Monthly Archives: November 2015

Sermon: Pulling the Thread

Pulling the ThreadMark 13:1-8

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[Intro: Sermon Title change]

Let us Pray…

There is a thread loose. Don’t how how it got loose, but there is a thread loose. It is minuscule, but it is hanging there. A speed bump on the smoothness of the material. It dances when the breeze breathes across it. Waving as the dust mites dance in the ray of the shining sun. the is a thread loose. 

This loose thread started at the first breath of creation. It is wound from the bark of the tree of life. Generation after generation adding to its story. Winding itself on the spinning wheel of the cosmos; as this piece is woven the thread is attached to the shuttle of time and passed over and under the warp of history. It weaves the fist row as the first ones walk through the garden; adding each successive row with each generation. The warp and weft of the material grows heavy as the weight of history begins to leave its mark. Frayed edges; places where neglect skipped a thread; the dinginess of the manufacturing floor; this veil is hung in the high place of the temple. This garment of history is hung between the dwelling place of God and of God’s creation. And there is a thread loose.

I am going to confess that this is not the sermon I was planning on preaching. Once again we are coming face to face with he evil that is in our world. The words of Jesus this morning can not be more appropriate for today, can they?

Every where we turn it seems all that we can see is death and destruction. We see hurting and pain. It is enough to make on sick. And I am sick. I am sick and tired of having to preach these kinds of sermons. I am tired of seeing hate on my Facebook news feed. I am tired of having to shield my daughter’s eyes from the television. I am tired of hearing people spew hatred to an entire religion because of the actions of madmen. I am tired of it. 

I want to be one of those disciples who ask Jesus to tell me when it will all be over. When will the killing end. When will the death end. When will the hatred end. I want to pin him to a wall and make him give me a straight answer. I am sick to death of all of it. Enough is enough.

And then I think about a loose thread.

And soon as that thought appears it is gone. Consumed again by rage. Jesus answers his disciples telling them that there will be many who claim to know the answer saying, “I am he.” He tells the that there will be politicians who claim to be the messiah in the bellicose blathering. They will claim to speak for him when they advocate killing and war. They say they speak for him when the ignore the plight of the refugee and immigrant – in fact they will use them as pawns in their political maneuvering.

The thread is loose.

Jesus warns of wars and rumors of wars. He speaks of terror attacks in Paris leaving hundreds dead. He speaks of bombs in Beirut that will level the cedars of Lebanon – 40 dead and 200 hundred injured. A Baghdad funeral leaves more dead. 

Jesus must be getting tickled by the loose thread because he says that these things must take place. The end is yet to come. What is the end, Jesus? When will all this end? We just wanna know.

There will be more destruction. A heroin addict overdosed 3 blocks form the Church Thursday night, and instead of concern for the person there was the mantra of – one more out of the hood. There was a man murdered by arson 8 blocks away, a man without a home and in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
Nation will rise up against nation, Jesus says. 

There will be earthquakes and famines, Jesus says. 

The thread is loose.

It all makes me want to pull the thread and let it all come falling down. I just want to rip the seam and let all of the horrible happen and just be done with it. 
The thread is loose. Then Jesus says something else. He opens his mouth again, Listening to him – what else can it be? What else is left?

“This is but but the beginning of the birth pangs.” And in 48 hours he, too, is dead. It is the end. 

I stand there looking at his outstretched arms. Nailed to wooden beams. I see him there. And waving in the breeze stuck in the crown upon his head I see a thread. Dancing in the breath of the breeze. 

I hear a scream. The rain starts to pour. I run to that place of safety the temple and there I see it. I see the thread ripping tearing its way down the veil between the Dwelling Place of God and God’s creation. I see through the rip in the veil, as the tread zig-zags its way down, I see light breaking through. Light making its way into the darkness. In that light I see the silhouette of the cross. I see Jesus calling me to lay my weary head on the foot of the cross. I see on the cross all of the tears, I hear all of the cries. At the cross I see God, Fully God – die a fully human death. I see in Jesus, God taking upon God’s self all of it. All of the death. All of the destruction. All of the hate. 

