Sunday, November 27, 2011

Entering Advent

I've been thinking about the words from the 1 Peter reading that closed out  yesterday morning's Year A  lectionary:

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.  Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.

I find as I enter Advent, these words are probably just as good as anything.  It feels like the send off a parent might give to a child as they slip them a twenty dollar bill as the kid goes off to college.  And, in a way, that is what Advent is like.  We are being sent off into a new year and new experiences that come with the cycle of waiting expectantly for Christ's entry into our world.

I say "our world" because that's what happens in this ritual of remembrance.   The literalist will be looking for the "acutal, flesh and blood" return of the Messiah to fulfill the promise we recite at the Eucharist: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."   But I don't think in "literal" terms when I consider the idea of the Messiah's return.  Christ, for me, returns every year, like clockwork, at the end of Advent with Christmas Eve and the singing of "Joy to the World".  And the question for me always at that moment is, "Am I ready for this?"   It's all fine and good when we are in awe of this baby, whose majestic birth happens in a manger with animals and shepherds.  But that is just the beginning.  The baby grows up, and presents challenges to the status quo.  If we agree to journey with Christ in this annual maturation, we might find ourselves challenged to see things differently and poked and prodded out of our comfort zones.  And, with this being the "Mark Year," we're climbing on-board with the Christ who is the Doc Marten wearing no nonsense Messiah.  He doesn't have time for games; Mark's version is the Christ of action. Now.

Time to get serious, be disciplined, and stay constant in love.  Then, perhaps we'll be ready for the topsy-turvy ride with the newborn babe. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bittersweet Ending of a Tradition

Tomorrow at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, two midwestern football rivals will take to the field in a game that has come to be known as the Border War.

The University of Missouri-Columbia Tigers vs. the University of kansas Jayhawks... also known as the "Ugly Birds".   Yes, as an alumna of Mizzou, I have an opinion about our opponent.  This game has been played every year since 1891... and its roots go back to the national upheaval during the Civil War.   Kansas was a free state.  Missouri was a slave state.  The "Jayhawkers", a band of hooligans from Kansas, would make periodic raids into western Missouri, burning towns and making mayhem.   Missouri responded by sending William Quantrill and his raucous Bushwhackers into Lawrence (home of kU), burning it to a crisp.

Today, fires and raids have given way to helmets, shoulder pads, and brutal tackling.   As these gridiron gladiators go at it on the field, fans from both sides will be screaming themselves to hoarseness as the bands play on with the fight songs to encourage their teams.

Sadly, tomorrow will likely be the last time Missouri will play its arch rival in this classic showdown.  My Alma Mater, for reasons of money, has decided to leave the Big 12 Conference and will begin playing in the SEC next season.  They'd been trying to join the Big 10, another Midwestern-based conference.  But Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Wisconsin.... they all refused to acknowledge the request.  Or simply chose to look the other way.   Meanwhile, the SEC was happy to include an institution with one of the premiere Journalism Schools in the nation... as well as a football team that could join Vanderbilt in the "homecoming guest" department.   And so, beginning next year, Missouri will have a Border War with.... umm.... with....


That doesn't work for me.

In fact, most of this whole realignment business of the collegiate athletic conferences doesn't work for me.  The Big 10 has twelve teams; The Big 12 this year had 10 teams.  The PAC 12 (used to be PAC 10) includes former Big 12 school Colorado... a school that might be on the Pacific Coast in the event of global warming!   Florida State has been in the Atlantic Coast Conference... even though it sits closer to the Gulf of Mexico.    The whole thing is a stinking mess, and it is all about money, and television revenues.  Not for the players, of course.  They're chattel in this high stakes world of college sports. The universities make a mint off of them.  And as legislatures continue to hack away at higher education, the need for revenue from the athletic programs becomes greater.  What should be just a game is now all about the ca-ching of cash flow.

Lost in all of this are the rivalries such as Missouri vs. kansas.  When kU heard that Missouri was going to bolt from the Big 12, the Ugly Bird school threw down the gauntlet:  leave, and this rivalry match-up is over!   Mizzou's response: we never liked you very much any way.  So, see ya later and we'll play the Gators.

