We Remember Them

November 1, 2020

Series: November 2020

Speaker: Rob McClellan

Today's Scripture

Revelation 7:9-17

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

     “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing,

     “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom

     and thanksgiving and honor

     and power and might

     be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,

     and worship him day and night within his temple,

     and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.

16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;

     the sun will not strike them,

     nor any scorching heat;

17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,

     and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,

     and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Second Reading

 Gospel Matthew 5:1-12

1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. .

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Today's Teaching

We Remember Them

            Sometimes when people leave us, they are still with us, whether they come to us in our dreams or visions, or we just sense them with us.  Other times they truly feel gone, and sometimes it’s both.  Whatever the case, it is important to remember the dead.  Think of how strange it is to move through the world with someone and then for them to die and us to just go about our business not only as if they aren’t there but as if they never were.  It’s tempting to distract ourselves out of fear we’ll be swallowed up by the grief, but in fact, oftentimes when we sit and remember, what comes to us is fondness.  Sometimes what comes to us is needed healing or resolution.  Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “blessed are those who mourn,” as he did in the Beatitudes.  Mourning is a sacred activity and it doesn’t have to be dour, though it can be.

            That’s what today is for.  We’ve asked you to come with pictures of those who’ve died.  They could be physical pictures, or maybe pictures on a device, or even picture’s in your mind’s eye.  If you didn’t grab them, you can do so now.  It’s nice to have them out.  Maybe have them out all day as company.  

            The book of Revelation is a vision for a healing of all things, the making right of all things at a time when a lot was wrong.  It was about a particular time, and yet it has a way of speaking to all time as we know it.  In this vision hunger is no more, thirst no more, scorching from the sun no more, and tears, the tears of grief will be no more because death will be no more.  We hold onto that promise as we live in a world that is marked by death.

            We will do two commemorations today.  The first is for those lost to COVID-19 this year.  We just haven’t had the kind of public mourning I think would have been helpful.  We are at about 240,000 deaths in the United States.  I saw just this morning a colleague on the East Coast mention she was going to ring their church bell for every 1,000 deaths, 230 times.  She mentioned if she did it for every death it would take 155 hours.  Now globally, we’re at about 1.2 million deaths – we don’t need to mourn by nationality.  So I will toll a bell 12 times, one for every hundred thousand lost.  As I do, let us pray for all those affected by this disease and for those who labor to keep us safe…

            And now, let us for our second remembrance, honor those lost to each of us, perhaps even those we are presently losing but haven’t entirely left us yet.  Grief doesn’t know hard stops and starts.  If you have a picture of someone would you hold it up?  Would anyone like to tell us who they are holding up? (allow for sharing)

            May I pray for you?  Holy One from whom all things come and to whom all things go and through whom all things flow, we ask your balm this day for the wounds of our grief. We give you thanks for the lives of loved ones who brought us joy.  We recognize the pain caused by some, some of which is unresolved.  We pray for those hurting in our midst.  Let our ache be a reminder of the gift of this life, and a remnant of the strength of our love, and a sign of your love for us seen in the death of Jesus the Christ, through whom you joined us in every way.  Let us know trust in the promise of the resurrection through which we are forever and always joined to you.  Amen.

Quotes, Questions & Prompts for Reflection, Discussion, and Prayer

 1. Who have you lost that has had a lasting impact on you?

2. Where is there need for collective mourning right now?

3. How will you honor the dead today?

4. What is a saint to you?

5. Who is a saint in your life/the life of the world? Have you told them?

6. What about you is saintly?