First Lesson: Daniel 7: 1-3, 15-18
Responsive Reading: Psalm 149
Second Lesson: Ephesians 1: 11-23
Gospel Lesson: Luke 6: 20-31
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. .. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”-Revelation 2:10.
Let me begin with a story. About five years ago, Shirley Moschet from our congregation was in the hospital down in Duluth. Frank (her husband) wanted to be in the hospital room with Shirley. I was encouraged to drive Frank down.
Frank, I believe was 96 going on 97 at the time. Frank reluctantly agrees to the ride. Now, Frank must not have cared for driving very much. By the time I turned off on Superior Street, Frank turns to me saying: “Next time, I can drive myself.”
Frank being a social butterfly, even was able to find a different ride home. Anyone who spent time with Frank knew that he had a stubborn side to him.
Last year, I visited with Frank for a newspaper article. I had been blown away that at 101, Frank was still driving himself to church. Frank then admitted to me that on a nice day, he would drive up to his land on the Sonju Road. But I was not to tell his boys or else he’d be in trouble.
The problem was anyone who knew his boys would call as soon as they saw Frank drive out of town. Frank was going to see to it that he made his own decisions about when to drive and where to live as long as possible. Frank would die at home just hours before turning “102” years old.
Today we gather as a congregation for All Saints Sunday to remember those who have left our presence over the past year. We remember like Frank how Saints come in every type imaginable.
Roy Borges would appear to be Frank’s opposite in every way. Roy was sentenced to 45 years in prison for violating Florida’s three-strike law. Roy’s rap sheet is long: theft, assault, drug possession, burglary, illegal carrying of firearms, and robbery with a deadly weapon. Roy had been in and out of prison numerous times before receiving his forty-five-year sentence.
Something happened though as Roy descended towards rock bottom. Roy heard another prisoner talking about Jesus. Roy decided that he was going to attend a chapel service on Christmas Eve in 1989. This service would be the beginning of Roy’s testimony. Roy would spend his days in prison reading everything that he could about his new ‘faith”. Roy begins a writing career for the prison newspaper, which eventually leads to Roy publishing two books about his faith found in prison. Roy now spends his days between reading, writing, working in the prison kitchen, and sharing with his fellow inmates the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Roy’s greatest comfort was found in believing that God looked at him with a different set of eyes whereas nearly everyone else in the world merely sees him as a “convict”, our Lord declares Roy to be a “forgiven sinner” one of his “saints” ”
Frank, Roy,and our Gospel lesson remind us that Saints come in all forms. Saints are stubborn, they are poor, they weep, they hunger, and they might even end up in Jail. Saints come in the form of rowdy middle school boys, they come in the form of an underemployed worker, and they come in the form of all sorts of failed Christians. Saints are those who, like Roy Borges manage to somehow find God during those times of their lives when their circumstances seem devoid of all religious hope. Saints are those who God claims in Baptism to carry out the work of his Gospel upon the Earth.
Earlier this summer, I was tasked with eulogizing my grandmother. What story best describes what it was like to know her?
Some years back, Grandma was living in senior housing. She noticed that she had ants in the kitchen. She doesn’t reach for the Raid; she instead figures that the Ants are hungry. So she proceeds to make a feast for these ants involving all the potato chips and sugar that she had lying around the apartment. My Dad and I eventually show up; it’s like she was running an ant farm in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter where I go or what I do; I will never see more ants in my life. Grandma reacts to the apartment being overtaken by ants as the absolute funniest thing in the world.
But here’s what I can say for certain about Grandma. When I was in Confirmation, I would have skipped class when the opportunity presented itself. Grandma though was always going to see that I left her house and was at Trinity Lutheran at 3:15 P.M. on Wednesday. Despite her numerous quirks, I am convinced that I’m not standing here today without her constant encouragement in the faith.
As we reflect on the faith which brings us here this morning, we are reminded that the most influential saints in our lives aren’t super heroes of the Christian faith like Peter, Paul, Matthew, and John but rather people like my grandmother who have never been afraid of a few kitchen ants roaming.
So as we gather on this day, we remember the Saints of Sychar who have left us in this last year. Those who our savior declared on Easter Sunday that their tombs should not be permanently occupied, rather they are merely awaiting the Reunion of the Saints that is to come on the last day.
Red Nordin: My most vivid memory of Red comes from two winters back. The weather turned nasty on Saturday night. Nearly a foot of snow fell on the ground; the wind was whipping, drifts were happening all over town. I got calls from congregational members with snowplows, saying the weather was too treacherous for them to make it to services. It was the first church service in my life that I believe that no one was going to show up. Red, though, shows up right on time for Choir practice. Even as he struggled walking down the sidewalk. Sixty eighty years ago, Red met the love of his life Pat at the Soo Hotel in Moose Lake. Something immediately struck Pat about Red. Red was always calm, no matter the prognosis of this life. This was tested for Red many times over the years. The great hope that Red drew from his Christian faith that no matter which obstacle life throws our way, Red believed that his savior would never abandon even as Cancer broke down his body.
Dorothy Ives: We will forever remember Dorothy for her sense of style and social grace. This was on display within the area for many years as she ran the Dot Clothing shop. At Sychar, Dorothy took great pride in the social room of the Church because of all the events that it hosted throughout the years. Dorothy’s longest-lasting legacy at the church will be her quilting here at Sychar. Dorothy was a mentor to other quilters. Dorothy’s quilts hang on the walls of our social room and during the upcoming Advent season her Cradle to the Cross design will hang in our sanctuary.
