All Saints, November 1, 2008 Abbey Church
I John 3:1-3
Today we are not celebrating people who are holy, we are celebrating a God who is holy and makes holy what belongs to him. We from every nation, tribe, people, and language are claimed by God to be his own, marked by his own blood. Since that blood is human blood, it means that human blood is holy. As the world did not recognize Jesus, it does not recognize his mark on all of us. We should, however; we should see every person as God sees them - as his children.
We are God's children now, but we are still waiting for the time when we will be mature enough to understand what that means. As John tells us this morning: "What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is." Maybe that means that only through understanding God can we understand ourselves. While we are waiting for that to happen, we can respond to God's love for us by living as best we can, which is a part of the process of understanding and becoming more like God, as John puts it: "And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure."
Of course we can not really purify ourselves. God does the purifying, but we are given the choice of allowing God to do that or not. It is a scary choice to make, because it means we have to admit that God knows what is better for us than we do. So we must rely on those who have gone before us to show us that it can be done, even though they were often reluctant to go through the process. We can rely not only on their example, but on their prayers. As we gather around the altar, they are there with us, forever praising God, growing in holiness as we and they grow closer to God.
We are and will be holy, because we belong to God, and belonging to God is the definition of holy. Someday, that holiness will be more evident to ourselves and others around us, as it is already evident to God. Then we will join with the poor in spirit, the gentle, the mournful, the upright, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for the truth, and we will see each other and God as he truly is, because we will be like him. AMEN