November 6, 2022

Painting Soul

Passage: I John 4:7-11, Luke 19:1-10, Luke 20:27-38

When Fiona was pregnant with our fourth child, she said “Harry you have to do something about this.”

So, I did. I went out in the garage and started building bunkbeds.

And one day while I was out there building away, my son Ben who was about two and a half came in the garage and stated tugging at my pant leg.

He said “Play with me.”


I tried to explain that I was busy and that he should go and play.


A few minutes later he is back tugging on my pant leg. “Play with me daddy.”

“No Ben, Daddy is doing something important.”


And off he goes. Ten minutes later he is tugging on my pant leg, looking into at me with big brown eyes. Ben was cute as a baby and a toddler. Well to tell you the truth he still is cute. In fact, he won the most beautiful baby at the Arthur Fall Fair.


And here he is looking up at me with pleading in his eyes.

“Play with me.”

And I think I was just about to quote W.C. Fields. “Go away kid, you’re bothering me.”

When all of a sudden time stands still and a hand reaches out and grabs me by the scruff of my neck and lifts me off the floor and through the roof of the garage and into the sky and out into outer space.

I guess it’s my story, I can do what I want with it…

And this hand keeps me going out into the farther reaches of outer space.

And it is all dark.

And I hear a voice.


“Who is it?

Who do you think?

“Is that you God?

“Yes, and I have brought you out here to show you something amazing, something stupendous that will knock your socks off. Are you ready?


And all of a sudden, the whole universe seemed to light up like thousands of bright and gleaming rainbows all intertwined together weaving and moving and gleaming incandescently.


Wow, what is that Lord?


That is your son Ben’s soul and everything you do for him paints another brush mark on his soul.


Suddenly I am back in the garage with my son Ben. “Daddy play with me.”


So instead of building bunk beds that day, I painted soul.


If you could paint your soul, what would it look like?


Imagine I brought out big sheets of newsprint and paints and everybody tried to paint some representation of their soul…

What might yours look like”


Is it bright and colourful, or dark and somber?

Is it orderly and arranged, or a big jumble and messy?


Are there colours that dominate…bold colours… or softer pastels?


And who has painted on your soul?

Who are the people whose brush marks you see?

Parents, siblings friends….enemies?


And what has that done to your soul.

Wounded it, hurt it, healed it…

Made you happy soul, a sad soul, a lively soul, an angry soul, a peaceful soul…


Or something else, or probably a complex combination of all sorts of experiences, feelings, thoughts and memories…


One of the things that thinking about our souls does is help us realize that in some way we are a product of all the people we have interacted with in our life…


The second thing to realize is that the things we do for others, and to others, and with others, or even against others paints upon people’s souls, sometimes in ways we do not understand and see and sometimes more profoundly than we ever could imagine.


And one more thing to think about when we look at our souls is the question that the little story raises.


Are we spending more time building bunkbeds or painting souls?


Where do we really put our time and energy? Are we actually touching lives and putting our love into someone so it paints upon their soul. It seems to me that one of the main foci of the church is the care of souls. Are we painting souls?


Today is a day of remembering. We are celebrating All Saints Sunday, the whole host of people alive and dead, who are alive in Christ, and comprise the body of Christ. We are remembering people in our lives who have gone before us and are a part of us. We are remembering specifically, saints from our congregation of First Church, and naming those who have died since the start of the pandemic.

And as we remember the saints, let us remember that there is a way to live as a blessed one, and that is to bless others as Christ has blessed us. It is to paint soul.


And today we are going to look at two scriptures in particular. The gospel lessons for the last two weeks of the lectionary. The story of Zacchaeus, and the question that the Sadducees pose to Jesus about the women with seven husbands.

These are the stories of two souls, two saints, two people, and how Jesus paints upon their souls.


The first is Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus couldn’t see because he was short and people were tall and they were in the way. But he desperately wanted to see Jesus.

Maybe you can relate to wanting to see Jesus, or hear Jesus, or experience Jesus, or want to be with Jesus, but there is some obstacle, or you think you have some limitation. Or maybe there is a person or persons who block you from being you, and you finding Jesus. Or maybe you have excuses and it your own self that shortchanges you and keeps you from experiencing God.


So, Zacchaeus climbed a tree. Sometimes when there is a problem or an obstacle, or a limitation, you need to find a vantage point, a new perspective, a new angle, a new way of doing or seeing.


And Jesus comes along and looks up at Zacchaeus and calls him by name.

Do you know that God seeks you out. That Jesus not only knows your name, but calls your name. Do you know that you are wanted by God, special to God, cared for by God, and that God wants in. Jesus wants to come inside your soul today.


And Zacchaeus is full of joy to take Jesus home with him. Is that your experience of Jesus? Are you filled with joy to let Jesus into your soul?

Does Jesus’ love, and care, and understanding, and forgiveness and grace make you smile, fill you with delight.

When did Jesus last fill you with joy?