I see myself in the face of Jesus. I see you in the face of Jesus. I see all of your pain. All of your fear. I see all of the darkness that you carry on the cross. And I hear Jesus. Jesus is calling out this is the beginning of new life. This is beginning of the birth pangs of a new creation.

The thread is loose. And in the light now busting through from the dwelling place of God into the place of God’s people I see an unveiling. I see the true glory of God – there on the the cross. I see hundreds of Parisians gathering on the night of a terrorist attack with a giant sign that says “Not Afraid.” I see Baghdadi’s getting married in the face of death. I see the might cedars of Lebanon laying the foundation of a new generation. 

I see the Hebrews dancing across the Red Sea. 

I see Sarah laughing.

I see Mary holing her belly knowing that this day would come.

I see Christians facing the lions.

I see Harriet Tubman conducting the underground railroad. 

I see children holding hand not caring what color they are.

There at the cross I see Christians and Muslims protecting each other as they pray and proclaiming Terrorism Has No Religion. At the cross I hear the words of theologian Fredrich Buechner echoing the words of the angels, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

This is but the beginning of the birth pangs of a new creation. The cross happens to prove that there is nothing to fear. Nothing our God will not do for us. Our God died for us, so that when the terrors come we would know that we are not alone – for even God understands terror. 

The loose thread finally fully unfurled reveals that even in death Our God comes out on the other side. Our God declared victory over the all of the forces that seek to destroy. That doesn’t mean they go away, or that we will never encounter them – no, it means that we don’t have to live in fear of them. We don’t have to live in fear of terrorists, because we know the promise of God. We don’t have to live in fear of the wars and rumors of wars, because we know that the prince of peace will triumph. We don’t have to live in fear of those who look different from us or believe different from us, because we serve a God who died on the cross for all of us. 

The thread is no longer loose, but has been ripped out revealing God’s new and glorious creation. Giving us hope. Giving us perseverance. Giving us the reminder that God’s love for us knows no bounds. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

War can’t keep us from the love of God.

Terror can’t keep us from the love of God.

Addiction can’t keep us from the love of God.

Abuse can’t keep us from the love of God.

Death can’t even keep us from the love of God.

For in all these things we are more than conquerers. Nothing in all of creation can keep us from the love of God. This is the new creation.

Friends, Be not afraid. Trust in the love of God. Trust in that in the cross of Christ – all of the powers of death of destruction came to an end and no longer can control you. Be not afraid. Weep. Cry. Lament. Lean on the cross. But be not afraid. The thread is gone and the veil is torn. You are God’s.

Thanks be to God

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Sermon: The Widow’s Might!

The Widow’s MightMark 12:38-44

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And now a reading from the JAT Version:

As Jesus taught the disciples and those gathered round he said to them, “Beware of the preachers with their toothy grins who walk around saying you will have the best live ever. Watch out for those who always want to sit at the Dias, who hound you form money to buy new planes, those who promise prosperity. They make their livings off the pensions of widows. Yes, they put on a good show, with their upbeat music and long winded prayers. Listen, they just don’t get it. They will receive greater condemnation.”

Then, taking those with him, he sat across from the temple treasury in the court of the women. He sat like a judge watching the crowd giver their offerings. Sure enough, the rich came by and threw their money into the places making lots of noise, so that everyone knew how much they were giving. 

Behind them all comes a widow. And Jesus watches as the put two coins – which equal about a penny – into the plate. You couldn’t ever hear it touch that sides. 

Then he called to his disciples and said to them, “Listen up. Pay attention. This poor widow has put in more than all of the rest. For they all gave a bit of what they had, but she – in her poverty – gave all she had. Everything. She has nothing else to live on.”

Let us pray….
The widow’s mite – m.i.t.e – is what this story is often called. It is another of the flannel graph favorites, right? I still see the white felt back ground with the golden interior of the temple in the middle. Jesus in his white robe with the blue sash sitting off to the side with the disciples. I see the potted palm trees. And I see the woman, humbly dropping her last two coins into what looks like a treasure box. How many of you remember either seeing something similar or even using the flannel graph to tell the story when you taught Sunday School? This is one of the few that I can still see vividly. This, Moses and the Red Sea; Daniel in the Lion’s Den; Sadhrach, Meshach, and Abendigo in the fiery furnace; The Christmas story; the man being let down through the hole in the roof; and the crucifixion. But I remember this story, too.

