11/3/02, All Saints Sunday

“Now and Then”
I John 3: 1-3

here's just something about us that makes us want to be in control of everything. Especially men, according to women, want to run things, manipulate situations, and other people, especially women. Women also can excel in deviousness, I have heard.

Only lovers are willing to give up control to others. Maybe that's how we know we are in love with that special someone--- that one person that we will spend the rest of our lives with. Young lovers are always asking that question: "When do we really know that we are truly in love?" Perhaps it is when we submit. Just maybe it's when we are willing to go to a movie that is his, or her choice, and not try to trick them into doing our thing. In that process of mutual surrender we find joy in acquiescence to another. As in, "Where shall we go out to dinner this Friday night, dear?" Knowing full well that she loves seafood and you prefer steak. You suggest, "How about Parks Seafood?" "No," she says, "I'm in the mood for Longhorn steak." So, you go to Longhorn and she orders the shrimp. That's true love!

That's got to be how it is in our love affair with the Divine. We know that we must submit to the Almighty; but, sometimes we forget that He has already submitted to us and woos us back through a continual ceding of His authority over us. He's like a Daddy that gives you the keys to his car knowing full well that you might wreck it in some miscalculation of a hairpin curve, or a random act of senseless accident. The Father doesn't try to keep us at home. "O, stay here safe and watch 'I Love Lucy!"

My Daddy helped me purchase an old Dodge when I was 15 years old but would not let me drive it, without him in the passenger seat, until my 16th birthday. He drove me to the licensing examiner's office early on a school day and after passing the test I drove him home, and then back to high school I drove alone for the first time, with a parental late excuse in my pocket. Later, when I gave my heart to my Heavenly Father, my Dad was the first one I phoned long distance; and we cried together.

Our text tells us that this is the situation we are in. "We are God's children now." Although we have rebelled, kicked against the restraints, done it our way and the wrong way, we have now come to a position of being able to finally submit to the Father. This happened the moment we realized that He had already showed His great love for us in that even though we were bratty kids, He loved us and gave "His only Son," for us.

The twenty-five names that we read from our list of "Honored Dead" each became a saint as a result of walking down their own path that led to friendship with God. Their unique joy for living, their individual personality, their love for their families and their friends was made possible because of their ceding control of their ultimate destiny to God Almighty. In this life they were the Father's dear children. They lived their lives seeking His will and attempting to fulfill His plan, as He gave them Grace. Many of you are Christians because these Saints nudged you toward that choice. Some of these spouses, parents and friends may have been a Christ figure in your life. They made you want to be a better person. They ennobled you to become a worthy role model of a Christian.

We believe that these beloved Saints are in heaven. But, our sometimes haunting question is: "Will we see them again?" God's answer is, "Yes!" Yet, that's about all He specifically says. Our text says, "We are God's children now; but what we will be then has not yet been revealed." Or, as the familiar Pauline passage from First Corinthians 13: 12 tells us: "Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now." (NLT) We hope and trust Him now. Then we will understand. Heaven is outside of anything we are now able to perceive and comprehend. If God tried to explain it, we could not get it.

A major part of our yielding to God is submission to His higher power. As in every session of every Twelve Step meeting everyone present has to stand and say that they have submitted to the Higher Power, so do we when we pray. No matter how far down the road of faith development that we have come we need to keep confessing our sin each time we pray and re-submit to God who holds our future in His hands.

The Good News is that we are safe in His keeping, and that we will one day be safe in His presence. We believe that with all of our hearts, don't we? Many of us first learned it when our mothers knelt with us beside our beds and prayed, "Here I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." Theology doesn't get much better than that! It is especially meaningful when we get to the stage in life when our mothers and fathers are already in "the taking place," waiting for us.

Some might be asking ourselves, "Could it be that our spiritual lives have been based on lies?" Or, "Could it all be just made up as a kind of soothing false security to lull us along and to soothe our feeble minds?" "Did somebody back a long time ago invent a cruel hoax that the masses have kept bought into?"

Deep down in my soul, I know that what I have been taught, and what I have come to believe, and what I base my assurance of heaven on, is all true, because of the very fact that so great a group of Saints have believed it. "You might fool some of the people some of the time" but the great Saints of history could not have been fooled. Thousands of years of witnesses have said it was so. The Spirit has written it on our hearts that it is true. It has proven to be true thus far in life and has never failed us. And, best of all, we have a foretaste of heaven in our souls already, don't we!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

11/3/02, All Saints Sunday