Feast of All Saints ’23
5 November 2023, 10 am service
Matthew 5.1-12
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

In the Name of God +; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


In just a few minutes it will be our honor and privilege to welcome four precious baby souls as the newest members of the Family of God:

Hudson Kevin Hineborg, Harrison Carter Bennett, Patrick James Bennett, and Gabriel Gene Strickland!

It may surprise you to hear that my favorite part (as a priest) of a baptismal service is not the pouring of baptismal water over their heads; my favorite part of the service is when I get to anoint their foreheads with Holy Oil in the shape of the cross while saying their names and with these words: “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked as Christ’s own forever.” How marvelous, how wonderful! The amazing truth that all four of these precious ones are about to become marked men – marked as God’s own children, for the rest of their lives. And it will take the rest of their lives to fully live into this truest of all identities – their identity as a beloved child of God.

As well know too well, these young souls have entered a world that is far from perfect, a world filled with violence and war, bigotry and racism, greed and manipulation. Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat any of these things, in fact, in his greatest sermon called “The Sermon on the Mount” he adds to that list: poverty, grief and mourning, hunger and thirst, those who are without strength, those who are merciless, those with impure hearts, those who seek war and not peace, those who seek to punish the upright, those who will slander and falsely accuse the innocent.

Jesus doesn’t promise to spare us any of these ills of body, soul, or spirit. What Christ does offer to us is a Blessing (that is the gift of God’s special grace and favor). In the midst of all of the darkness he offers us: The Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, an inheritance in the earth, the gift of righteousness, of mercy, clearer vision of what God is like in this life, and finally, the full and perfect sight of God in eternity! 

God has promised to be with us and to never leave or forsake us, no matter what. God desires an ever-growing relationship with all of us. With each new challenge God brings us new opportunities to trust in his loving care for us – to bless us in the midst of our earthly life with the Divine presence.

God has also given us his body on earth, The Church with a capital “C”, a steady ship to guide us and help us to navigate both calm and troubled waters. These four souls will need us more than ever to be their supporters, their cheerleaders, and their wholesome examples of faith to inspire and instill hope, to help them grow into their identity as God’s beloved child. That’s why when the congregation is asked by the priest, “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?” We answer with a resounding – “We will!”  As we baptize these blessed ones today, may we be reminded of our own baptisms, and embrace more fully who we truly are – God’s beloved children. Amen.