Partly I thing this story is so memorable because it has been used to tell us, or teach us, how to give sacrificially. It has been used as a tool to make me feel guilty when I didn’t give enough in church or Sunday School; now, I am not saying it was intentional because that is how this story has been used for many years. It is the epitome of the Stewardship sermon – If she can give all she has, why can’t you? Right? How many have experienced that? 

Now, sacrificial giving is important. Giving is important, that is how our ministries survive. That is what make them grow and allows us to the That Church on the Corner. We have been blessed by people who have known this and understood that offering our gifts is part of our call as disciples of Christ. They have given endowments to us that are allowing us to get through these lean times when we are not as big as we once were. Their giving is allowing us to do ministry. Your giving is keeping us open to the neighborhood. Your gifts are what keep the lights on for our art students who come through the doors every Tuesday. Your giving is what sustains the food pantry that feeds our neighbors. Your offerings are what allow our doors to be open seven days a week and allow us to be that church on the corner – open to all who need a place to come and rest from the chaos of the world. Your giving is what lets us be a beacon of God’s Reign, God’s Justice here on the east side. Our offerings, past, present, and future are being used to further the the Reign of God. 

All of that said, though, I don’t think this story is as much about the sacrifice as it is an indictment of the corruption of Government and church and in the end, and most importantly, I understand it to be a testimony of hope.

In our Wednesday morning Bible Study we have been leaning to read the Bible as a whole and in context. We have been working to take it out of isolation, and read the stories we encounter as part of a larger story. One of the reasons the story of the Widow’s mite has become so popular is because it has been read in isolation. As as story in and of itself. When, instead, it should be read as as story with the context of the Gospel of Mark and the Bible as a whole. If we do that, then our perspective of the situation shifts.

Mark is a manifesto of Radical Discipleship. Mark’s Gospel is the story of and for those at the bottom. Jesus is always among the crowds, and not the elite crowds. No Jesus is there with the sick, the destitute, the unclean, the outcast. Jesus, in this telling, is the embodiment of Radical commitment to God and the ways of God. This telling of God’s story from the bottom is in direct contrast the ways of the Greco/Roman order of shame and honor. In this Gospel the last are the first and the first are the last. The call to become a disciple is to empty ones self of that which keeps you from God, and to trust in the ways of God. We have seen this over the last few weeks when we encountered, first the rich man who could not let go of his possessions to follow Jesus, and later in contrast the poor blind beggar Bartimaeus who left all his possessions behind just to be near the healing hand of the Son of Man. 

Understanding that Mark has a message of radical discipleship, then we can begin to hear this story again – new, with fresh ears. 

Prior to this event at the temple, Jesus has had run ins with the church council. He has staged a protest by cleansing the temple of the money changers. He declared that the place of worship is not to be a bank that lends a high profit margins, but is to be a house of prayer for ALL PEOPLE. This challenge to the status quo signed his death warrant. How dare he say that all should have access to God, how dare he upset the status quo, how dare he challenge the church council and demand that the priestly class become like the mere rabble in the court of the gentiles.

On the steps of the temple his authority has been questioned. Surely a man of God would not have such hostility toward the temple. He refused to tell the church council because they refused to see.

He confounded them because he told them that people should pay their taxes to Caesar and to give to God what is God’s. He was angry that they sought test him with this kind of stupidity. 

Jesus defined radical discipleship by telling them that the first commandment is to Love God with one’s whole being and then to love neighbor. Doing those two simple things were what was required to be near the Reign of God. He blew past all of their legalism and rules. He opened wide the access to God and did not have time for their nonsense.

