Saturday, November 2, 2013

Broken Wine Glasses

I hope that I will be forgiven for offering only a few observations about tomorrow's gospel.  It has been one of those weeks where what needed to be done seemed to overwhelm the actual hours available.  I hope that you will visit 'Working Preacher'.  It is a helpful site.

Click here to hear the Sermon as it was actually preached at the 10.00 a.m. Eucharist on Sunday the 3rd of November.

All Saints Sunday
3 November 2013

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Focus text:  Luke 6.20-31

1)  Richard Swanson offers some helpful observations about today’s gospel. [1]

a)  He begins by making reference to Tevye’s comment in The Fiddler on the Roof that it is no disgrace to be poor but it is no great honour either.

b)  He then turns to the Greek word for ‘poor people’ used in today’s gospel:  ptochoi.  He then explores the opening sound ‘pt’ and the words in Greek that begin with this unusual combination of consonants.

i)  A fair number of words that begin with ‘pt’ have something to do with wings or feathers.  Perhaps the Greeks thought of poor people, especially the flocks of beggars in many towns and cities as resembling pigeons scrambling about to find crumbs.

ii)  Another group of words that begin with ‘pt’ are ones that describe sudden fright and flight.  How many poor people are ready to flee at the first sign of the authorities?  How many working poor are aware of how fragile their employment situations are and how quickly they may be sent packing if their employers find even cheaper ways of producing goods and providing services?

iii)  Yet another group of ‘pt’ words express that sense of vertigo in the face of falling, that dizziness that sometimes overcomes us as we look down from a great height.  Swanson ponders how the life of the poor is often a tightrope act where many are only one accident or serious illness away from unemployment and disaster.

iv)  The final word is the most telling:  ptuo.  Listen to the sound --- ‘ptuo’!  It means ‘I am spitting’.  How many of the poor know this sound far too well?

II)  Today as we gather together to remember all the saints and all the faithful departed, it is fitting that we remember that poverty is a real, concrete experience for millions of people, here in Canada and elsewhere throughout the world.  

a)  The saints whom we remember, the faithful departed whose lives have shaped ours, have often been those who have worked for real change in the lives of the poor.

b)  In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes Jesus does not speak of the ‘poor in spirit’ but those who are poor economically and socially.  The woes that Jesus speaks are not directed to all those who are economically and socially secure, but to those who are and yet remind blind to the needs of others. 

c)  In Jewish weddings it is customary, even at such a time of joy, to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by smashing a wine glass.  Those who are the objects of Jesus’ criticism are those who forget in their time of plenty and comfort that there are many who are not. 

III)  Today at Saint Faith’s we are celebrating the conclusion of our fall financial campaign.  It is a campaign that has had as its theme, ‘I sing a song of the saints of God’.  We have remembered many saints who have shaped our lives and the life of this Parish.

a)  As we come to this ending, let us not forget one of the reasons for our existence as a Parish.

b)  We exist to give hope to those who have lost hope, to give assistance to those who are in need and, most importantly, to offer a home to those who are homeless.

c)  This is not a vocation from which this Parish has shirked.

i)  When the National Church came asking for our support for the Reconciliation Fund, we gave more than we were asked to give.

ii)  We have been constant in our support of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

iii)  Our designated outreach funds have touched the lives of children suffering from violence, young aboriginal women seeking a new start in life, seniors who are struggling --- the list goes on and on.

iv)  We have been steady in our commitment to the development and work of the Pastoral Resource Centre.

d)  All of these are sources of joy, but we must never lose sight of the broken wine glass beneath our feet that reminds us that we have not yet reached the kingdom of God.

IV)  In the meantime, the ‘already but not yet’ of God’s promised reign of justice and peace, let us continue to sing a song of the saints of God, let us be bold enough to hope that our names join those of every generation, known and unknown, in whom the love of God, the life of Christ and the wisdom of the Spirit have been revealed.  Amen.

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