Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us
St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel St. At W. 14th Ave.

Vancouver, BC, V5Z 3T3


Phone: 604-877-1789

E-mail: office@stmarymags.ca

Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 am - 1 pm

Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us

Worship Times

Sunday Eucharist

10:30 am


Contemplative

Eucharist

Wednesday 7:00 pm


Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

November 4th All Saints Day,  2018      John Marsh


Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44




The gods by any other name would be as pernicious!


In the age of ‘Pax Romana’, when the role of the gods was clear and citizenship, with its rights and responsibilities, was understood and almost universally sought, the way of the Christ was considered irreligious – an expression of atheism neither seeking nor following the civilized ways of the gods…


It was another worldview…


It was an alternative way – little understood and seldom expressed…


If it was true then, it is true now – perhaps even more so…


For today the way of the Human One is also little understood and seldom expressed…


Today, in the era of Pax Americana or perhaps, more accurately, the era of ‘corporate global gods’, it is the idealized promise of ‘the market’ that attracts interest, shapes world views and commands a loyalty bordering on religious fervour…


Today, the ‘gods’ project the promise of unfettered capital to generate, package and provide ‘services’ to meet the individualized ‘needs’ of modern consumers…


Here, broadly speaking, spirituality serves individualized, interiorized and privatized goals generated by the consumptive gods…remember be all that you can be – don’t worry be happy!


Here the message of the Human One is little heard and few are those on the way of the Christ…


Here the message of socially engaged justice and compassion is often considered irrational (read irreligious); here the socio-political message of the common good, of the centrality of local over global narratives, of mutual interdependence and the need for sustainable lifestyles strikes many as nonsense at best and madness at worst (read atheist) …


In the past, Pax Romana proclaimed Peace through Victory1; today, the religious orientation (or ‘spiritual’ orientation if that makes you feel better) of the ‘corporate global gods’ proclaims Peace through Consumption


In this contemporary ‘religious’ worldview ‘All Saints’ - if it means anything at all - means little more than ‘you in your little world and I in mine’ and being a ‘saint’ means living well in your world while others are left alone to live well in theirs - unless, of course, you make a date to ‘connect’ for a time: a play date, a lunch date, a work date…ahh yes, relationships by the drop!


But, if we’re to be honest, life lived in isolation or life by the drop is a fool’s game - life is simply too messy to be so contained – it leaks out the bottom; it smudges carefully drawn lines; it finds itself drawn into odd situations; it is bemused or confused by strange yearnings; it feels lost and alone, desiring a depth it cannot name yet is unable to ignore; it senses the onslaught of death in its various guises and reacts…


In truth, we’ve all built our houses on sand, all of our lives are lived under threat and yet, perhaps paradoxically, it is here, in this context that hope lives, that faith is expressed and that love lures…


It’s here that impossible possibilities beckon and god’s alternative reign surfaces…


As the theologian William Stringfellow (who by the way was a lawyer by profession, an activist by vocation, a theologian by avocation – in other words, not ordained) has said:


In truth, all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and realize that the only way to honour such a gift is to give it away.


Of course, what does it mean to be fully human and then to give it away?


(By the way – this is a profoundly religious question!)


Admittedly, we come from religious traditions that are flawed, occasionally in conception, more usually in execution; we have often participated in ‘the dance of death’ - sometimes we have bound others in the wrappings of death, sometimes we have allowed ourselves to be so bound…


Nevertheless, we participate in traditions that value living in right relations one to another. For most of our history we have received a wisdom that teaches that we are our brother’s/our sister’s keeper.


We are the inheritors of religious traditions that call us to participate in the unbinding of those who have ‘died’; we are to care for and forgive one another; we are to respect each other’s lives and livelihoods. We espouse religious traditions that hold ideals of justice and well being, of hospitality and welcome, of hope and healing. As much as we have been bound up, we know that we are called ‘to unbind’…


These are our religious values – ever difficult to define and yet we often know when we live in sync with them. They are values which frame the holy and our hopes for humanity, values that ground the meaning of ‘saint’.


As religious values they are communal values in so far as they affirm that we live one to another - whether we like it or not we’re in this together.


As communal values they are values that are pre-eminently social, economic and political and hence profoundly religious…


As human beings we are not privatised, individualized consumptive units – at least, not if we wish to live fully human lives - we are social creatures who find meaning in serving the common good; creatures who, perhaps paradoxically, find our unique identity in service to others, in giving ourselves away…


Perhaps, ‘saints’ – religious or otherwise – are those irrepressible, impossible advocates of everything which differs from established, unquestioned codes…


Or, once again, as William Stringfellow said:


In truth, all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and realize that the only way to honour such a gift is to give it away.


To give it away, now there’s a thought - living one to another, sharing our humanity in ever more profound ways, discerning traces of god and honouring call…


And, if needs to said, there are hundreds of ways to give your life away…

Sermon