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,
For anyone that’s watched T.V. over the last few months, one thing that you’ve probably noticed is the huge number of political ads. As you’ve probably noticed a majority of these ads, have been negative. For example in the 2012 Presidential election- 79% of challenger Mitt Romney’s ads were negative according to the Wesleyan Media Project. While this number seems quite high, 86% of President Barack Obama’s ads were negative when you factor in super PACs. So no political party has a monopoly on clean, positive campaigns. The same Wesleyan Media Project did a study of 2016 races (President, Governor, Senate, Congress, or even local office whatever else took to the airways at all levels that found that 53% of all political advertising was negative.
Now you talk to people they say to stop with the negative political ads. In 2000, Gallup took a poll whereby 57% of Americans are dissatisfied with the tone and tenor of political campaigns.
So why are there so many negative political ads? Simple, negative ads work regardless of what people tell anonymous strangers on the phone.
Ruth Ann Lariscy gives a good explanation of why such ads work. Consider the following scenario. Imagine this afternoon; two random strangers walk up to you. One pays you a compliment, the other an insult. Which one do you remember longer? You might remember the compliment for an hour, but the insult might stick with you for weeks.
This explains why negative ads are tough to dismiss. For example, if a political candidate has an ad that says “Vote for me because I’m the world’s greatest person.” You would probably just dismiss this ad as self-interest when a politician claims to be a “phony” saint. We’ve been burned by politician’s false promises before. We’ve met plenty of sinners within our life; we often associate politicians with being sinners, so this is why attack ads perk up our ears.
Let me give a spiritual reason why negative ads work. “It’s a lot easier to prove someone is a sinner; then it is to prove someone to be a saint.”
So how should we make sense of all these negative ads as we consider going to the polls on Tuesday?
Let me tell you another story as told by Charles Duhigg. A few years ago, Disney employees were gathering for a screening of a new animated film. The film’s plot goes as follows. A younger sister is about to marry a handsome prince before she can become queen. The older sister is jealous of the marriage and being passed over for the throne, so she plots out her revenge. The bitter sister soon enlists the aid of vicious, snow creatures that turn on everyone including the bitter sister. So the two sisters are forced to join forces before eventually becoming friends. The first test screening of the movie ends and the theater is silent. The movie appears to be a massive bomb.
The studio executives decide that the movie has some good scenes and good stories but the characters fail to connect with the audience in any way. The scene of a good Disney film is tears rather than indifference. The writers realized something about the sisters. One evil sister and one good sister was cliché. Finally one of the screenwriters named Jennifer Lee made the following observation.
“My sister and I fought a lot as kids.” “Pretty soon, we moved to different places and drifted apart”. Then Lee loses her boyfriend in a boating accident. It was at the time of Lee’s greatest need that she finally began to see her sister as a reflection of herself
Lee then makes the following observation:
“If you have two sisters and one of them is the villain and one is a hero, it doesn’t feel real. That doesn’t happen in real life. Siblings don’t grow apart because one is good and one is bad. They grow apart because they’re both messes and then they come together when they realize they need each other.” Sometimes you need to let it go to truly find the road the redemption.
They rewrite the film with the two sisters with very different personality types with their unique pasts working together to bring an end to the perpetual winter afflicting their homeland and to keep the evil prince from claiming the throne. The film was called Frozen. Frozen won an Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature of 2014. Frozen would go on to make more money at the box office than any animated movie ever.
What made Frozen so successful was what it picked up about human nature. How people are both saint and sinner at both the same time. How this applies to politicians with whom you can always find skeletons in the closet along with real life siblings like Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.
Today, we gather to celebrate an important day in the life of our congregation on All Saints Sunday. We consider the meaning of the term “sainthood.”
Mark Tranvik describes working with a pastor who upon completing baptisms within his congregation would introduce the infant as the world’s newest saint. This pastor was on to the true meaning of sainthood.
What proclaiming someone a saint at Baptism reminds us is that we don’t become saints, God rather makes us into saints. Sainthood is not an accomplishment; rather it is an inheritance. The question isn’t whether we deserve to be called “saints,”? The question is rather “How far does God’s mercy extend?” The scriptures answer this question by referring to saints, not as extraordinary individuals who build cathedrals or bring salvation to nations; rather saints are ordinary believers “forgiven sinners” who fight with siblings, who fight over politics, and who cling to their faith for a lifetime without ever really figuring it all out.
As I meditate on the upcoming election, people will claim that certain candidates will either destroy the world or save the world. Every election becomes the most important one ever. As people of faith, no matter what circumstances come before us, we cling to the hope that one day this world will be made whole again by the one who defeated death.
On this day, we come face to face with a power greater than any voting booth or politician. We come face to face with death. We encounter the pain left by the void of those who have left us not only in the past year but also those whose loss still touches us on this day. These people touch our lives in all kinds of different ways. As you picture your stories of grief, Let me talk briefly about each of the saints of Sychar that have left us within the last year.
Yesterday, we remembered the life of Lloyd Houle. Lloyd’s greatest legacy for this community was his work with Governor Perpich on helping to bring the Veterans’ Home to Silver Bay. Lloyd also contributed to the lobbying of getting Cyprus Mining to re-open the plant, the building of Forest Highway 11, along with keeping the North Shore Scenic Railroad Tracks active. We will remember Lloyd finally as a long-time usher at Sychar.
