With Baptism and Servant Year Commissioning
“But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for
ever—for ever and ever” –Daniel 7:18
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. Today we remember that we, all of humanity, are one. We remember that this is the story that Jesus told. And that this is an indispensible piece of the Gospel. But we also must remember that there are other stories; stories to which we and our global culture cling to, even today.
The power of a story is one that is often overlooked. We assume stories to be pieces of fiction, which do not form the basis for people’s ideas and worldviews. But do they? It is interesting that we as Christians might have forgotten the power of story when we have a storyteller for a Savior. As the lyricist Richard Wolfson reminds us,
“Jesus was the storytelling kind. He painted pictures in the mind. It was how he showed people like
you and me, the way things were supposed to be. He used the sky He used the sea He used the birds
He used the trees He used whatever he could see. Storyteller? Yes! Jesus was the storytelling kind;
he painted pictures in the mind. It was how he showed people like you and me the way things were
supposed to be.”
Stories, all stories, are immensely powerful, for they do create pictures in our minds. They shape and shade the way we look at the world, and at each other.
Nigerian author Chim-amanda Aditchi-e warns against the danger of a single story. In her 2009 TED Talk she explores the power which story has in our lives today, and how we too easily allow a single story to shape our view of people. She reveals that to “show a people as one thing, and only one thing, over and over again and that is what they become.”
“Show a people as one thing, and only one thing, over and over again and that is what they become.”
In our Gospel today we find Jesus telling his disciples, and telling us still today, to beware the single story. Beware the single story that separates you from any other. Beware the single story that considers you blessed and others not. Beware the single story that says this is the way it will always be. Beware the single
story that keeps you from reaching forth in love. Beware the single story that considers only your own interests and not those of others. And beware the single story that keeps your community from being the dynamic instrument of God’s love to all people.
Jesus challenged his listeners to shake their single stories about the poor and the rich, the hungry and the full, the laughing and the weeping, the beloved and the hated. He challenged his listeners to see even their persecutors in a way other than the single story of hatred and loathing. You see for the single stories we create hurt rather than heal. Separate rather than unite. And offer hostility rather than peace.
Unfortunately, we live in a society rife with single stories, and we as human beings have attempted to become the Master Storyteller. We each have experienced the hurt of a single story. Whether it is because of color of our skin, our gender, our body type, our career, our neighborhood, or the people we love, there exists a single story for each of us. People attempt to say one thing and only that one thing over and over again until it is what we become to them. Sisters and Brothers, lest we go about pointing fingers we must admit that we too are guilty of creating single stories. We use them in an ill-fated attempted to make sense of the world. We too like to play at being the Master Storyteller. It needn’t be about an entire group of people, but that one person whom we find most difficult to love. We tell ourselves, and perhaps even others, that they are but one thing and only one thing in hopes that that will be what they are.
But the Good News is that we are not the Master Storyteller. But we know who is. We know a God who has throughout history revealed a single story: The Single Story. This is a more powerful story, The Single Story, which sets us free, that brings peace that brings about the Kingdom of God. The story that all of humanity is
one. That we each bear a unique image of God. And together we make known the diversity of God. The vast Eternal Mystery which assures us each and every one that we are beloved and we are one.
As we celebrate and remember the Solemnity of All Saints, we recall all those men and women who have gone before, who live among us today, and who will come after us. We remember them as they live The Single Story of the Master Storyteller. They challenge their communities to be more inviting. They challenge their leaders to be more just. They challenge themselves to put the needs of others first. And their lives and witness challenge us all to do likewise. We are surrounded but such a great host witnesses witnessing to The Single Story of God’s love equal for all. And we each are invited to become a storyteller repeating with them the old, old story of Jesus and his Love.
Today as well we welcome another member into God’s household. In Baptism, this community repeats the Master’s Story proclaiming with one voice that Gavin is beloved by God and bears God’s image. We promise along with Gavin’s parents and godparents to seek and serve Christ in every person. We promise to strive to live the story that all of humanity is one. That we are each so very precious in the eyes of God. We promise also through our prayers and our lives to tell Gavin the story as he grows into maturity. We promise to strive even when it is most difficult to not fall back into the single stories of our own creation.
Likewise, we commission today the Servant Year community who lives among this parish church. They minister in our diocese in neighboring parishes and to the homeless of this city. They have pledged to repeat God’s Single Story of love and care of peace and reconciliation to all they meet. They have pledged to Seek and Serve Christ in every person. And today we pledge to support and nurture them in this endeavor. They have left their families their friends and even their homes to live in Christian community and have accepted the challenge of repeating the Single Story of God’s unending love to all.
We too, sisters and brothers, are called today to recommit ourselves to being storytellers in the Master’s service. We are invited to let go of the single stories that keep us from love from peace and from unity. We are invited to once more seek the support of God and this community in striving for justice and peace. We are invited to tell the Single Story written by the Master. And to tell it over and over and over again until it is what our world becomes.
“But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever--
for ever and ever”
“Holy ones, look about you and see the faces of those we know and love: neighbors and friends, sisters and brothers, a community of kindred hearts. Holy ones, look about and see the faces of those we hardly know: strangers, sojourners, forgotten friends, the ones who need and outstretched hand.
“Holy ones, look about and see all the images of God in me in you in each of us and in all the world so beloved. God’s image shines for all to see.
Open our eyes, our hearts, our souls this day. ”
That we may tell Your Single Story of love for all.