Today's Lectionary Text
Genesis 18:18-19Abraham will certainly become a great populous nation, and all the earth’s nations will be blessed because of him. I have formed a relationship with him so that he will instruct his children and his household after him. And they will keep to the Lord’s path, being moral and just so that the Lord can do for Abraham everything he said he would.”
To most people in this part of the world, today is Halloween. Witches and ghosts abound – as well as Disney and Marvel characters – as children circulate neighborhoods and “trunk or treat” sites.
But today is also Reformation Day in many Protestant churches, especially those that practice some variation on the reform theology that was pioneered by Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and others whose names are less well known to most United Methodists. On this day many congregations honor those early reformers for the heritage they passed down.
Tomorrow is All Saints Day. A day when we honor and remember the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us – although many congregations will not celebrate this feast day until next Sunday. Typically, in Protestant churches All Saints is a day we specifically remember and honor those members of our congregations who have passed into glory since last All Saints Sunday.
What I see in both the celebration of Reformation Day and All Saints Day is a holy heritage that has formed and re-formed our faith stories down through the ages. Just as God formed a special relationship with Abraham, and Abraham, in turn, passed that relationship down to his family, those who came before us also passed down to us a heritage of faith. On these special days I am mindful of those people who have been my own mentors in faith – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, pastors, colleagues, and the people of congregations I have known over 70 years of life.
Today, I am especially mindful of the rich heritage and unique relationships in my life as I have the honor of preaching at the church which formed me in my youth – the church where I was baptized and confirmed, and where I preached my very first “sermon” (if it could really be called that) during my college days.
Most of the people who were a part of that formation are long gone, but there are still a few left – the couple who were MYF sponsors, a few for whom I babysat their young children, and one or two with whom I attended school. I owe much of my grounding in the faith to this little congregation, as do countless people who took with them what they had received when they went out into the world. The members there have been passing on our heritage and our special relationship to God for well over one hundred years – and they continue to do so. Just as do hundreds of small membership and rural churches throughout the Great Plains. May the cycle never end!
Robbie Fall, Retired Elder
Prayer for Reflection
Thanks be to you, O God, for those who came before us and helped to form and re-form our own practices of faith. May we be bold to hand down this heritage to those who come after us. Amen.
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