"Sacred Cookies and Creaky Stairs" by Pastor A.J. Houseman
Read John 11:32-44
Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead as they call it in Latino cultures. All Saints Day, we say. They day where we celebrate our ancestors and give thanks for the family and friends who have gone before us.
Many cultures have different traditions for this day, but one thing that unites us, is that we all celebrate and give thanks for these saints.
We have traditions and memories that keep them alive for us. Things we pass from generation to generation. Or just memories that can always make us smile. That creak in the 3rd stair that grandpa said he was going to fix and never did. Now you think of him every time you are there.
One of Carley’s (my wife’s) great grandmother’s name is Leora Loomis. And she has this famous cookie recipe in their family. “Grandma Loomie Cookies” they are called.
See the thing about this famous family cookie recipe, it’s a family secret. No outsider can make these cookies, trust me, many have tried.
See Grandma Loomie was a school cook so the written recipe is to make enough or a school, so you have to do the math to cut it down. AND THEN some of the ingredients shown, are not actually the ingredients you use… you just have to know the substitutes.
Why don’t they just write down the recipe correctly? Idk. Tradition, maybe, or to keep it a secret. Or to honor this saint in their family. At every holiday, every gathering, she is present in these cookies.
Each of us today has someone we remember, we honor with all the saints. Someone that we cherish and keep close with these traditions and memories.
And the real truth to this day, it can be someone painful as we continue to grieve for the ones we have lost.
In our gospel lesson for today, even Jesus grieves. His dear friend has died. The Son of Man, our God manifested on this Earth, weeps for his loss.
This miracle is different, it’s one that he does not because someone came to him, not just to show the glory of God, but he does this because he wants his friend back.
Most of the story isn’t about the actual miracle, it’s about the pain around losing someone. Only 2 verses of the whole story are the miracle.
Each of us today come and honor our saints, come and pray and lift them up, have our memories flooded to the surface, we are reminded of the ones we hold dear. And we long for what Jesus wanted, to have his friend back.
That is a very real thing that many of us sit with on this day, and I want to name that. We also all come with hope to this table. For those saints and ourselves.
At the end of our funeral liturgy, at the graveside right before we lay someone to rest, the pastor (priest) says: In a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God or sister or brother.
This is why we are here today to lift up these saints, in the sure and certain hope in the gift that Jesus gave Lazarus and through his own death and resurrection gave to us all. The gift of being reunited in the resurrection that is to come.
None of us may quite understand this, but that is the thing about hope isn’t it? You don’t have to understand to have faith in the promise, to trust in it. Because we trust God.
We commend our selves, our family, and all of our saints to the creator of the universe, the love of God that is so great that God came to earth in Jesus, and in the promise that Jesus gave us with his own life.
In a sure and certain hope of the resurrection, we come today to remember our commitment to God, honor the legacy these saints have left for us, and give thanks for cookies and creaky stairs and the memories that have helped shape us through them. Thanks be to God for these saints. Amen.