within us. It is the work of allowing God to shepherd us into a deeper relationship, to let go of our fears and doubts, and to be willing to be molded by the love of Christ. This is true spiritual growth that comes as we reflect more of the humility and love of Christ. Becoming something new in Christ is about becoming something less, about letting ourselves go, so that Christ can become more in our lives and the world around us. God never stops desiring for us to reflect the love of Christ and shows us the way forward through the peace of the Holy Spirit working in us.

In his work in India, Ghandi once said something that I believe is appropriate for us today. I’m paraphrasing, but he said if we want to see change in the world then it must begin with us. If we want to see brokenness eliminated in the world, then the work must begin in us by allowing Christ to redeem our brokenness. If we want to see hope in the world, then we must allow Christ to speak hope into our lives. If we want to see growth in our churches, then we must allow Christ to help us grow closer to the Lord so that we may reflect Christ’s love into the world. If we want to see something new in this world, then the work must begin in us and allowing God to do something new in us. We must allow God to do the work of recreating us to reflect God’s holiness and love.

We do not have to grow accustomed to how things are today and accept the way things are. We can hope in something better and that is that God is doing something new in us and it is available for each of us today. What if we refused to accept things as they are, today, and seek the way things could and should be in Christ? What if we did this in our lives and as a church?

God has something beautiful for us. Will you allow God to show you this today?

Life Lessons While Sick

For the last week or so, I’ve been suffering from a bad case of pneumonia. Now that I think about it, I don’t believe there is a good case of pneumonia. I’ve had all the symptoms of it and have taken all the antibiotics for it. Right now, I’m probably about 75 percent of full health and have slowly (for me) worked myself back into a full schedule of ministry and life.

As someone who likes to be busy, the last few days have reminded me of the need for sabbath, balance, and priorities. I recognize my sickness is the result of a busy lifestyle that attempts to stretch more sunlight into a day than is available. Balance is needed, for all of us, in order to do the things that we must do in life, whether it is our jobs, love our families, or even to enjoy the things that find us rest.

This is especially true for me as a pastor, husband, and father, I need balance and a right perspective to do what God has called me to do. What does this mean?

First, I must attend to my soul and physical self. I must be grounded in my faith and centered in my relationship with the Lord. If I am not, then I am going through life without direction or purpose. I become lost and without focus on that which truly sustains and centers me, which is my faith in Jesus Christ. I must be willing to grow daily as a disciple so I may disciple others in their faith.

Within that, I must be willing to care for my physical self. I have to do the things that provide me rest, sustain my health, and give me energy. I have to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep, even if I want to eat that extra cookie, lay off the walking paths, or stay up to watch some documentary. At the same time, I must do things that give me enjoyment, whether it is playing golf or spending time with some of my favorite hobbies. To not do these things limits me, physically, which inhibits my ability to care for others.

I am learning this.

I’m also learning that I must care for my family. I must do the things that help sustain and support my marriage with my wife and provides me time with my son. Those are important to me. How can I promote strong family values and the sense of being a family if I am not willing to live into that within my own home? My family deserves all of me when I am home, and that is not something that I’ve always given.

That is not healthy. Yes, there are times when I will be home late, out at all hours, and away for multiple nights, but I must build in patterns of life where when I am home I am not an absent husband or father. I never want my family to have a bad taste in their mouth for the church because of me. I can do a better job about this.

I am learning this.

I’m also learning that if I am struggling with being and doing then how many others of us (pastors or laity) struggle with this. In our fast-paced, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture, we have promoted a culture that says that unless you are busy 100 percent of the time, or always engaged in something then you are not effective or vital. That cannot be further from the truth. To be vital we must learn to become who God desires us to be. Our identity must not be focused upon what we do, but who we are in Christ and how our relationship with the Lord defines and influences our relationships with others.

The Christ-focused life is not built on a life of doing, but a life of being that inspires our doing.

We (pastors and leaders) must be willing to live this out, so that others may know how to live this life out for themselves in their own lives. This must be my commitment. It will be from here forward.

Let us all learn how to live deeper and better.

 

Our Spiritual Inheritance

In April, Pope John Paul II will be canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic tradition. It is the culmination of a long process of recognizing his contributions to the church and his memory. This canonization process includes an acknowledgement that various healings may be attributed to his life.

When this happens, Pope John Paul, II’s name and ministry will be placed along side the many saints in that tradition. Currently, there are more than 10,000 people who are remembered as a saint. This includes people such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Thomas More, and, one of my personal favorites, John Chrysostom.

In the Methodist and Protestant traditions we do not recognize saints in this way. However, that hasn’t stopped us from thinking about saints in this sort of way. This idea of saints and sainthood defines much of our understanding of saint. When we think of a saint we automatically turn to this image. We believe a saint is someone of high morality and ethics, someone who has done something exceptional for the kingdom of God, and whose servant hearts goes beyond all measure.

What if I told you that we are all saints? This seems a little shocking or odd to say, especially given this background. We may not think of ourselves as morally good enough to be considered as such. We perhaps think we have done anything of transformative worth for the kingdom. We might question if our servant heart is truly servant-nature enough. Yet, each of us gathered, and everyone throughout the world and time, are saints.