Finally he is with the crowd again, today, at the temple and he has had enough. He finally breaks it all down. He tells the crowd to watch out for these clowns. They are nothing but false teachers. They claim to be righteous. They are like the candidates running for office that say they are for the common person while they are accepting donations from billion dollar corporations. They are like the ones who claim to wear their religion on their sleeves all they while they make policies that demonize the poor, that cut assistance to the needy. They write laws that turn people into statistics instead of flesh and blood. They send drones to bomb villages in the hopes of killing a terrorist; all the while leaving hospitals in ruins. These priests in the temple are making money from their defrauding the widows. Demanding that in order to receive the right kind of care in their old age they sell all of their assets and become totally reliant on the government’s…i mean the priests’ benevolence.

Jesus is standing on the capitol steps calling the leaders of the land frauds. This is the context of today’s reading. This is the world in which this widow lives. She is the lowest of the low in the greco/roman society. She is totally dependent on the goodness of others. She is very example of who the offering is to be helping.

Notice, that Jesus does not praise the widow, he does not hold her up as a paragon of sacrificial giving, rather he names how she is being exploited by the very ones charged with caring for her. She has given everything she has to live on to the temple – the very institution responsible for her wellbeing per the very same scriptures the pharisees build stumbling blocks with. They are worried more about what is going on in peoples’ bedrooms or if they are eating the wrong kind of food. They were too busy talking about building up walls to keep people out; they were too preoccupied with keeping their status with their corporate benefactors. They were engaged in dropping bombs more than they were about feeding the hungry. They were busy preaching prosperity – siphoning more money from the poor; they wanted a new fancy Jet so they said it was God’s will that the widow help pay for it. Jesus sees what is going on and names it. And he is angry.

Sitting on the steps of the temple watching this happen, Jesus is seeing what Amos saw; what Isiah saw; what Jeremiah saw. Jesus is watching as the very ones he identified with were being used as pawns by the powerful. He witnessed the command to care for widow being broken right before his eyes. As a woman she wasn’t even obligated to make an offering. As a poor woman, even less so, and yet she did probably because if she didn’t her well being would have been ignored. You get what you pay for.

Even in the midst of this even, the widow shows her might. I picture her not sheepishly dropping her penny in the offering, but instead I see her proudly, strongly making her way to the box and preciously placing her coins in the plate. I see a woman with a weather worn face, small children at her ankles. I see a woman who knows what is happening – she knows she is being exploited. I see a woman seeing Jesus in the temple. A woman who like blind Bartimaeus gets it. She understands what this man has been preaching. What this Jesus has been proclaiming. I see a widow who has stepped into radical discipleship. I see a mighty widow doing what the rich young man couldn’t. And she is doing this not out of piety or necessity. She is doing this because she has hope in the promises of God. Her story isn’t a moral lesson to be learned or a stewardship sermon to be preached. Her story is a testimony of hope. It is a witness to the promise of God that she would be cared for – that she is worth more than the world says she is. 

The widow’s might comes when she steps into the line of Rahab, the prostitute who opened her doors to the spies of Joshua’s army. Who trusted in the promise that God would liberate and free her from her life of exploitation.

The widow’s might comes when she step into the story of Naomi giving of her self so that Ruth could find security and bear the son that would become the grandfather of David. 

The widow’s might came when she trusted in the promise made by Elijah to the widow of Zarephath that God would provide for her until the new rains fell and her garden would grow again. 

The widow’s might came from hearing the story of how the widowed mother of Peter’s wife was healed from the brink of death by the touch of Jesus; how a 12 year old girl took in a breath of new life; how a bleeding woman was healed by touching the hem of his garment. Her might came from trusting in the promise of God that the way of discipleship leads to the cross, but in that death will come new life. Her might came from watching as Jesus confronted the very people who failed to protect her; from hearing how in the Reign of God the last will be first and the first will be last.

The widow’s might came from trusting that with God she will never be alone. That with God comes the power to survive; the power to fight through another day; the promise of God is that you are never far from the Reign of God.

So, let that be the good news for you this day.Let this story of the mighty widow give you the power to step out from that which is seeking to hurt you. Let her faith in the promise of God give you the faith you need to take a risk in your journey as a believe. Speak out at school when you hear someone being bullied. Make noise when you you see someone being neglected. Take the risk to meet people you might have tried to avoid. Do not be like those on TV who say that I am righteous; no live like the one who is righteous. 