As an alumna, I am disappointed.  The bitterness between the two schools and the two states has actually been fun.  All Mizzou alums get a kick out of refusing to capitalize the "k" because we know that kansas is "Neither a proper noun nor a proper state!"    In turn, the more Union-friendly fervor of kansans burns hot every time they proclaim that they've been "protecting America from Missouri since 1854!"  And when I was a student in the late 80s, both schools had the same football cheer: "Oh, yeah?! Wait 'til basketball season!!"

I hope that both schools will come to their senses and realize that we are really talking about a game, and that these conferences have become so meaningless in their geographical alignment that to sacrifice a tradition that dates back to 1891 and draws the attention of alums and curious on-lookers alike is just plain stupid.  Surely, one of the SEC foes will forgo a game against the Missouri Tigers to allow them to play the Ugly Birds.   For those of us who went to these schools, the game against the rival might be the only one that could get us excited about the sport in question.  I mean, no one at Mizzou ever gave up her tickets to football or basketball games against kU. 

Guess that won't be an issue any more.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Happy Turkey Day, America!

This is the day where we all gather 'round the dining room table to feast on fowl, sweet potatoes, cranberries, green bean casseroles, dressing, and pies.   At least, that's how Publix wants us to think.  And by the packed parking lots, it's clear that the message has sunk in.  Thanksgiving is about food!

And family, related or chosen.  People will travel by plane, car and train to be with others for this feast day.  In fact, this is the biggest travel holiday of the year, and AAA is predicting more people will leave home for the holiday than last year.

And football.  Yes, of course!  It's about watching the Detroit Lions vs. the Chosen Opponent.  In year's past, one could safely say the opponent would easily stomp the poor, hapless Lions.  But now they've become contenders.  So, it could be an exciting game!

And God?

One of an overly-pious nature could scoff at all of the above as proof that secularism is killing Christ and robbing us of our faith in God.   OR one could recognize that in all of this, God is there.  It is a good, and right, and joyful thing always and everywhere to remember and praise God for the blessings we have in life: food, family, and--yes--football.   God is there in our rejoicing as well as when we are in sorrow and despair.  And I believe even when we are not actively praising God, if we live knowing that God is ever present with us and moving in, through and around us, if we believe we are redeemed and respond to redemption by treating all things with same love and respect we have experienced, then we are blessing in deed as well as by our words.

Thanks be to God for all the blessings and challenges and love that we share for our friends, family and the world in which we live in.   And may everyone enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the Non-Conformist King

We are reaching the end of Pentecost and the Church calendar year culminating in what is called, "Christ the King" Sunday.  It is the time when we reflect that Christ's kingship is not like any others.  He never drew a sword or went into a battle.  He preferred to assert his rule through being who he was and encouraging those around him to follow his example.  He gets killed for this, but not even death could conquer him.  And, as evidenced today by how many still revere his name,  he continues to prove that he has risen, and is still beckoning us to live in the way he was teaching us: love one another, build each other up, lend a hand to someone in need.  And love yourself remembering that you are loved by God first.
It is a day of great joy and celebration as we prepare for the entry of Christ into the world on December 25th.  And then the journey begins in earnest as the baby grows up into the man who is the redeemer of the world.
As I reflect on the readings in the lectionary, especially the gospel lesson from Matthew 25,  I considered the common theme of searching out the lost and lonely, giving wisdom to those who stay in relationship with God, and noting that those who are in right relationship with God are the ones who treat the least among their society with dignity and respect.    I put those insights along side what is happening in the world today, especially with our treatment of the transgender communities and those who don't conform to gender "norms."  We have a long way to go toward fully living up to the commandment to love one another as Christ loved us.   Remember, Christ was a king who did not beat or kill anyone.  When confronted by someone who was "other" in his First Century society, Christ the King often times behaved in a way that some of his contemporaries might not have thought was fitting of a King.  If the Sadducces had had the term, they might have called him, "queer" and not because he was funny looking! 
And that is one of the reasons I value Christ.  For one who was a man, he had an ability and a desire to see women respected and gave them close access to him.  Women were his messengers to the disciples when he rose from the dead.  Mary sat at his feet learning.  Countless women and men with disabilities became able through contact with Christ and are held up by the evangelists as evidence of the ministry Jesus was doing on earth.  He was a man in physical appearance, but he was non-conforming.  He was an outward and visible sign of a man with a very different inward and spiritual grace. 
I have said to people that I believe God is transgender.  In fact, God transcends all our perceptions of what gender is or should be.   The construct of male-female is so limiting.  I see God as having no discernible human form; hence can have a gender that is fluid and at-ease in all genders.  It is this DNA that lived in the male body of Christ that I believe gave him the extraordinary ability to be with men and women fully and equally and treat them with dignity no matter their human condition.  As such, I imagine Christ would not flinch upon meeting someone trans, nor would he have had a problem with the "ma'am" or "sir" pleasantries.  He would have loved them and included them in his royal court of those in need of some kindness.
Today, many of us in the LGBT community are pausing to remember the violence committed against our transgender friends.  Those who would commit such hateful acts as burning people to death, or beating them with fists or clubs, clearly have never met the king who said that those who fed the hungry,  welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, took care of the sick, and visited the prisoner were the righteous in the sight of God.   That king is unambiguous about this message of love.   And this king will gather the sheep left shivering for wont of shelter from a society hostile to differences.   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seeking Input