Harold Koepp: Harold was nearly always the first one here every Sunday. As Harold’s wife, Mona was dying; she made him promise to keep going to church. Harold had it as a point of pride that he would be the first one here regardless of the weather because of that promise. Harold was a man of few words. Harold’s silence didn’t mean that Harold didn’t care about people quite deeply. The first thing, Harold did every morning and the last thing he did before going to bed every night was read his Bible (three chapters) and pray. One time, Harold’s grandson walked on him when Harold was praying only to be amazed to hear Harold pray for family, friends, and church family all by their name.
Guss Krake: Guss’s greatest contribution to Sychar was that when Sychar needed a treasurer, Guss stepped up on an interim basis and ended up serving in the position for more than four years. Guss helped this church fulfill one of its most thankless tasks. Guss should especially be commended for this because his background was not in finance, but as a very gifted engineer. Guss and Kathi’s faith background was as Baptists. When Jenalda Ranum invited Kathi and Guss to come worship at Sychar, Kathi was open to the idea. But Kathi told Jenalda that you would never get Guss to go to a Lutheran Church. Guss and Kathi came to Sychar as skeptical visitors, but both served as executive officers of this congregation. Because of this, we will be grateful for the time that they spent in our presence.
Karl Jevning: There are a few different things that I will remember about the Karl Jevning. 1. He loved the farm. Karl loved the saying: “ If you can’t eat it, Don’t grow it.” Karl’s loyalties from his farming days rested with one brand John Deere. Karl refused to cut his lawn with anything else. 2. Karl would always boast of his Norwegian heritage. As I would sit back remembering Jesus’s words “not to judge.” 3. People will remember Karl for the Bible study that He and Fran started that became a gathering spot for believers from every church in Silver Bay.
Bob Kind: Bob’s daughter Gail said it best “Dad loved this town and its people.” As I think of Bob’s greatest legacy as a man, I will think of how Bob helped shepherd this community through some of its most difficult times with the closing of Reserve Mining in 1986.
Bob’s work during these times will inevitability shape us as a people long after not only he is gone, but we are all gone. Bob’s most important legacy to this congregation is that upon the loss of his wife Lois, Bob wanted to see to it that any memorials that were received for Lois’ funeral or eventually his own would go to support our Little Fishes’ Children’s Ministry. Bob wanted to keep giving back to this community and this congregation even in his absence.
Luther Valberg: The son of a Lutheran preacher. The lover of model airplanes. One of the great struggles of the last few years of Luther’s life was never getting to say a proper “goodbye” to Mary Ann. This is a struggle that many people face upon the death of their loved ones. What I would seek to assure Luther is that relationships are not defined by “perfect moments” which are going to be few and far between. Relationships are defined in imperfect moments of human struggle the type of moments that make up the majority of our sinner/saint existences.
Tim Bjella: We will remember Tim for all the music that he helped bring to this community: long-time choral director at William Kelley, founder, and director of the North Shore Men’s Barbershop Chorus and founder of the North Shore Voices. We will remember Tim most at Sychar for the joy that he brought our former Pastor Robin in their eight years together as they served as a tremendous source of comfort in each other’s various ailments.
Elmer “Smoke” Benson: Smoke was an active guy. A boxer and a golfer that people would complain about not being able to beat even into his 90’s. My greatest memory of Smoke is whenever I would visit him at his place on Edison; he would take me into his basement to show me all that he had collected during the war. Smoke would always wear his World War II hat as a point of pride for his service. One of the great memories of the last few years of Smoke’s life was his trip to Washington D.C. on the honor flight to see the memorial dedicated to his fellow soldiers. Smoke’s time in the service forever shaped his life. Your life changes inevitability when you stare the valley of the shadow of death in the eye.
And as we gather to remember the Saints of Sychar on this day, we are comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”-1 Thessalonians 4:13.
For as we leave this place today, we are guided by the greatest of Christian hopes that we do not believe death to be anyone’s final verdict. We are a people of resurrection. We gather today to remember those who raised us in the faith; we remember those who hands we grabbed at the altar, and we remember those with whom we shared laughter and tears. We cling though on this day to the greatest reality of sainthood. Our Savior left this world, to go to his father’s house, and a prepare a place for us. Prepare a place for Harold, Guss, Karl, Bob, Luther, Tim, Smoke, and Lloyd along with all those who have gathered at death’s darkest valley. All sinners from God’s own flock, but saints from Christ’s own redeeming. Amen
 Slack, Donovan. “Rip positive ads in 2012.” Politico. 04. Nov.2012. Web. Oct.30.2016.
 Slack, Donovan. “Rip positive ads in 2012.”
 The following stat is from a research roundup conducted by Harvard Kennedy School: Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy in partnership with Carnegie-Knight Initiative. The following report accessed on October 30,2016 comes from jouranlistresource.org.
 Jordan Brooks, Deborah. “Negative Campaigning Disliked by Most Americans.” Gallup Poll. 17.July.2000. Web. Oct.30.2016.
 Lariscy, Ruthann. “Why negative political ads work.” CNN. 02.Jan.2012. Web. Oct.30.2016.
 Lariscy, Ruthann. “Why negative political ads work.”
 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. Random House. New York.2016. Print. P.205-209, 221-228, 231-235.
 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. P.222.
 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. P.222.
 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. P.222
 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. P.225.
 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. P.235
 Tranvik, Mark. “Commentary on Ephesians 1: 11-23.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 03. Nov.2013. Web. Oct. 30.2016.
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.