- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2003

The following is a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Lillian R. Geib at Salem United Methodist Church in Brookeville.

Have you ever visited the Vietnam War memorial? If you have, you know that it has a stunning effect.

The most memorable impression comes not from statues or images of Vietnam warriors; the most memorable effect is those rows and rows of names — so many names. As you stand at the wall, looking at the names, suddenly you realize that you see your face reflected in the polished black granite. You stand there, looking at your reflection, the names of those who have gone before and the reflection of those waiting behind you. In this way, you experience a true appreciation of your place in the story of the world. That is what All Saints’ Day is about.

This day more than any other day is a family reunion for the church. A family reunion that is unbound by time or space. We are indeed able to remember and honor all of those who have loved and do love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. And who loved their neighbors in such a way that God’s love shines through. This is a day for pulling out the old family albums so that we might remember where we come from and envision where we are going.

Open one and you may find Naomi, Ruth and Orpha at the crossroads that lead to either Moab or Judah. You might find Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego triumphantly emerging from the fiery furnace.

Pick up another and you may find Mary and Martha arguing about what needs to be done, or Stephen waiting on tables. Perhaps a picture of Saul taking a bad tumble from his horse. Yet in another Saint Francis, standing barefoot in the snow, his wolf by his side and birds on his shoulders. Saint Joan of Arc, who led men twice her size into battle. She preferred armor to petticoats and puzzled everyone by dressing like a man, but the voices of her critics were nothing compared to the voice of God.

Or you might find John and Charles Wesley preaching and singing the great hymns of our faith in a field; Gandhi pointing to the evils of colonialism; Martin Luther King Jr. marching for equal rights.

You might even find Thomas McCormick sorting the mail or preaching right here in Brookeville. You might see Miss Bessie’s Sunday school class grappling with the story of Moses and the burning bush. You might see members of Salem filling boxes with canned food for Olney Help. You might see a picture of the [Appalachian Service Project] work crews as they set out for their week of mission work. And you just might see some Polaroid pictures just coming into focus.

This is what All Saints’ is about — time for us to appreciate our place in the unbroken line of the faithful. As you come forward this morning for Communion, pause to appreciate our wall of saints. See yourself as a refection of their love of and commitment to God. Ponder the ones who will follow you. We are made one in Christ by the sharing of this holy feast.

For today we remember and honor all the saints, not just the more notable martyrs but your parents, your Sunday school teachers, the preachers, all those who have preceded you in this church and in the faith. As we remember their names, we see them reflected in our lives. We visualize those who will follow. We join the procession down through the ages. We take our place at the table and in the unbroken line of faithful spirits moving at the call divine. Amen….

Evangelist John Wesley loved All Saints’ Day. Many of his journal entries for November 1st over the years make mention of that fact. The following quotation is from his 1766 journal:

“God, who hath knit together his elect in one Communion and fellowship” gave us a solemn season at West Street, as usual, in praising him for all his saints. On the day in particular, I commonly find the truth of these words [by Charles Wesley]:

“The Church triumphant in his love/Their mighty joys we know/They praise the Lamb in hymns above/And we in hymns below.”

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