The following message is for anyone who wants to see marriage equality become a reality in the Episcopal Church liturgy.

In reading Rev. Susan Russell's blog, I saw where from now until November 27th, anyone who is a deputy to the Church's National Convention in Indianapolis next summer is invited to read and make comment on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music's white paper on same-sex marriage rites.

The rest of us, I guess, don't get to comment until after that period. 

Here's the link to the item on Rev. Russell's blog.

The SCLM is offering two resolutions to consider.  One would be to adopt the liturgical materials they have developed and begin implementing them in those jurisdictions that allow for same-sex marriage beginning on 1Advent of 2012.   The other option is to ask the Presiding Bishop and the House of Deputies President to appoint a task force to "study the theological, scriptural, historical, canonical, and liturgical aspects of marriage and to develop tools for theological reflection along with norms for theological discussion at the local level."  In other words, either go for it on fourth down or punt for another three years.   Folks, honestly:  the discussion about full inclusion of LGBT people in the church has been happening since 1976!!  Babies born in that year have already gone to college, started a career, and come out of the closet.  They are now parish priests, for crying out loud!  I think we are all talked out by now. 

If I were running a "TR" on the two options, I would have a field day. 

What does Tradition say?  Well, they've got lots to look at in the Blessing of a Marriage language in the BCP, and they've done research on these "new" rites as indicated in their white paper.  Some might quote the same tired-old business out of the Bible from Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians.   Whatever.  
What does Culture say?  "The Church is stupid and hateful toward gays."   (Don't believe me?  I'll invite you to a party with my "unchurched" friends!)   
What experiences have I had?  None, really.  I live in Florida and the voters already made my choice for me and the church.  But I sure do get goose-bumps when I see all those other people getting married and seeming to be so happy and joyful.  How much more so will be those who are faithful members of the Episcopal Church who have waited, and waited to have their relationships celebrated in the same way we see our straight brothers and sisters being blessed?
What is my Position?  That the Church should quit the damn studies, and get on with it!
What Insights do I gain from all of this?  That the Church needs to move at a pace that is respectful and comfortable for the members who are the most leery... but the ones who are most leery must also trust that those who have been standing along side them as they wade into these unchartered waters are not going to hold them under and drown them.  Nobody is "dunking" anyone else... and it is time to learn how to swim.  Then everyone can enjoy the water and play with each other.  And all will be well.

So if you are a deputy, or know someone who is a deputy, please forward this message and encourage this process to move ahead and get us off the dime.  Please!