Irene Schlatter: When Irene was in good health, she’d rarely not be in church. Irene had previously been active on the Board of Fellowship and Board of Worship. Irene’s arthritis made it tough for her to get here on Sunday mornings. So I would spend lots of time visiting with Mel and her down on Burk over the last few years of her life. Irene and Mel were married sixty-eight years. Irene and Mel had a unique relationship. Mel said they got along so well because they were both perfectionists for how things should look. What made their relationship so unique as an outsider is they would constantly playfully tease each other with both having huge smiles on their faces.
Frank Antilla: Frank and his wife Berdie are the last two charter members of this congregation. Frank will be remembered for his many passions in life. Frank’s first passion was for his country. You could never find Frank without his World War II veteran hat, having served this country in the Europe and losing his hearing in one ear in the process. Frank was passionate about photography; he was a passionate athlete competing in five Grandma’s marathons and six Birkebeiners. Frank was passionate about his family, even running a gift shop with his wife Berdie for many years. Frank was passionate about his faith. The first time I went to visit Frank, he shocked me when he pulled out a Book of Sermons that he had collected over the years. Whenever a preacher had said something that struck Frank, he would go home and write it in the book to reference later.
Jim Northagen: We will remember Jim for his numerous years serving the community working as a police officer for Beaver Bay, Lake County, and finally Silver Bay, along with helping multiple people with carpentry projects serving as a mentor to other builders within our community.
Ron Larson: I’ll forever remember Ron for his sense of humor. A visit with Ron would be one joke after another of various degrees of appropriateness. Ron leaves this world behind with one of the greatest legacy that a Saint can have in seeking to continually bring a smile to the face of others.
Julie Marquardt: Julie was a long-time cook at the Café, where she worked alongside Sychar member Deb Johnson. What impressed Deb most of all about Julie was that her house was always an open the door to friends and family. My greatest memory of Julie was her devotion as a caregiver to her husband, Gordy. Julie did everything she could to the point of physical exhaustion to keep Gordy home as long as possible. When Gordy was down at the Veterans Home, she’d go down three times a day to help keep him company.
Peg Johnson: Peg loved to visit, and I can still hear Peg’s distinct laugh. I could never forget Peg’s laugh. Whenever Peg was at church, working in the kitchen. I couldn’t help but be amazed at the intensity in which she worked. But Peg’s most significant legacy is how nearly every conversation that she had with those around her would circle back to how grateful that she was to have her daughter-in-law Wendy in the family and how proud she was of her son John and grandchildren: Craig, Kelsie, and Amanda.
Frank Moschet: My last visit with Frank took place about a week before he died. Frank’s mind was still amazing recalling details about the church’s architecture plans drawn up by Armstrong/Slicthing out of Minneapolis. Frank gave back to the worship life of the congregation in many ways from the baptismal banner bought by him and Ardelle Orvik after their daughters deaths.
“I have called you by name. You are mine.”-Isaiah 43:1
Frank’s contributions went beyond this banner.
Frank looked forward to trying to set up a Christmas tree with Fred Mismash every year at Sychar. The one thing that you never wanted to argue with Frank about was how the sanctuary should be decorated for Christmas. In his last months, Frank would still get on me about not holding the communion cup emphatically enough for his liking. After hearing Frank out, I would give him communion to which he always had tears in his eyes as he awaited the Reunion of the Saints that is to come with his beloved Shirley.
Doreen Larson: What I will forever remember about Doreen is her sense of selflessness. Every year, Mission Circle would have a Christmas party. Doreen would always see to it that my meal was always paid. I remember one year, telling Doreen that she didn’t have to do that. Doreen looked at me before declaring: “I’m sorry, I can’t give you more.” I was embarrassed, but this was just Doreen’s nature. Whenever I would go see Doreen at the Two Harbors nursing home, the conversation never centered on her various ailments, the conversation always centered around Doreen asking about others from her grandchildren’s sporting events to the Mission Circle ladies, to Reynold and Margaret, or anyone else whom she was thinking about on that day.
Doreen, like others, could also be set in her ways, but God still used her in numerous ways throughout our congregation (Wedding planner, Mission Circle) and community such as the community closet dispersing medical supplies to those in need. Doreen reminds us how people of whom we heard the Saints of Sychar come indeed in all forms: tall, short, young, old, model citizens, rebellious, responsible, irresponsible, forgiven, redeemed, inheritors of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Amen
 Stier, Leon. “Mutts.” Email Mediatations. 15.Oct.2019. Web. Oct.29.2019.
 “Roy A Borges-029381” Flordia DOC Felony Records. Found on hireexfelon.com. Web. Oct.29.2019.
 Stier, Leon. “Mutts.” Email Mediatations.
 Stier, Leon. “Mutts.” Email Mediatations.
 Luke 6:20-31.
 Ephesians 2:18-20.
 Stier, Leon. “Believing in the Communion of Saints (a).” Email Mediatations. 20.Sept.2015. Web. Oct.29.2019.
 Graham, Joan Claire. Sychar Remembers 60 Years. Graham Megyeri Books. Albert Lea, MN. 2013. Print. Pg.29.
 Graham, Joan Claire. Sychar Remembers 60 Years. Graham Megyeri Books. Page 50.