And I promise you, when you do, when you step out like the mighty widow – when you take the chance and embrace the story that is the story of salvation; when you trust in the Lord you will be freed to give fully into the reign of God. You will be able to say – you will be able to live in the words of the 146th Psalm:

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will sing praise all my life long…happy are those whose hope is in the LORD their God who made heave and earth, the sea, and all that is in them;; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. 

The LORD sets the prisoners free; 

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; 

the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down

The Lord loves the righteous

The Lord watches over the stranger; upholds the orphan and the mighty widow, and brings ruin to the wicked.

The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Emerson Avenue Baptist Church, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

Thanks be to God


Sermon : Sacred Tears

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Sacred Tears

Revelation 21:1-6a, John 11:32-44
This morning we celebrate and remember the Feast of All Saints. This is one of the oldest Feast Days in the history of the Church. In the beginning the early church remembered the lives of the martyrs on the anniversary of their earthly deaths, however during the mass persecutions under Roman rule so many were martyred – assassinated anonymously that it was decided that there would be one day in which all of the saints who have died would be remembered. Honored. And this is why today we remember those saints in our lives who have ended their earthly lives and are now living in the promise of the waters of baptism. 

As Protestants, and more specifically Baptists, often the idea of saint is a difficult one for us to wrap our heads around. When we hear the word we often think of statues of St. Francis outside of homes, icons of the Holy Mother Mary. We don’t understand why some in the larger church pray to saints. This difficulty arises because we understand anyone in Christ to be saints. Don’t we? In our tradition we don’t have to be canonized or have investigations into our lives to determine that we are saints, but rather because we are in Christ we are already a saint. So as we celebrate and remember this day those who have gone before us, let us do so in the sure and certain promise that we are among them and they with us in the great cloud of witnesses.

