Sermon for All Saints 2018

Published on Tue, 20 Nov 2018 13:44
Rainbow Notes

Rainbow Notes for All Saints 2018: Giles Goddard  

If we think of the saints, we tend to think of po-faced people glaring down at us from stained glass windows or ancient pictures. Which is a shame, because it distances us from them: and gives a false impression!  The saints were human: they got cross, they were jealous and irritable, and many of them also had a sense of humour.

Some were known for their rich sense of humour. St. Philip Neri, a 16th-century Italian priest was called “The Humorous Saint.” Over his door he posted a small sign that read, “The House of Christian Mirth.” En route to a ceremony in his honour, he once shaved off half his beard, as a way of poking fun at himself. “Christian joy is a gift from God, flowing from a good conscience,” he said. And “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.”

Saints are people like us. But people who understood something very profoundly:  they understood what is the heart of our being.

It relates to Jesus’ question: Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone!  (Mark 10.8: ) The chief aim of human beings is not to be good – we can’t do that on our own – the chief aim of human beings is to worship.

Or, as the Westminster Catechism says,

Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Excuse the sexist language! But the point is real.  If we say , the chief end of humankind is to glorify God, then all we can do is turn towards God, towards the source of our being, towards the grounding of love – expressed in Jesus, in the Spirit, in God – and do the best we can! And it starts with worship – with what we are doing here, now, together, on a Sunday morning.

Today’s Gospel, the raising of Lazarus, ends with this phrase:  Unbind him, and let him go! 

How many of us feel bound? Bound by our expectations, bound by our sense of failure, of inadequacy, by fear, by pressures of work, of money, of time, of the world around us pressing in…

The saints were just the same. They had pressures too.  But all of them, in some sense, were unbound: because they understood that the chief end of humanity is to give glory to God.

So let’s try to unbind ourselves, by putting the glory of God at the heart of our being, and at the heart of our worship.

Yea, we know your heart rejoices in each work divine, using minds and hands and voices in your great design; craftsman's art and music's measure for your pleasure all combine.

Here to you, great God, we offer praise in harmony, and for your acceptance proffer all unworthily, hearts and minds and hands and voices in our choicest psalmody.

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