A Sermon Preached by the Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch
What a night it is! Tonight we celebrate the great feast of All Saints, the commissioning of Rev. Kristin’s and my ministry with you, and, most important, the baptism of Joe Apodoca and Makaiya Chavez as we welcome them into the Communion of Saints. What a night!
Tonight Joe’s and Makaiya’s parents and godparents will make promises on their behalf and they will also make promises to them. And so will we.
Tonight Rev. Kristin and I will make promises to you and you to us.
Tonight we will all make promises to God and to one another.
I think that all together we will say “I will” or “we will” or “I do” over three hundred times if you count each of our “I will’s” or “we will’s” or “I do’s” separately.
It makes sense to ask, “What are we committing to?”
You might say we are committing to being part of the communion of saints.
Or you could say we are committing to help one another be part of the communion of saints for the promises we make to Makaiya and Joe are promises we make to one another as well.
Tonight I will ask you, “Will you do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?”
When you answer “We will”, we all are promising to help them and, by extension, you and me live into our Baptismal Covenant.
This journey we commit to, this path we follow, is not a solitary journey. Following Jesus is something we do in community. It takes a village to raise a Christian.
Think back on your own journey. Remember the saints who showed you the way. The people who in one way or another taught you what it means to be a saint in the communion of saints. People who in the words of William Stringfellow, “relish life as a gift and realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.” People who roll up their sleeves and reach into the muck of life where needs are deep and the way often unclear. Beatitude people I call them—people who know how to weep and mourn and call for justice; people whose hearts are pure; people who find the ties that connect and the words that diffuse.
Remember, too, the saints who taught you what it means to be a beloved child of God—people who knew you, really knew you; people who had time for you; people who delighted in you and knew how to show it; people who loved you not in spite of but because of who you are—warts and all.
And remember those saints who stretched you and challenged you to live into your best self just by being who they were. When I think of those saints, I’m reminded of two people from this very congregation—a couple who really lived their baptismal vows—especially the one about respecting the dignity of every human being. Imagine—they didn’t even get short or curt or impatient with those sales calls that come at dinner time. They listened to the pitch; said “thank you”; and didn’t even make a face afterwards. That’s respecting the dignity of every human being!
African Americans often say we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. All of us here stand on the shoulders of saints. It’s our turn to provide those shoulders for Makaiya and Joe and one another as well. That’s what community—communion—is all about.
Shall we gather at the font where we will baptize Makaiya and Joe and welcome them into the Communion of Saints?