Let us Pray….
Jesus wept. One of the most famous of all verses in the Bible. Mostly because it is the shortest and therefore the first one many kids learn when they are having memorization competitions…at least that is what I did. I needed to remember at least one. I wonder though if it is remembered so widely because it says something so deeply profound about Jesus that consciously or subconsciously it burrows itself into our beings. This is the lord of all, weeping. The son of God, with tears pouring down his cheeks. It doesn’t’ say Jesus wiped away a tear on his face. No it says, Jesus wept. I imagine it being a huge, snot bubble, gasping for breath cry. Not the macho man trying to keep his cool, but rather the soul shattering lament of a man whose heart is broken.
These tears, these sacred tears come about when he arrives at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. We don’t know a whole lot about Lazarus, but we are told that they were close. The relationship between Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and Jesus had to have been an important one because there are two incidents recorded about their friendship in two separate Gospels. They are characters that appear in both Luke and John, something that doesn’t happen except for John the Baptist, Mary, Mary Magdalene, and the disciples. It seems only those intimately associated with Jesus are named let alone mentioned in multiple Gospels. 
Jesus had received word days earlier that his friend was ill. And instead of taking the quick way to Bethany he delayed his travels and eventually Lazarus died. Only the did he make his way to the home of his friends. 
On the dirt road entering the village Jesus is greeted with the ailing of Lazarus’ sister Mary. Like the father running to meet the prodigal son, Mary breaks through the crowds of mourners, through the throngs of family to meet her friend on the road. Falling to her face in the dirt she wraps her arms around the legs of Jesus. Looking at him, her tears turing the dust on her face into mudslides, she cries out, “Lord, you could have saved him. You loved him. If you would have come he would be still living.”
Reaching down to his friend, he helps her up, his heart ripping to shreds, he says nothing for along time. His mind is not thinking, but his heart is crying out – compassion, mercy, frustration, anger, all the emotions fighting each other like a whirlwind in his chest. His throat choking up. He whispers in her hear, trying to keep it together for her sake, “Where have you laid him?”
“Lord, come and see.”
With those words the sacred tears begin flow. He can not hold it in any longer. His tears mix with hers in their embrace. Each one holding the other up. Jesus weeps. Jesus weeps so deeply that those around him grow concerned. They have never seen him like this, even when the news of his cousin, John the Baptizer, death. Jesus is weeping, a soul shattering lament.
The witnesses to this whisper to themselves, “If he was going to react like this which didn’t he save him? He healed the blind. He could have kept him from dying.”
Jesus and Mary amidst their mourning make their way to the tomb, and Jesus feels the doubts and questions of the whispering witnesses. This weeping continues, now with he added emotion of disbelief. How could these people not allow him to grieve the death of his friend? Are not his tears just as healing as making Lazarus well? Are not tears a gateway to the Divine, though which we come into the presence of God? 
Greatly disturbed, still weeping, he tells them to move the stone and open the tomb. “Lord, he’s been dead for four days. His spirit is gone. He has begun to return to dust, his flesh is rotting, and the stench will be too much,” Lazarus’ other sister Martha says to Jesus. Afraid of what might happen, she tries to stop him. She can not see through her tears and into Jesus’ sacred tears.
She is trapped in her grief. He is gone. Lazarus is dead. Her brother will never again tell the slightly naughty jokes around the dining room table. Her brother will never hold the child she may one day have. Her brother will never again wake her in the morning with the cooking of the morning bread. He is gone Her grief is all she feels. True as the grief is, sincere as it is, through her tears that is all she is able to see – unable, yet, to see the sacred tears of the man next to her.
Our tears come in those times when the pain we have can find no other expression. The constant numbness in your legs, the ache in your knees, the kink in your backs. The diagnosis that this suffering will be will you the rest of your life. The tears come when the pain is too much. They are the rising of the pain seeking escape. Like the steam pulsating is way out of a pressure cooker, waiting for the final release. Seeking a resolution they cloud our sight. Leaving us wondering, searching, despairing. They wash over you.
They wash over you when depression and anxiety wrap around us like a boa constrictor squeezing life from its prey. Gasping for air, the light around you begins to fade. Spots of appear, the disappearing of hope. You feel your pulse pounding in your neck, in your head, you feel your heart starting to let go. The grip of anxiety and depression, seeks release in your tears. But you you can’t let them go because it will mean you are weak, your try to hold them in and as you do your breath becomes tighter and tighter.
For some the tears you shed are of shame. Afraid that if you tell your family your secret, that you are in love with someone of your own gender, you are afraid they will throw you out. That they will no longer call you their child. Your tears come because you are not free to be the person your were made to be. Shame, depression, fear form the tears.
Bullies attack you at school or at work. And the long walk home is then only place you can cry. Alone by the side of the road the tears flow.
Others it is the loss of loved ones. You can’t stop the tears flowing when you remember your son, gone long before he should have been. Your unborn child, never tasting the sweet air of this life. Your parents, the rocks of your lives. All of them have left you here alone. In your grief it is like you are having an out of body experience. You don’t even know the person shedding tears.

