Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, November 1, 2015


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Two thoughts for All Saints Day…

My YGLF, Young Gal Lutheran Friend, Rebecca Ninke, who pastors at Brooklyn, WI, has taught her children to tithe their Halloween candy. What a great idea. Surely others do it, too, but I’ve never heard of it or thought of it.

I once preached the memorial service at our annual conference, remembering the clergy and their spouses who had died during the previous year. I told stories about them, and extolled them as those who had told the story. That is always how I think of the saints who are now in that great cloud of witnesses. They were the ones who helped me know I am in the story, by telling me the story, in stories.

A lot of people live by bumper slogans. Guns, Guts, and God-What Made American Great. Guns Save Lives. God said it, I believe it, that settles it. This is the first day of the rest of your life. Remember the Alamo.

Not all the slogans are bad, or wrong, but they are all inadequate. Sometimes a slogan is useful, but anything that tries to reduce the story to a sentence, or a word, leads us astray. Yes, telling the story takes longer, and it is harder work, and it requires us to listen as well as talk, but on this All Saints Day, I give thanks for those saints who took the trouble to tell me the story, and listen as I tried to tell it.

I am filling the pulpit for three months at a tiny church twenty miles away. There is a maximum of 17 people, counting Helen and me. We have no one who plays piano, so we use CDs to accompany our singing. Last night I learned by email that our CD does not have “For all the saints,” even though it is in our hymnal, so I’ll have to lead it acapella. In former days, that would have terrified me. I love to sing, but I have a very limited range. Now, though, I am close enough to being part of that great cloud of witnesses myself that not much scares me, and I’m delighted to have the chance to remind us all that those saints “who from their labors rest” are the ones who told us the story.

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

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