A Feast for All Peoples Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
November 1, 2015 Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost,
All Saints Day
Psalms 23 & 84; Isaiah 25:6-9; Mark 12:28-34
At the end of this sermon we will be singing a hymn based on Psalm 84. Here are the words of the hymn written by the poet Jean Janzen:
How lovely is your dwelling,
O God, my hope and strength,
My spirit longs for shelter,
my flesh cries out for home,
where even swallows nesting
beside your altar resting
are ever praising you.
How blessed are those whose travels
are strengthened by your hand,
who pass through shadowed valleys
and find refreshing springs.
Your rain falls soft as kindness
on all your faithful pilgrims
until they come to you.
Look on me, God of goodness,
you are my sun and shield.
One day within your household
is what I most desire.
O guide me in your mercy
along my lonely pathway;
O bring me safely home.
All Saints Day is a day of celebration, but also of longing and missing, as we think of people we have loved who have died or left home or left our church.
Sometimes I have dreams about my boyhood home in Ohio. My parents are both alive in the dream, and my brothers are all there. Often it is Christmas, or another family feast. It feels so warm and secure, a lovely dwelling, and when I wake I miss it so much. My flesh cries out for home, as the hymn says. I feel like a pilgrim passing through shadowed valleys. One day within that household is what I most desire, but no matter how far I travel on my lonely pathway, I will never again arrive in that beloved home.
The sadness of all that passes away can feel almost unbearable, and it would be, if not for the other part of the hymn that answers our lonely longing by singing of our home in God.
Continue reading Sermon, November 1, 2015