There’s something fitting about hearing a reading from the book of Daniel this morning.
Daniel is a book all about kingdoms and exiles. His visions and prophecies concern the passing of empires, and the rising up and falling down of rulers. The dreams he has span the breadth of human history, covering whole centuries at a time.
How appropriate it is to consider matters such as rulers and governments in the days before we decide for ourselves who our new leaders will be. Many of you, like me, may have headed to the polls already, but on Tuesday we’ll all finally see who’ll be handed the reins of leadership next.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a tremendous amount of trepidation in these final hours before Election Day. I know that people on both sides of the political aisle are experiencing an extraordinary level of concern about the stakes this year, both those whose hopes align with mine and those who seek a different outcome.
What is Daniel told, there as the winds blow from heaven all around him? What is he told as terror grips him, there facing four great beasts as they emerge from the sea?
“But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.”
That’s very comforting, here when we all may be feeling a bit blown about ourselves. The Most High is, has always been, and will always be the one ultimate ruler.
That is not, however, a call to complacency either. We may take comfort in knowing that God’s will shall prevail in the end, but that’s not a justification for letting the world around us carry on without our involvement.
As it happens, there are two other things happening in the life of our church today. And both, if you think about it, connect with what’s going on in our country, as well.
Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, though technically it fell this past Tuesday. We’re all familiar with the festivities of the night before, Halloween, when we put on costumes and lead our kids from door to door in search of junk food. The thinking is that All Saints day is so laden with holiness that the goblins and ghouls have one final night of mischief before the collective power of God’s chosen puts them back under control.
I don’t believe that’s really what happens, but I’m happy for the excuse to pilfer a miniature Twix bar all the same.
So who counts as a saint, anyhow? I’d argue that we all do, or certainly that we all can.
How? The answer is so simple, and so familiar, that we may have forgotten it. But it’s there at the end of our passage from Luke.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Easy to say, easy to understand, hard to do sometimes. But that’s the key to sainthood, right there.
Another way of looking at it is to respect the dignity of every human being, words we find within our own baptismal covenant. To see in everyone around us the same inherent worth that each of us possess as children of God. To see everyone as deserving of love, compassion, and care.
That’s the work we strive to do here at St. George’s, too.
Which brings me to the other thing we’re celebrating here today. Today is our in-gathering of pledges, both for our annual budget and for our capital campaign. Today is when we bring forth our gifts to help our church do the work of God.
There’s so much that we do here as a community of faith to follow the words of that baptismal covenant. We lend a compassionate ear to those who are struggling through our Stephen Ministry Companions. We gather food for those who are hungry through our relationships with End68Hours of Hunger, York Community Service Association and Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center. We create space for young people to connect and explore the arts through our Youth Summer Arts Camp that we cosponsor with the York Art Association. We offer childcare, increasingly an unaffordable burden for working families, so parents can support them. We seek to transform this space to better do that work, and to become more welcoming to those whose physical needs make our present building less accessible.
It’s no small thing to ask people to give money, a topic we often try to politely avoid whenever possible. All of us can think of things we’d like to have, or do, the funds we give to causes we believe in. For some, those are luxuries. For others they come out of a tighter budget. But for those of you making a pledge today, I thank you for making a contribution to work in service to the kingdom of God, supporting the dignity of all those around you.
There’s a lot going on around us. We all have a role to play, but it may seem as though that role is small and insubstantial compared to the enormity of what’s at stake. It’s a very normal, human feeling to have. And it’s both true and comforting to know that the Most High will prevail in all things, no matter how they may appear at any given moment from our human vantage point.
But that role we play is important. It’s important when we see the dignity in any one person we encounter. It is important for the hungry person who is fed through our labor. It is important for the one young child who has a safe place to go and learn because of a gift we give. Every part of God’s kingdom matters.
And, of course, I hope you do make your voice heard at the ballot box, if you have not already done so. Every single vote matters. It’s not for me to tell you here what decisions to make when do cast yours. God speaks into every human heart directly. But may we always remember that everyone in this country and this world is a blessed child of God, and consider how we honor the dignity within each of them with every decision that we make. Amen.