Peace.  Out.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gleaning from the Gospel (and Everything Else)

Blessed Lord, who have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning.  Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

With those words setting the stage, we dive right in to the readings assigned for the Episcopal Lectionary for this Sunday.  I'm sorry the diviners of our lessons decided NOT to tell "the rest of the story" from our Hebrew Scripture lesson out of Judges.  They give us the basics:  once again, the Israelites are screwing up... and this time Deborah is their judge.  She's a prophetess who sits under her palm tree and tells Barak to go get ready for battle with Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army.  And that's where they stopped the story. 

Perhaps they felt that Sunday morning wasn't the time to let everyone know that another woman, Jael, gets Sisera into her tent and, as he's sleeping, she jams a tent peg through his head.  Deborah, Barak and Jael then do a chorus line number to celebrate the victory. 

Like I said, they didn't go there... and so we'll just leave it alone.

Out of Psalm 123... I found myself drawn to these verses:

"Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy,
for we have had more than enough contempt,
Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich,
and of the derision of the proud."

I imagine that perhaps these are the words that the Israelites might have used to gain God's attention as they found themselves up against the Canaanite army of Sisera.  They sound like words I could have used once or twice in my life!  

Don't fret: the 1 Thessalonians reading goes on to talk about how those who have found themselves "in Christ" are children of light, live in the day, put on breastplates of faith and hope and helmets of salvation.  And, one of the most critical lines of any of Paul's instructions:  "Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing."

And here we arrive at the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew's 25th chapter... and the story of the man who gives three slaves a certain number of talents (talents were "sums of money" not the ability to swallow swords or twirl batons) and then leaves them for a very long time.  When he comes back, he finds that the one who had the five talents wheeled and dealed his way to doubling the fortune.  The one who he had given two talents did the same.  Both of these slaves were praised and given even more responsibility as they became part of the kingdom.  Slave number three, who had only had the one talent, is described as being afraid.  So afraid that he didn't do anything with this pot of gold except bury it in the ground.   When he faces up to the man, he can't admit that he did anything wrong.  Instead, he says, "I buried it because I knew YOU (the master) were dishonest and you don't reap what you sow and you scatter your seeds everywhere... and... and... and...."   This episode doesn't end well for slave number three.   Upon hearing the excuses, the master has the talent taken from the slave and then orders him to be cast into the outer darkness where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Sitting with this story, especially after all the rest of the readings,  I was thinking about this third slave and his motivation (or lack thereof) in handling this gift.  Even one talent in those days of ancient Palestine was no chump change, so it's not like he couldn't have done a lot with it.   But he had a choice of what to do:  do I go wheel and deal like the others and increase the amount of this "seed money" or do I give in to my fear that if I part with any of it, I won't have enough?   From the story we learn which choice he makes.   And then there was the projection: the slave says he didn't do anything with the money because he knows the master to be this dishonest guy who just takes whatever and randomly scatters seeds all over the place.  And then there is the master's response:  "You knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?  Then you ought to have invested my money with bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest."

Aside from snickering that the money should be invested with "the bankers" to earn interest, we see that the one thing the third slave failed to do was the work of "building up" others.  That's what happens when you take your money and put it into circulation.  I think about the call in our community to "Shop Local."  Buying goods from a local merchant as opposed to the Wal-Marts of the world means that you are helping a neighbors to earn the dough they'll need to make purchases, pay employees, etc.  I consider this part of the "building up" of our community.  I also think this particular slave is an example of one who hasn't put on the breastplate of faith and hope.  Instead, he's afraid and sticks his money in a hole.  But above all, I was struck by the way the third slave projects all this crap onto the master who'd given the talent to begin with.  In my ears, this is the same thing I hear from those I know who are estranged from a faith tradition or just flat-out hostile toward any religious belief.  What they say they know of God, or of Christianity, is often negative and punishing: hardly a God who will hear the cry to have mercy.   So much of what they say they know about God or Christ or the Gospels is usually tainted by some terrible experience.  And that experience is not coming from God... or Christ... or the Gospels.  It's coming from those who claim to have the religious authority to speak for God who then commit the sin of taking God's good words and works in vain by twisting them into a club to smack people over the head. 

