Sunday, November 02, 2014

Now, on All Saints' Sunday

It's the first day of "fall back," the return to standard time. It's also All Saints' Sunday. The golden evening is gathering in the west, as the sun sets at 4:43 today here on the eastern end of the Central Time Zone.

A gentleman named Duane is outside raking my leaves. He may, or may not, have a job interview tomorrow at Walmart, or Cosco. He rang the doorbell, and begged, hands folded, for the job. He said he was a Christian. Maybe he is, or maybe he just thought it was a good thing to say. He may, or may not, be high on something.

In truth I wanted him to go away, but he was persistent, and there is cash left over from the weekend in my wallet with which to pay him. I told him to meet me around back at the garage door and I'd give him a rake. He introduced himself again on the back sidewalk and asked my name.

Gwen, I said. As I punched the code into the garage door opener, I added, and I am a Christian too.

We are both saints.

"Blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor," said this morning's Gospel reading.  I'm more certain of Duane falling into these categories than I am of myself. Even if he's only meek some of the time. Even if  he bears some responsibility for his own poverty.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." I'll give him this. I think Duane's claim to the name of Christian suggests that he desires to be forgiven and righteous before God. And anyway, it's God's blessing to give, not mine to judge or withhold.

The word I heard most in church this morning was "now." "Beloved, we are God's children now" in the second lesson. "Blessed are you, now," in the pastor's sermon. There were multitudes washing their white robes in the blood of the lamb in some distant heaven, out of time, out of space, in the first reading from Revelation. There were saints passing in bright array in the great Vaughn Williams hymn for the day. There were the names of those who have died in Christ in the last year in our congregation read out loud in solemnity and tearfulness.

But the word I heard was "now." The hymn I loved was Fred Pratt Green's text describing where you find saints now: marching with events, bearing someone's cross, showing patience in caring.

When we got to the "forever and ever" in the Lord's Prayer--I wondered, why is that there? Jesus' words in scripture when he taught his disciples to pray are all about now don't have that ending about power and glory forever and ever.

Now. Your kingdom come. Now.

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