Thinking of ourselves as a saint joins us with Paul’s words from Ephesians 1:11-23. The NLT uses “God’s people” where other translations describe the Greek as “saints.” The intent is the same. Paul is trying to connect us to something that we all share in common. That is that we have a spiritual inheritance as members of God’s kingdom. We have this inheritance of being one with God through our desire to claim faith in what Christ did for us upon the cross.

On this All Saint’s Day we are reminded that our spiritual inheritance is that we are saints who participate in something greater than ourselves. Everyone who has claimed faith in God throughout time are part of this community that is defined by God’s love and hope. The meaning of this inheritance is importance for us to understand. For this inheritance defines who we are not just today, but always.

It was an important message that Paul expresses in this letter. We’re not entirely sure what church this letter was written to. While the initial words of Chapter 1 seem to suggest it was to the church in Ephesus, there are some who believe this letter was part of a letter that would be read in various communities throughout Asia Minor. In these times, Paul was leading an effort of connecting Christians of Jewish heritage with those of Gentile background. So, bringing people to a recognition of their shared commonality as members of God’s community would help to foster this connection.

Our inheritance is a common identifier among us all. There are no boundaries that prevent some from receiving this inheritance. It is available to all people, as Paul would express in Galatians. Everyone can receive this spiritual inheritance.

So, what does this inheritance mean? Think about an inheritance for a moment. Someone gives us something of theirs so that we can participate in this thing, whether it is wealth or enjoyment of some memento that was special to them. We are given something that belongs to someone else, so that we might enjoy the benefits of it.

That is what our spiritual inheritance looks like. God gives us a gift of participating in the communion of saints. The Lord does this so that we may experience the benefits of this relationship. Those benefits are the joys of God’s peace, hope, love, presence, and, truly, forgiveness. This is a free gift given to us. We did not earn this inheritance, but God has given it to us. The blessings are many. Our spiritual inheritance allows us to connect to something greater than ourselves and brings us closer to God.

How might we receive this spiritual inheritance? How can we claim our participation in God’s kingdom, the communion of saints, this morning? Paul gives us an outline of how we can participate in the communion of saints in verse 13. It is a three-step process of how this inheritance comes to be in our lives.

First, we must hear the word of truth. That is we must hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the good news of God’s indwelling into humanity through Jesus and how Jesus offers grace, hope, and salvation to all. In order to claim our inheritance we must hear of Christ and what the Lord did for us on the cross and how he lives today and sits at God’s right hand. We have to hear God’s word and seek to understand what it means.

For this to happen we need someone to walk along side us. We cannot hear and understand God’s word in isolation. We need a community surrounding us and helping us work through what these words mean and what it means to live God’s truth out. We need someone like a Philip who helped the Ethiopian in Acts 8 to fully understand who Jesus is and what it means to follow his footsteps.

Once we have heard the word, then, in order to receive this inheritance we must believe that Christ died for us. We cannot claim our inheritance as saints as bystanders who never make a claim of faith. Hearing God’s word demands a response. That response is for us to claim for ourselves that what Christ did on the cross he did for me, for you, for each of us, for all of us.

To claim this inheritance we must make the daily determination to live for Christ. It is about turning away from the things of this world and taking on the things of Christ. We cannot begin to claim our spiritual inheritance as participants in the communion of saints if we seek to live as if our lord is not Christ, but the things of this world. If we truly want to claim our inheritance then it requires a daily act of  claiming Christ as both our Lord and Savior.

Finally, we must be marked by the Holy Spirit. It is an act that happens upon our baptism. When we are adorned with the water, we are sealed with a promise. That promise is that God’s presence, the Holy Spirit, will reside in us and guide us towards faithful living each day. There is another promise. That is the promise that we are members of God’s community. That we are set apart as part of the communion of Saints. It is a promise that when Christ comes that we will be welcomed into the glorious kingdom.

This is a future promise, but it is also a current reality as well. We are called to live into this reality today. This is what it means to be members of the body of Christ – the church. The promise of the Holy Spirit is that we will grow in wisdom and seek to live each day as people who aim to share Christ’s love, extend acts of mercy, and help others to hear God’s word and believe for themselves. We are called to a daily reminder that we are connected to something greater than ourselves and that is God’s kingdom.

This is a kingdom that is welcome to all. The spiritual inheritance is a grace that is available to everyone. To you, to me, to those who believe the church has nothing for them, to the person whose life is filled with obstacles, to truly everyone.

Our great spiritual heritage and inheritance is that we are members of something greater than ourselves and it calls us to live every day in response to God’s love. To be people who desire to be connected with God and each other. We are all saints. We are all God’s people. This reality calls us to mind the depths of God’s love for us.

No matter who we are we are defined by our commonality as participants in God’s kingdom. This morning, on this All Saint’s Sunday, we can reconnect to our sainthood, our participation in God’s kingdom at the table. As you eat this bread and drink from this cup, be reminded that God’s has welcomed you into a great relationship based upon a desire to live for the Lord. Reconnect yourself to this relationship this morning.

But, rise with the hope to live for something truly holy. Rise with a desire to live as members of something more important than anything we could ever imagine. That is that we are members of God’s kingdom. We don’t have to be perfect to be in God’s kingdom. We don’t have to have all the right answers. All that matters is that we have heard the word, believed in Christ’s love, and seek it every day.

So, rise and claim your inheritance. You are a saint. We are saints. We are inheritors of God’s kingdom.