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Remembering the Saints

This is All Saints Sunday (week). All Saints is a time to remember those who have gone before us. We will remember the Biblical Saints who walked and lived by faith. In our church we also remember members of Shalimar United Methodist who have gone on to their Heavenly reward this year. On the front of the Beacon, you will find the names of members
of our congregation who passed away this year. It is good that we take a weekend to remember and give thanks to our precious loved ones.

Our scripture today Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us … “we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.” No this is not a storage cloud (as Brian Dale said) for our documents or a “pie in the sky” cloud but rather an unlimited and infinite space for our spiritual connection with those before us, now, and those in the future! The writer of Hebrews filed chapter 11 for our
benefit. And no this is not to rid us of being spiritually bankrupt but to the contrary the most gifted writing of the Bible of lifting up those who … “lived and walked by faith.”

Hebrews tells us… “Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) So many spiritual giants are commended…Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and others. The writer says their faith “conquered kingdoms, brought justice, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of flames, escaped the sword, became powerful in battle, and dead were raised to life again.” Faith is not easy… “some faced jeers, flogging, chains, and imprisonment”… “some were stoned, sawed in two, and killed by the sword.” One of my favorite passages in this book is Hebrews 11:6… “without faith it is impossible to please God.” We as human beings like
control, we like guarantees, we like things now…but the Bible is clear only God controls, delivers, and holds the keys to time! We learn from the giants of the Bible and we are inspired to live and walk by faith. 

Another dimension of All Saints is remembering those who have passed away this last year from our congregation. As the late, J. Lamar Brown, a former pastor of Shalimar, used to say opening celebration services… “we transfer the membership of the loved one from Shalimar UMC into the Kingdom of God.” One of the joys I have had in the last few years at Shalimar UMC is renewing relationships of the 1980’s. My breath has been taken away with the number of those saints who I have shared in their celebration of life services. We have had so many wonderful disciples through the years at Shalimar UMC. All our Saints will be missed, and we will feel a loss, but our hope ultimately is we all will be in communion again in Heaven!

Thanks be to God for all the Saints who have gone on to be with the Lord this year. May we take time to live more fully as we remember them!

Shalom,
Philip

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