Year C Proper 26 Luke 19
Who You Gonna' Vote For?
And so I ask you: What is the state without the church? What is a politician without visible values? What is life without faith? To borrow the words of Paul, "It is nothing." It is a resounding gong, a clanging symbol. Zacchaeus recognized this. He could not be in the presence of Jesus and not be moved. Moved to right the wrong in his life. He was a tax collector who taken advantage of many people. Lied to them. Swindled them. Skimmed off the top of his collections. And beyond all this, he had ignored the poor.
Now it's Tuesday morning for old Zacchaeus and he has to walk in the election booth and pull the lever. He is either going to vote for the state or for the faith. He is either going to vote for himself of for those he has defrauded. He will either cast his vote for Rome or for Christ. Come Election Day, who is he gonna' vote for?
- He Could Vote for the Tax Collectors.
- He Could Vote for the Poor.
- He Could Vote for Christ.
Sermon for All Saint's Day -
WWE Raw, Jesus Style
When pop culture transforms a "holy day" into a "holiday," it almost always manages to focus on the wrong side of the equation.
- The number of shopping days left til Christmas is NOT as important as the 12 day period between the Christmas day miracle and the season of Epiphany.
- A huge party, Mardi Gras, on "Fat Tuesday" is NOT as important as the forty days of Lent that follow.
- Eating all your chocolate bunnies before breakfast on Easter morning is NOT as important as rejoicing over living a resurrection faith on Easter afternoon.
- Tonight, while the world is preparing to throw itself a spooky, kooky All Hallow's Eve party, "Halloween" is NOT as important as is the celebrations it fronts for — All Saints Day and All Soul's Day.
Outwitting spooky spirits on Halloween is not essential to Christian discipleship. But remembering the "saints" is. Celebrating our ancestors in the faith, those men and women, some unknown, some esteemed, who lived and died furthering the Christian faith, that is the "holy day" the church needs to hold up to the world.
The Roman Catholic Church calendar still establishes a two day series of special masses and prayers that follow All Hallow's Eve — All Saint's Day on November 1 and All Soul's Day on November 2. All Saints Day commemorates the faithful who, according to the church, have achieved heavenly status. All Soul's Day is a day to pray for family members and the unsung saints of the world.
There is a historical argument that can be made for All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day being the most undercelebrated church holiday in the post-Reformation church. Before the Reformation some overzealous fundraisers in the church gladly granted what was called a "plenary indulgence" to those who attended church services on All Saint's and All Soul's day. According to medieval theology this meant that if you attended church on those days your presence automatically released one soul from purgatory.
The problem was that eventually the church ended up with a revolving door of visitors. It was the theological equivalent of buying a fistful of lottery tickets instead of betting on just one number. Better odds. People with lots of dead relatives would enter the church, offer the name of their deceased loved one, exit the church, and then turn around and do it all again, theologically assured that each time they re-entered the church that day they were freeing another Purgatory prisoner. Those with few relatives would simply draw up lists of historical figures they liked and hoped to chalk up heavenly credit to liberate them.
This kind of incentive for church attendance is questionable, though it did work. But the eagerness of living generations to stay connected to past generations, both in prayers and in practices, is admirable. For medieval Christians, the dead were still an active part of the living, and past generations still had something to offer the present generations.
It is hard for some of us to make that kind of connection anymore...