What a person might know about God could be very, very badly off-base.  I would venture a guess that God is always willing to have someone like this third slave say, "OK, so I was wrong.  I screwed up, and buried the talent because I thought you were a mean ol' cur, but I see that you are not."   That's the repentance and redemption piece of the story which happens again and again in Scripture and beyond to our current day.  Too bad the third slave didn't understand that.

May we never forget it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pope Joe Pa: Buh-Bye

There are lots of things I could blog about, but tonight I am shaking my head in amazement and horror at the destruction of a giant of American college football.
Joe Paterno, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years, has been fired in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal involving his former defensive co-ordinator.  The story is tragic.  Jerry Sandusky joined the Penn State coaching staff in 1969, and eight years later, begins a program called Second Mile in 1977.  He sets up group foster homes for troubled boys who either have no family or come from dysfunctional backgrounds.  And it is from this setting that Sandusky meets his victims... as many as nine boys... who he would take to the showers at the Penn State football stadium and abuse them.  According to the timeline in the grand jury indictment, numerous people, sometimes the parents of the boys and sometimes university employees, saw or learned of the abuse and reported it.
But nothing happened.
And the worst was the graduate assistant who saw Sandusky having sex with a 10 year-old in the showers.  The grad assistant didn't intervene to save the boy.  Instead he told his father, and the next day went to Head Coach Joe Paterno and told him.   Sandusky wasn't even on the official coaching staff, but was some kind of "coach emeritus" with the team.
Did Paterno call the cops?  No, he called the athletic director.  Did the athletic director call the cops?  No, instead everyone promises to "look into it."  Sandusky has his keys taken away.  But not his freedom.
This was in 2002 when there were a number of headlines about the Roman Catholic Church's own issues with child sex abuse.  And Paterno is Catholic.   His response to the news that something was rotten in the showers of his vaunted football progam is too reminiscent of how his Holy See also preferred to look the other way as it became apparent that the church would shuffle pedophiles from one parish to another.
Paterno had announced earlier today that he would retire at the end of this, his 46th season.  The 84 year-old coach probably still believed that his legacy could still be salvaged.  Certainly, everyone would remember his "Great Experiment" of making championship-worthy football go hand-in-hand with great academics.  He probably wanted to add another win to his record of 409, more than any other coach in college football. 
Instead, the Board of Trustees have told Joe Pa: Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Good-Bye.  Same with the University President. 
Like I said, it's all tragic and sad.  Especially for Victims numbers 1-9. 
Most college sports teams are shaken up by financial misdeeds by boosters, or athletes breaking the law, or college tutors cheating on behalf of the players to keep the athlete eligible to play.   But raping young boys in the team shower?  Sorry, Joe Pa.  If you knew and did nothing, you do not deserve to leave on your terms. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

How Time Flies: Happy Birthday, NACC

Yesterday was a marathon day with many appointments with clients and meetings at the church and read-throughs for a radio script for the Mickee Faust Club.  When I finally sat down at the computer at 11pm, and opened my blog roll, I was reminded that November 3rd--aka Richard Hooker Day-- was the day a group of us in the blogosphere launched the No Anglican Covenant Coalition. 

The goal was simple: an online campaign to educate the global Communion about the dangers of adopting a document designed to centralize power in the Anglican Communion to a group of bishops and others in the hierarchy who would dictate what's what, and sanction any Church that doesn't do as they say.   It is, in my opinion, a throwback to the days of the Oxford Movement and this idea that somehow we had lost our way and need correction for "orthodoxy" sake.  And, much as the supporters of the Anglican Covenant have tried to deny this, it is a punishing document that attempts to do the unthinkable: streamline thinking in the Anglican Communion.

Study the history of the development of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion and you'll see that we, those who have bought into communal relationship, have always been a motley crew that were held together by belief in a Triune God... and conviction that one should apply reason to scripture and church tradition (thank you, Richard Hooker).   To suddenly decide that we need to agree to "What is an Anglican" is absurd and arrogant.   And it seems from accounts around the world, the only ones who can agree to the Covenant's terms are the ones sitting on island nation in Europe, sipping their tea and repeating the line that the Covenant is "the only way forward."   As MadPriest notes, this insistence will be the death of the Church of England.

