Remember, remember, remember “We live, not by things, but by the meanings of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords – those meanings – from generation to generation.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
What are those meanings that you have inherited from generations past? What do you hold close and remember from those who are ancestors for you? Who has formed you? Who has ushered you into a broader view of life, of survival, of love, of the world, of God? Another question is: Who has blessed you? Who blessed them? And who blessed that person. And who, then, have you in turn blessed?
What is that is that blessing that has been passed down to you through the generations, reaching you and those whom you in turn bless? Our ancestors in this sense may be the people in our family, and they may not be. Our lives are always shaped by our families of origin, but our families and the communities into which we were born may not always be our only ancestors in the deepest sense, in the sense of the larger community and history and lineage from whom we have inherited the meanings by which we live.
Now there are times when we need to leave a lineage and work out our own soul salvation, come to our own discoveries – that’s very important – but even then I think the deepest discoveries are transmitted from one person to another. Faith is something we catch from each other, we catch on to – or more likely faith is something we are invited. Insight into God, insight into Christ is by its nature something to be shared. It’s something we explore together, help each other out with, learn from those who have come before and then work together to do our part and maybe even evolve a little and hear the new ways that God is still speaking that God is doing something new in our time. The full meaning of it is beyond any of our sight.
The Bible story this morning is about Moses at the end of his life. His life had been this tremendous effort, inspired by God’s revelation to him, to free his people from slavery, and to lead them through years in the wilderness, and to teach them a holy way to live, to live in a good way, true and beautiful, in devotion to God. The promise had always been to reach the promised land. But as it turned out, that promised land wasn’t for Moses himself to enjoy. He left this world as soon as his people reached the brink of their future homeland. That was for the next generation. And the Bible says that the spirit of wisdom blessed a new leader for a new generation.
Holy work is best done as a gift to future generations. It is our inheritance and it is our gift.
In our Christian tradition, I love thinking about the waters of baptism as this river cascading down through the generations. At the head waters is John the Baptizer bringing Jesus down into the water and the curtain to the meaning of Jesus’ life tearing open and the Holy Spirit coming and naming him as God’s beloved and compelling him into his work. And then after Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, Jesus’ disciples baptizing by that same spirit, ushering more and more people into this ever flowing gift of grace, this blessing of belovedness. And that flowing on down the generations, through us and into the future.
So this morning, on this All Saint’s Day, on this Dia de los Muertos I wish to remember and I wish to give thanks to God for all these lineages of blessing whatever they are that have been given to each of you. I wish to give thanks to God for all that we have each received, all we have each inherited, that has helped us grow in our lives, in the meaning of our lives, in our strength to survive, in our ability to live in love, in our understanding of the world and in our journey with the Holy One.
I give thanks to God for all those souls who have animated this sanctuary and the sacred enterprise of this church through its century-and-a-half of life. Last week it was so moving when Dr. Gillespie stood up here and remembered, remembered for us the souls that have inhabited the spaces and the roles that we are now all living out. From the pulpit through the pews he evoked the names and the personalities and the quirks and gifts and lights of those who have come before us, whose praying and playing and grieving and working together here has rendered this space sacred.
I give thanks to God for the lives of those from our faith community who have passed from this world since this season last year.
Let’s pray together: O Holy One, our strength and our redeemer, Giver of life on earth and life beyond death, Thank you for all those dear to us who have passed into Your eternal peace, since this season last year: Thank You, in particular, O God for the lives of
Thank you for the life you gave to them. Thank you for the life you gave through them. May we hold close and keep precious all we have received from them, taking comfort in the knowledge that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor imagination even conceived of the peace that You, O Holy God, have prepared for those who receive and share your Love. Thank You. Thank You. Amen.