“I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:15-17)
These words are from Jesus’ prayer that he prayed for his disciples right before his own arrest, persecution and death. I often go back to the prayer in John 17. We live in the world, yet as the followers of Jesus’ Way, we are not of the world. And I feel, I know, that Jesus prays for me too as I do my best to follow him, that he is with me. As followers of Christ our job is to follow him. He is the master, not us. We stay the course set out by Christ. We do it by practicing forgiveness, unconditional love, and radical hospitality just as Jesus would have us do. We lay a brick at time. The future belongs to God.
On November 1 we celebrate All Saints Day. Bring to the worship service photos of the “saints” gone before you in your life. Let us come with grateful hearts that we are who we are because of these people who loved us and showed us the way in their own ways. We are not alone in the world. In living and in dying we belong to God and to each other.
One of the saints in my faith journey is Archbishop of Oscar Romero of El Salvador who was beatified by Pope Francis earlier in May of this year. He had been assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass. I think about the following words of his as we prepare to celebrate Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday later in the month on November 22:
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No program accomplishes its mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about. We plan the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. AMEN.”