I have not been as active a member in the No Anglican Covenant Coalition during the past several months.  I care about what's happening and I'm impressed with the work our group has done to assemble documents and arguments, not to mention the countless blog entries all of us have written.  Our international leader, Revd. Dr. Lesley Crawley, has done well to keep our message out there as has our stateside leader Lionel Deimel.  There is a certain soap opera-like quality to the Anglican Covenant storyline that allows me to check in and out and still know--roughly--what's happening while I continue to eek out a living and participate in the church as a member of the laity.   My own contribution to the Coalition has been the occasional bit of humor as expressed through the Bishop YellowBelly series which can be found HERE.  Between me and Mr. CatOLick, I think we have used comedy to the best effect of pointing out the ridiculousness of the Covenant.

The latest news is that yet another Maori member of the Communion has rejected the Covenant.  In the United States, dioceses are rolling out their rejections of the document as we countdown to our General Convention in Indianapolis next July.  I haven't heard what the Diocese of Florida wants to do with it, and we usually don't get that news unless we call Jacksonville and ask for it.  I probably won't make that call until early next year.  I have a feeling that as much as our Bishop enjoys the Lambeth Conference too many on this side of the pond are seeing the Covenant as a ham-fisted way to solve a perceived problem.  And those of us who have lived through the schisms and the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the "more orthodox than thou" believe that this document only continues to stir pot whose contents have already been emptied.

The only way forward is simply to move forward.  Boldly and bumbling as we attempt to run without stumbling to obtain the heavenly promises of God.  Nix the Covenant and let's get on with it. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Into the Cloud of Witnesses

As one might expect, I awoke this morning with the All Saints' hymn running through my head.

For all the saints who from their labors rest...

I was thinking about all who have passed in the last 12 months, both family members, fathers of friends, and especially the pioneers and the prophets of the gay civil rights movement.  There is a lovely entry over at Jesus in Love that commemorates the LGBT saints who have died since this time last year.  And this morning, I learned of one more.

Axel Axgil, who was among the first out gay leaders in Denmark and helped to make that country the first in Europe, and the world, to legalize same-sex partnerships, passed away on Saturday from complications related to a fall.  He was 96. 

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, fight as the saints who nobly fought of old...

Axgil was born Axel Lundahl-Madsen.  He was one of the founders of LGBT Danmark... then known as Forbundet af 1948 or F-48, The Association... in 1948.   He and his partner, Eigil Eskildsen, were sentenced to a short prison term on pornography charges in 1955 for running a gay male modeling agency that took nude photos of men.  While in prison, they melded their first names into a new surname--Axgil--in an act of public defiance. They, along with others, fought for decades for the right to have gay relationships recognized by the government.  They persevered and on October 1, 1989, they joined  10 other couples in becoming the first to enter into a civil union and gain many of the same rights as heterosexual Danes.  Denmark finally granted LGBT couples the right to adopt children last year.

A quote in the Washington Post from Vivi Jelstrup of LGBT Danmark said that Axgil never saw the struggle as "his" cause.

"He was a modest man...He always underscored that there were many involved in the work and that it was a common cause.”

Eigil Axgil died on September 22, 1995.

O blest communion fellowship divine!  We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in thee for all are thine.

Reading stories about men such as Axel Axgil remind me that I am part of a continuum of the saints who have worked to bring this world forward in the struggle for full equality for all people.  Many have gone before me to lift valleys up and bring mountains a little closer to the ground so that there is a level playing field.  Each of us, whether we are standing on a corner with a bullhorn crying out for justice, or simply presenting our full selves without apology before our neighbors, are helping to clear the path and make it a little wider for the next generation to travel toward a fair and just world. 

So often we think of saints as the ones who have died.  But really All Saints' Day is the time to realize that while some are now immortal, those of us still in this realm are continuing their good works and we are part of the tribe of sainthood.  We are to carry on what they have done and accomplish more before it's our turn to rest.     

Alleluia, alleluia!