 
We cry out like Martha, “Jesus, if you would have been her you could have saved him. 
And through her tears, through his tears, she hears, “Did I not tell you if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
Looking toward heave, his arms lifted high, through the gasps in his weeping. His tears breaking down the barrier between heaven and earth, falling to the ground. His tears clearing the way for the pain to escape so that new words may come. New tears may fall, tears not of pain or grief, but tears of release, tears of joy, tears of thanksgiving. Looking toward heaven, through sacred tears, Jesus utters a prayer, “Through these tears, I thank you for having heard me. You always hear me. Let them believe.”
“LAZARUS COME OUT!” Jesus cries. Falling then, to the ground his tears puddling underneath him. Watching as in that fallen salt water a bloom rises, hear hears a din from the crowd, “Look, Look.” They say. He looks up and sees his friend resuscitated and emerging from the tomb. Running to him, not caring what the purity laws say, he says to those following him, “Unbind him and let him go.”
Tears are not something to be ashamed up. Tears are the waters of baptism we carry in us. When they fall, they free us to be closer to God in a way that we can never imagine. They become sacred tears reminding us that we will see the glory of God. Because ours is a faith rooted in the sacredness of tears. Rooted in the the truth of life. Rooted in the promise that one day there will be a time of no more tears. That one day God will make his home among us. That one day all this will pass away and mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Our tears connect us to that promise because we know that Jesus wept. And through is tears he shows the glory of God. 
When the tears come through the pain in your body, your tears are sacred. They are true and they are yours. Your tears are the tears of the one who knew pain. They are the tears of the one who hungered for forty day, they are the tears of the one who felt the nails in his flesh. Your tears are sacred because they are the tears of Christ.
When the depression and anxiety are squeeing the life out of you, your tears are sacred tears. They are the tears of the one who knew loneliness, they are tears of the one who knew betrayal. They are the tears of the one who knows what it is be be abandoned by those he loves. Your tears are sacred because they are the tears of Christ.
When you are afraid. Your tears are sacred because they are the tears of the one who wanted the cup to pass him by. They are the tears of the one who wanted to deny who he way. But they are the tears of the one who was accepted by his Father. They are tears of joy that come with the embrace that says I love you as you are. They are sacred tears because they are the tears of Christ.
When the bullies attack you, you tears are the tears of the one mocked and scorned. 
When you are lost and alone because everyone has left you. Your son, your daughter, your parents, your friends. When their lives on this earth are no more you weep with the very tears that Jesus wept with. You weep with the sacred tears of Christ weeping for his friend.
When you are crying those snot filled sobs that leave no room for words, you are weeping with the one who descended to hell. You are weeping with sacred tears.
And when you weep with sacred tears something happens. Something begins to turn. Something begins to grow. Instead of our tragedy informing our theology our theology informs out tragedy. And we begin to see that our tears, painful as they are, are sacred and they are they very waters that run by the tree of life. We see that our tears, full of sorrow and grief as they are, are sacred tears and are they are waters of the Jordan. We see that our weeping will last the night but joy comes in the morning. We see that our sacred tears are the bearers of new life. The are the irrigation channels of healing and hope. They are the river rolling on and the mighty streams of justice. Our tears are sacred.
They are the tears of Abraham making his way up the mountain with Isaac bound turned to joy when the angel of the Lord stopped his knife wielding hand.
They are tears that rolled down the cheeks of the beaten and bloodied Joseph and they turned into tears of reconciliation and forgiveness as he beholds his brothers – lost but now found.
They are the sacred tears of a weeping Naomi turned into tears of love when Ruth says I will stay with you.
they are the tears of Job, sitting on the ash heap, turned into tears of understanding when God is revealed in the whirlwind.
Pouring off the face of the prophet Jeremiah, his shed his sacred tears proclaiming the justice of the living God.
Elizabeth’s tears of sorrow for never being able to conceive a child were a sacred prayer and were transformed into tears Joy at kicking of John in her belly.
Mary, hearing the news of the angel, shed sacred tears – tears that would flow the rest of her life.
They are the tears of Jesus. Jesus who knows the pain and hurting. The illness and anxiety. Jesus how feels loss and desires understanding. They are the tears of God with us.
And our faith in that God promises that there will be a time when these sacred tears will run no more. Their flow will cease. Because we will be in the presence, we will be in the very presence of God. Our faith says that while our tears on earth may flow it is only for a time. Our faith is the faith that knows this present darkness but looks forward to what will be. Looks forward to what will be because we get to touch it now. We are the body of Christ. When we shed our sacred tears we are the body of Christ – touching that space where heaven and earth meet. We are the body of Christ on Calvary ready for that great resurrection day. We are the body of Christ so loved that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Our sacred tears are that reminder. 
Our sacred tears remind us that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nether the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither heights nor depths; nor anything in all of creation will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in our Lord Christ Jesus. Jesus who wept with sacred tears.
And this is why we celebrate this feast of All Saints. We celebrate to remember those we love. We celebrate to give thanks for lives lived. We celebrate to shed our sacred tears and be reminded that we are a part of something greater. We are the inheritors of a promise that is beyond our imagining. We celebrate because God is faithful to God’s promises. We celebrate because God’s story doesn’t end at the grave it goes on for ever and we are here and now a part of that forever. So, go from here today unafraid. Be in touch with the world. Let it touch your soul. Let it break your heart. Let us make you angry. Let us show you joy. Let it lift you up. Go unafraid to cry. Unafraid to weep. Go from this place with sacred tears and watch them reap new life where ever they fall. 

Thanks be to God.