I guess it’s true what they say:
Man may work from sun to sun,
But woman’s work is never done.
And if you need a refresher about what that means, you can go to youtube and watch a very informative clip from the mid-1950’s, from the tv show the Honeymooners. If I would have loved to have downloaded and shared it with you. Instead, let me take a moment to tell you about it. Ralph Cramden comes home from work, and the 2 tasks he wanted his wife Alice to do that day are not done. Alice lists off all of the other many tasks she did complete that day, washing the floors and the windows, doing the dishes, that day, laundry and shopping. However, this is not good enough and as Ralph berates his wife, he declares that he is the boss of his wife.
But if a woman marries 7 times, as the Sadducees question Jesus, if a woman is given in marriage to 7 brothers, who is her boss, I mean her husband. Who does she cook, and clean, and sew for? The Sadduccees question about the resurrection: a woman’s work is never ever done.
But not according to Jesus. Most often in our gospels, Jesus spends more time talking about bringing the kingdom of God on earth. This is one of the times he gives us a clue about what resurrection means, what it might look like, how it might be experienced. In the resurrection a woman doesn’t have to owned by a man to work for him, so that she can be protected by him. The resurrection life doesn’t abide by our cultural and societal rules and standards. The resurrection is not a heavenly repeat of our day to day lives. That’s a good reason why some congregations are sing, “For all the saints who from their labors rest.”
This day we remember those who were close to us, those who raised us, who shared their faith with us, those who loved us. Those who even labored for us. We remember the saints named and nameless who worked for peace, for justice, for the gospel. As we live in this world, that list gets longer and longer, the ranks of saints get deeper and deeper, and we give thanks for them for all the saints who from their labors rest.
But if those saints—the saints in light—are resting, what does that mean for the rest of us. The saints in life here, all around us, you and me. Because, we are saints too. One of the gifts of the Lutheran reformation is the idea that at baptism we become God’s saints in this world.
So, back to my question, if the saints in light are resting, what are the saints in life doing? Not resting.
Our job is not done.
You know it seems like in some congregations, confirmation (like what Brienz and her family and friends will be celebrating later today) seemed more like graduation. There was homework and memorization, and tests, and at the end a ceremony, a robe, a diploma (I mean certificate). As if confirmation marked the end of learning and faith development. As if at the end of 2 or 3 years and at the ripe old age of 14 or 15 a young woman or man had all of the spiritual answers he or she might ever need, and they are done.
Brienz this I hope will sound more like good news than bad. Brienz, honey/young lady you are not done. If anybody thinks they know all the answers from some confirmation please share them with me—trust me it’s not cheating. Because confirmation is not about giving us things to memorize, mindlessly repeated answers. Instead Confirmation hopefully offered you some tools, so that, your life of faith, that began at baptism is not finished now. Faith is part of life’s journey. What you are doing today, is affirming your baptism. Basically saying, OK so a pastor sprinkled some water on me, my family sponsors said some words over and for me, and oh yeah—the Holy Spirit (which is basically invisible unless I see her in what people do for and with me) is constantly showering God’s forgiveness, love, and mercy on me—even when I don’t feel like it. Affirmation of baptism is like saying, “So that happened”. I get to say, OK, now it’s my turn to keep working on this faith, life, God, Jesus stuff.
Of course, Brienz we hope and pray that you don’t just think of this as a, you graduated and now this faith stuff is your job—that this is something we can clock out of, confine to some hours each week. Instead, we pray that in all that you do, your art, you relationships with your family, your life at school, with friends, and especially your life with yourself, that you may not just know, not just be told, but you feel the love of God. The love that is there in your good times, and in the tough times, and when you make mistakes. That’s what the baptized and confirmed life is all about. It is daring to be the woman you are becoming, not because you have all the answers, not because you have done everthing, but because you loved, and loved well. So today, as this congregation, family of love, family of faith, we affirm our baptism in words, and as you sprinkle water on us, through the ancient ritual of asperges, we can say, so that happened, we say, and hear, and feel, accept and rejoice that for us, the church, until we rest in the resurrection with all the saints, our work our journey together is, just not done. Amen.