The Rev. Cynthia K.R. Banks–The Sunday after All Saints’ Day—Year C video
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
So, there is a lot going on today! It’s the Sunday after All Saints’ Day; it’s the Sunday before the election; it’s Connor’s baptism; and it’s the Sunday after the Cubs won the World Series ending a 108-year run without a title. And I think all of these are connected.
I’ve gotta start with the Cubs. Baseball is not really a sport I follow; I’m not a diehard fan of any particular club, but this year, I, and a good part of the country, were Cubs fans. The Cubs, the underdog of underdogs, and for those fans who’ve followed the Cubs always, an icon of perseverance and the power of hope that refuses to stop longing for the dream. And then, to be down 3-1. And then to come down to game 7. It was just irresistible.
Well, I happened to be in Chicago on Wednesday night for a continuing education event. We finished our work in time to tune in to the game about the 6th inning. The Cubs were ahead, and then the Indians tied the game. When the Indians came even, it seemed to take all the air out of the Cubs’ sails, and then, just as they headed for extra innings, the rains came down, the tarp came out, and there was that 17-minute rain delay. The next day, we actually spent some time in my group reflecting theologically on what that rain delay made possible—the unintended, undesired pause that opens a space for a reset that can renew us and set us on a new path. Yes, I was with an incredibly theologically geeky group.
But the Cubs came out of that rain delay and took care of business. I will tell you that the city was eerily quiet through those last innings. You could see TV’s flickering in the windows in the skyscrapers all around us. And even after the Cubs won, it was so quiet—I think the city was stunned—it had really happened and they couldn’t believe it. And then, the horns started and the shouts of joy rose up as people poured into the streets, and those horns went on and on and on for hours. But that wasn’t even the coolest part.
The next day there was this story on NPR about veteran Cubs fans, older Cubs fans—exuberant grandmas and grandpas—80, 90, 100 years old—who had waited for this day forever. Fans wrote the names of Cubs fans departed this life on the walls of Wrigley Field. One man took a radio out to the cemetery where his dad was buried and listened to the game there just to share it with his father.
Could we get a better image of the communion of saints???
Cubs fans know in their hearts that the love of their team and the love of those who never gave up hope on that team transcends time and space, transcends the realms, just as love always does. We are made to believe and trust in the communion of saints, and most of the time, we don’t live in awareness of this great communion we share, but then a moment comes—maybe it’s a moment of great joy, maybe it’s a moment of great sorrow, maybe it’s a moment of fear or loss or bewilderment, maybe it’s just an ordinary moment—but a moment comes that cracks the veil between here and there, and we are overwhelmed with how connected we really are.
Connor, you may or may not be a Cubs fan, but today, we celebrate that you are knit into this great, mystical communion of saints. You are woven into the fabric of this great big story that spans the generations across time and space. You have a place in this grand body, here at St. Luke’s, and in the Body of Christ that spans every tribe and language and people and nation and even the cosmos. And being woven into this body will give you everything you need to be able to move through suffering and loss and struggle, and yes, to discover that resurrection always awaits on the other side. In your short life, you’ve already had your share of suffering and a taste of the power of this community pulling for you, praying for you, celebrating every ounce of your life.
Being woven into this body gives you a framework, a set of guideposts to live by that will help you navigate the world and keep your feet firmly planted on the way that leads to abundant life. Connor, you give us such a gift today! Because of your baptism, we get to make these promises again, and what a gift to do this the Sunday before Election Day!
- Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
- Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
- Will you proclaim in word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
- Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
- Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Five vows that stake out for us what it means to follow Jesus. As Bishop José reminded our diocese this week, these are the criteria by which we must discern as we cast our votes. We don’t have the luxury of separating out our civic responsibility to vote from our religious faith from our spiritual practice. The Word became flesh and lived among us—there is no part of our life to which Jesus does not have a claim, and his claim on us comes before any other affiliation.
Oh Connor, you’re going to find that this life is hard and daunting and oh so lifegiving; it is full of wonder and full of adventure; it is bigger and broader and deeper than you can possibly imagine. These vows and the life they make possible, THIS is a big enough container to hold whatever will unfold in the world or in your life.
And that’s why I’m so very glad that you are a living icon today of these promises we make together and the power of this Body, this Communion, in whom we all are knit together. There is so much fear about what will unfold this coming Tuesday, and it doesn’t matter from which side you look out. I’ve never seen our country so polarized. For many, Tuesday will be the apocalyptic end of the world as we know it. But in the big, big picture, the world as we know it is always dying, and always being born anew.
Remember dear brothers and sisters, no matter what happens, we are knit into a bigger story, a story of dying and rising, a story of the neverending flow of love, a story of stumbles and falls and getting back up again, a story of unfathomable courage that can look at that which is rent asunder and see a call to reach out in the power of the reconciling love of Jesus.
We may get to learn just how deep our vows run. We may get to learn, really learn, what it means to believe that there really is ONE Body and ONE Spirit. We may get to learn all over again what it means to heal a Roman soldier’s child and dine at a Pharisee’s house and bring a woman bent over to the center of the circle and to understand the plight of a Samaritan. When Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross, there were no boundaries on that love. I don’t know how far Tuesday may stretch us, but no matter what happens, we’re going to have to take our cues from Jesus and these vows that keep us aligned with his way.
Connor, today you remind us that what we do today is bigger than whatever might come. So fear not, little guy, this community has you; the communion of saints has you, the Body of Christ has you, the God of all that is has you. You are knit into this mystical sweet communion, and, as Paul reminds us: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from that love of God made known in Christ Jesus.”
Connor, the ground is firm, the fabric is strong, and the threads of God’s love that wrap around you this day will never let you go. Amen.
The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
November 6, 2016