I used the version of the story of Zacchaeus from The Lion Storyteller Bible by Bob Hartman. I’ve changed the name of the child being baptised. The (almost) quote of C S Lewis is taken from his excellent Screwtape Letters.
Saints; Reading: Luke 19:1-10
We’re celebrating All Saints Day today. So, when I say the word ‘saint’ what do you think of? [Talk to the people around you]
Probably people who are dead. Perhaps people who are good. But, what ‘saint’ means is members of the church. God wants all of us to be saints and that’s what we celebrate on All Saints Day – that we can all be saints.
Baptism is how we are welcomed as saints. So, welcome St Holly! You are part of God’s family, part of Jesus’ body on earth. And the promise of God is that he will stay faithful to us, and calls us to stay faithful to him. That’s why we can celebrate that, through baptism, we are all part of God’s family, that goes all round the world and all through time.
We’re all part of God’s family, we’re welcomed into God’s family through baptism.
But, we know how difficult families can be sometimes, don’t we? The times we’re fallen out, or had arguments, or not wanted to talk to each other.
And that’s where the reading that we heard comes in.
What does Zacchaeus do? Why? What did Jesus do? Why? And then what does Zacchaeus do?
Crowd gossiped and didn’t think that Zacchaeus could change – and were surprised when he did.
Saying sorry for the wrong things we’ve done (and the good things that we haven’t) is only the first step. God then wants us to do something about it – to try and change what we’re doing. If you’re friends with someone you want to spend time with them and do things together and that’s exactly what God wants us to do with him.
This isn’t about buying our way into heaven, it’s about showing how important God is to us – and if we ask him for help then through his Holy Spirit he will help us.
C S Lewis – the person who wrote the Narnia books and lots of other books about Christianity – said Imagine if God appeared and said to you Right, I want your total service for one day. What do you think that he might get you to do? [Have a chat about that]
C S Lewis said he’d be as likely to say, Get up, go to work or school, look after the house or do whatever you normally do, but try your best, work hard and be friendly to those people around you – especially the ones you find annoying.
St Paul, who wrote a lot of the Bible, said Do everything as though you were doing it for Jesus himself. God wants us all to be saints, to use our God-given talents to the best of our ability, using our lives to show God’s love, loving people, and the world, as God loves.
So, who have been the saints in your life? Who are those people that you want to say thank you for? [Talk to those around you]
How do we need to be more like saints? What do we need to ask God to help us with in our lives? Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to talk about this, but do have a think about it!
Because, we are all called to be saints, using our talents and lives to serve others, loving them as God loves us. Different people with different skills and abilities are needed. We’re welcomed into God’s family in baptism, we’re welcomed as saints. But that’s the start of our journey, a journey God will help us with if we ask him. So, let us ask God to help us to carry on being the saints he calls us to be. Amen.