(Posted November 4, 2016)
This Sunday we gather to pay special tribute to those First Church members who have gone before us, to join “that great cloud of witnesses” that surround God in the holy kingdom.
Who are among that “cloud of witnesses?” These are not merely people who in the past had association with First Church. These are not merely people whose traits we should emulate. To be a witness in faith to Christ is to have lived in faith, despite challenges, sacrifice and opposition from those who find a witness’s compassion and lived ethics to be annoying, even dangerous. To be a witness, or as our forebears referred to them – a saint – is to have accepted the cost of being a disciple. Discipleship is not cheap.
I can only think of our founders who set out from Norwalk in the late 1680’s, intent on initiating a community on the frontier that was Danbury, and who gathered our church in 1696. That effort, in the face of great risk, took tremendous faith that God would guide them. I can only think of our congregation members who found themselves standing in the ashes and embers of their fourth meetinghouse in 1907, not even pausing in their determination because their faith told them that God would make a church building rise again. And here we are, worshipping nearly 110 years later.
And this Sunday as we honor the saints’ role in our church, I cannot imagine that they are, from a great vantage point, viewing us passively. I imagine them instead cheering us on, as we strive to keep faith alive, and our extravagant welcome to all as warm as ever. This Sunday as we listen to the Gospel that describes what we refer to as the Beatitudes, we realize with a new perspective that at that famous sermon, Jesus was not merely talking in broad terms about us all, but specifically about the disciples, and how they had given up everything to follow Christ on an unknown journey. So let us thank our saints, and strive to keep that Faith in Christ as vibrant as ever. Join us!
(And remember to set your clocks back one hour Saturday night – you deserve that extra hour back.) - Pastor Pat Kriss