Or when did you allow yourself to be joyful in the presence of God?


And all the bystanders and the crowd grumbled because Zacchaeus was rich and a tax-collector.

Everyone thought that Zacchaeus was bad and evil and a cheat and worthless. He couldn’t get through the crowd, maybe, because they kept him on the outside.


Have you ever made assumptions about another thinking that you knew their heart, just by their outward appearance? Have you ever kept someone from changing into a better self, not allowing them to grow and change and be transformed, because you knew who they were and who they had to be.

Or have you been impeded in your spiritual growth by those who categorized you, labelled you, think they knew you, didn’t care for you, thought you had no worth…?


Amazing how Jesus sees value in people, that we often devalue…. how Jesus sees in the ordinary, the miraculous and the divine…how Jesus sees in you, a treasure of infinite worth.


Jesus goes to the house of Zacchaeus and says that salvation has come to this house, that Zacchaeus is a child of God and that he has come to seek and save the lost.


When were you last lost? When were you last found?


I am amazed by this story of Zacchaeus who is like you and me. An ordinary person who is not perfect, who has trouble seeing Jesus, but who wants to see Jesus, who others misunderstand, whose heart is changed, who is called, loved, found, accepted and proclaimed a child of God.

Jesus paints love all over his soul and our souls too, and it makes us wonder, if we will change perspectives on the way we look at others, and the way we accept others, and the way we treat others. Will we paint Christ on other’s souls and seek and save the lost with love.

And if we are caught hurting others, will we pay them back with four times the love, the understanding, the repentance, and the restitution.

On All Saint’s Sunday it is a good time for Jesus to remind us that there are no ordinary people. That everyone is a son or a daughter or a child of God.


And then some Sadducees come to Jesus and try to trick him with a question. A man marries a woman and he dies and she has no son. So according to Jewish law she marries the next brother, but he dies without a son. So, she marries the next oldest brother, and so on, till she had married seven brothers who all have no sons.

And the question they put to Jesus is this. Whose wife is she in the resurrection of the dead? The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.


And while it is meant to be a kind of a joke, and the Sadducees think that everybody will laugh at Jesus, and while we like to laugh it off ourselves as a stupid first century legalistic kind of thing, that doesn’t have much relevance for us…

Jesus takes it seriously by saying that the Sadducees don’t understand the resurrection, and what the resurrection means at all.

And to tell the truth, maybe we don’t understand the resurrection either. Our own resurrection.


For are we not the ones who were buried with Jesus in baptism? Are we not the ones who died to an old way of life and were born again to a new way of living?     Are we not the ones who die to self and take up a cross?

Are we not ones born of the Spirit of God?

Are we not the ones who have been, in Christ, transformed from death to life?

Are we not the ones in whom Christ lives, in whom Jesus is resurrected?


And while it is tempting to ask all kind of questions about what happens after we die, the bigger question is about how we are to live as the resurrected here and now.


And Jesus thinks of this fictional woman and treats her as a child of God, and says that the resurrected don’t treat a woman as property to be passed around, but the resurrected treat her like an angel.

We should treat each other like angels.


The resurrection means that we don’t judge people or find a person’s worth based on their spouse, or their fertility, or their sex appeal.


The resurrection, your resurrection is not something that happens after you die, but happens now and it is not about believing a bunch of doctrines, or stating hypothetical questions…

It is about actually walking with Jesus and knowing Jesus and treating people like Jesus, and talking to Jesus and seeing Jesus in every person.

The resurrection is the place where women are not treated like property, a realm where no human belongs to another, a place with patriarchy is dead, a place where sex, sexuality, power, status, gender, marriage, kinship no longer bind or restrict God’s children…

…and it doesn’t happen after we die… it happens now. Why? Because Jesus is not dead, and neither are we, and Jesus is the God of the living and is alive, and that is the way Jesus continues to treat people; and the way the resurrected treat people, because Jesus lives in us and we live in Jesus.

Jesus is resurrected in us and we are resurrected in Jesus.


When I was a child in New Brunswick, we used to play this game called kick the can. We played it mostly at Reggie’s farm. It was a good game because you didn’t need to spend a couple of hundred dollars on equipment. Just a can.


It was kind of like hide and seek. One person would be it and the rest would go and hide after the can was kicked.

I had a special place down in the cellar where they kept the wood off in the corner where it was dark.

I could sit there in the corner and even though I wasn’t hiding behind anything it was so dark that nobody could see me sitting there.

Well, this was working out pretty well. They can’t see me. They can’t see me, but after about an hour it really began to dawn on me. Hey, they can‘t find me, so next time someone came down into the cellar, I coughed on purpose.

One, two, three on Harry.


What did I want?     What did I want?


I wanted what everybody wants. I wanted to be found.


Today on All Saints I proclaim that Jesus not only has found Zacchaeus, and a woman with seven husbands, but Jesus has found you and raised you to life, and lives you, so that you can be about the business of painting souls. Amen.