New Reality, by Pastor Kinsey
Welcome to the new reality, here in Chicago. Your Cubbies are World Series Champions! No more curse. No more lovable losers. No more waiting till next year. No more sorrow or sighing or dying, anymore!
The whole city, seemed to come out and celebrate on Friday, overwhelming CTA and Metra trains – an estimated 5 million fans – Holy Cow!
It was a perfect day for a parade, eternal sunshine and blue skies to match all the blue uniforms. All joining in the song of our hearts, Go Cubs Go, resounding from Wrigley Field to Grant Park. For those who couldn’t quite believe yet – and for whom it wasn’t quite real, in the darkest hours, almost midnight on Wednesday – the light of day shimmered with a new dawn, and we became, new people – winners and Champions, even! The beloved ones! The ones who having endured the great tribulation – have received the unfading crown of victory!
But how do we live in this new city, this new reality? How do we act? How do we perceive ourselves, no longer having to wallow in disappointment and weeping? How do we sustain this new identity – rejoicing and celebrating, as we hail these young Cubbies as champs, letting out a breath we’d held, in faith-filled promise, for 108 years? Living in the new now?!
And, there is also a bittersweet, poignant tinge, to the exhilaration - in remembering the beloved’s, who had longed for and waited for this day, who didn’t live to see it, even though they had lived in its hope, their whole lives long. Those who had passed down the true meaning of Cubbies life, as a fan, leaning into the future promised-day they could always see, and believe in, and stand in, as though it were theirs now – yet just out of reach. Those who had wept, though not despaired, even of the possibility.
You’ve probably heard the stories of the cemeteries that sprouted Cubs flags and pennants, flowers and balloons, and little stuffed cubby bears on the headstones, bearing names of these loved ones, who had lived in hope and faith. If it were true that they were in the heavenly stands, cheering us on for our continued course on earth, …in the bleachers, continually rising and falling in an eternal wave of the song of creation, then surely they would need the fan-gear along with their robes and crowns. And surely, we could join in this feast of victory together with them, in this thinly veiled time, when clearly anything was possible – heaven and earth could nearly touch, and bring us all into the new reality, if the Cubs became the Champions!
And, you’ve probably heard the stories of the names of the living and the dead, who were traced lovingly on the brick bleacher walls along Sheffield and Waveland, who then left nubs of chalk for others to use – leaving it on the ground near the wall or passing it on to strangers, in a sacramental communion. Children, more flexible, left messages on the ground. While others stood on one another’s shoulders, to reach a free space, over the rest of the messages.
From coast to coast, streamed in the countless host! Every continent poured in wireless messages to add a loved one’s name, from Peoria to Abu Dabyi. All could be part of, and brought into this circle, this new day, the near and the far, the living and the dead, those physically or spiritually present. All one! All accounted for. All together now!
So, on this All Saints Sunday, we come to this day ready to taste, and see, and touch, the reign and rule of God in the city of light, as it breaks in on us today. We come ready to see heaven and earth, the angels and archangels, the church on earth, and the church triumphant, joined in one song of victory over the curse of death and the finality of the grave. We can feel the roar of the City of God and join today the great wave spreading through the stands of the whole universe of creation, over space and over time, in praise of a God, for who nothing is impossible!
And we know it in the remembrance of our loved ones, who will be commemorated, each one, individually from the Book of Names, during the communion hymn today. Not just names, but relatives and friends we knew and loved, and who live in God’s blessedness now, who are still so very close. Souls who taught us, or taunted us; souls who loved us, and struggled with us; souls who were our mates, and those we barely knew; souls who changed our lives, then and now.
And so we take courage for our journey here below, from the boundary-breaking power of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, who calls us even today into a new reality, a new possibility of life that we can see, and touch, and taste, and participate in, where “the poor receive the kingdom of God”; the” hungry are filled”; and where “those who have been weeping tears of mourning are comforted and now may rejoice.” Where names are inscribed and re-membered into the eternal circle we make today, around the table of grace -here - - and where we are gathered with all our loved ones who have gone before us, into the feast of heaven and into the light of the city of God.
And where a city, which on the one hand, rejoices over a north side victory, still and yet, mourns the loss of young and promising life, once again, over the most violent weekend of the year. There is a bittersweet and poignant tinge to the exhilaration of the Cubbies championship, just as the victory of our Lord is tempered by the in-between times we still live in.
So what this All Saints Sunday offers us, is the power of life in Christ Jesus, and a new confidence and hope for addressing that which still divides us – and for renouncing, as we did for Alex’s baptism and Maku’s Confirmation, the powers of evil, the devil, and all that draws us away from God, and from the life and future God intends for us and for creation.
In that confidence and hope, we are reminded here today, that love has brought us, and holds us always close, in blessed memory in the communion of saints. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors today, to make our own marks, to rejoice in the gift of love and grace of God, which we have the opportunity to pass on to younger loved ones.
Native American poet Linda Hogan summarized this well when she said: Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me. “Be still” they say. “Watch and Listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
In the covenant of our baptism, the heavens are torn open so God can descend down to us in the form of a dove, and bless us, and send us out, no longer just sinners, but also saints, at the same time, as Luther taught us – called out by name, from the tomb of death to life, called into a new reality of life eternal, and listed in the roll call of all the saints!
God has loved us since creation. In the mind of God, we and our loved ones will never not have been, and we are held in this love with the countless hosts, in the stream of the faithful. The new city, and new reality may at times feel overwhelming, as it breaks through and dawns a whole new day for us. But with the crowd, and whole throng of the blessed, it is certainly something to celebrate and praise God for, already!
(with thanks to Kim Beckmann for her text!)