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The Rev. Dr. John H. Pavelko

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 All Saints Sunday and 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 23:1-12

 The Humility that Leads to Sainthood

Serve Afghanistan

In times of war, civilians suffer severe casualties. They are nearly defenseless. They suffer traumas, the loss of limbs and death. Infant mortality is very high. Since the invasion of Afghanistan by the coalition forces, nearly 150 out of 1000 children born die each year. They are malnourished, un-vaccinated,and exposed to unsanitary water supplies. Those with disabilities suffering even worse. With a shortage of basic survival supplies, relieve workers struggle to obtain educational material for those who have some type of disability. Gayle Williams a British South African decided to respond to God's call and go to Afghanistan to serve. Her work focused on rehabilitation. She sought to raise awareness of the needs of the people with disabilities within the community. She tried to integrate children with disabilities into local schools. Gayle also provided rehabilitative training. She had been peacefully living in Afghanistan for over two years, but a radical Islamic group decided that she was proselytizing and they marked her for death. On October 20, two men rode up to her on a motorcycle and fired seven shots. Gayle Williams died a martyrs death serving her Lord and the people she loved.

In the early church, the people would gather on the anniversary of the death of a martyr and celebrate the Eucharist. With the persecution of emperor Diocletian, the numbers of martyrs became so great that a separate day to remember each person became impossible. In 270 they began to remember all the martyrs but we do not have a record of a specific date. Pope Boniface dedicated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and the martyrs in 609 on May 13. This date was later changed by Pope Gregory III in 731-741. Later it was expanded to include all those who have entered the church triumphant.

John Calvin discouraged celebrating the festival because of its superstitious trappings. Many Catholics believed that the relics of the saints held supernatural power to heal and bring answers to prayer. Each year these relics were brought out for the public and for a donation, the faithful would be allowed to touch one of these treasures. Without the aid of scientific archeology, there was no way to authenticate every claim and some became rather absurd. Calvin also believed that by prayers to the saints improperly displaced Christ' role as mediator with the Father in behalf of the believer. The reformer believed that we are to pray to the Father in the name of the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. He thought that prayers to saints are the Virgin Mary did not have any support in Scripture. However, I believe that we lose something when we do not remember the life and witness of those who have gone on before us, especially those who sacrificed their life in the service of their Lord.

By not celebrating All Saints Day we can easily forget the suffering that hundreds of thousands of Christians must endure each and every day. During this last year over 500,000 Christians have suffered martyrdom for the faith.

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Crossroads Presbyterian Church
1445 Welch Rd
Walled Lake MI 48390

Office - (248) 624-3821