Below is the manuscript from Pastor Daekyung's Nov. 4 sermon.
Witness to the Word
Text: Romans 8:31-39
Title: Lead Us Not into Temptation, Deliver Us from Evil _ The Lord’s Prayer Sermon Series, Week 9
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Good morning. May God fill your heart with love and peace as we remember the saints who have led us to Jesus through Word and Sacrament at this time.
All Saints Day is a holy day John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement truly loved. I would like to share how the Methodists have thought about this special day with you. Here is an article taken from the United Methodist Church homepage.
November 1 is All Saints Day, a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations. It is not nearly as well known as the day before, All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, better known as Halloween, but is far more important in the life of the church.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.”
This may sound odd. United Methodists don’t believe in saints. Right?
Well, yes… and no.
John Wesley did not encourage anyone to worship the saints, but he believed we have much to learn from them.
All Saints Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church.
From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on.
Charles Wesley, John’s brother, picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist Hymnal as “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above” on page 709 that we sang at the beginning of worship today. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages:
Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone, for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.
On All Saints Day we remember all those—famous or obscure—who are part of the “communion of saints” we confess whenever we recite The Apostles’ Creed. We tell the stories of the saints “to glory gone.”
Alongside the likes of Paul from the New Testament, Augustine, Martin Luther, and John and Charles Wesley, we tell stories of the grandmother who took us to church every Sunday. We remember the pastor who prayed with us in the hospital, and the neighbor who changed the oil in the family car. We give thanks for the youth leader who told us Jesus loved us, the kindergarten Sunday school teacher who showered us with that love, and the woman in the church who bought us groceries when we were out of work.
Retelling these stories grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be.
Then, let’s think about how the stories of the saints are related to the seventh line of the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”? Every story of the saints tells us about those who patiently endure temptation and finally receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12, NLT). Recall the life of the Apostle Paul, John Wesley, your grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts, Sunday school teachers, spouses, children, brothers and sisters, friends who have gone before us in the faith. They strove to overcome temptation in their lives. They struggled to “avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, NIV). Their lives tell us to love not hate. The seventh line of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us of these stories of the saints.
In Romans 8:38-39, the Apostle Paul says, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But, evil tries to turn this conviction into disbelief. If the Triune God loves us as we are and invites us to love others as they are, evil constantly strives to stop us not only from loving ourselves but also from loving others. In other words, evil has the power to destroy every relationship. On the one hand, evil kills a relationship between God and us by making us doubtful about God’s unconditional and nondiscriminatory love for us. On the other hand, evil also disrupts a relationship between people by making us doubtful about God’s unconditional and nondiscriminatory love for others. There is no one whom God does not love. But, evil tempts us to believe that God’s love is partial and discriminatory.
Our ancestors of faith are the ones who tried to say no to this evil’s temptation. Every bereaved family whom I have met had something to say about the deceased in common. They told me about the love, compassion, and smile that their loved one had shown to them. In other words, they left a legacy of love in our lives. They didn’t teach us to hate. They inspired us to love. The stories of the saints encourage us to love not only ourselves but also others as God loves all of us. Therefore, whenever you pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” what you pray for is this: “Lord, help us to overcome evil that continually tempts us to doubt God’s love for us and others. Help us to believe that God loves us as we are. Also, help us love others as they are.”
“United Methodists call people “saints” because they exemplified the Christian life. In this sense, every Christian can be considered a saint”, which means each of us is a saint. Folks, someday, our family members and friends will recall and tell stories of us who are saints. Let’s help them to say, “My father let me know God loves me as I am”; “My mother always tried to practice God’s love without discrimination”; “My friend helped me realize how unconditional God’s love is.” Amen.