November 5, 2017

All Saints’ Sunday (Baptisms and Episcopal Schools Sunday)

The Rev. David Madison

I am a dyed in the wool Episcopal school guy. Well, wait a minute, who is this strange priest in your pulpit this morning? I’m David Madison, and I serve as the Executive Director the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools. I’ve have consumed every drop of Kool Aid when it comes to our schools

I’m a product of Episcopal schools, I credit the spiritual formation that took place at an Episcopal school as the main reason I recognized a call to the priesthood. I was the bad penny they couldn’t get rid of and after ordination and serving a parish, I ended up back at my old school, All Saints Fort Worth, where I served in ever possible capacity—one year I taught both Kindergarten and 12th grade religion.

 In my current role, I get to speak and preach a lot about Episcopal schools. And I also get to be with different parishes on special events like today. I’m especially excited to be at St. Andrew’s on a day for baptisms—why? To me, there is nothing that explains our schools better than the baptismal covenant. 

People always ask me—what does it mean to be an Episcopal school? The Baptismal Covenant—to me, this is the cornerstone of Episcopal Identity in our schools. Today is All Saints Sunday, and our understanding of what it means to be a saint of God—is contained in the covenant. And the questions asked within the context of that covenant—well, our schools, our faculty and students work through what it means to be a disciple of the teachings of Christ each and every day.

Will you continue in the Apostles teaching and fellowship? Do you think the apostles always agreed on everything? In disagreement, wherever we are on the journey, we maintain fellowship, and join together around the altar in thanks for the myriad ways that we have been blessed. In Episcopal schools, the teacher-student relationship is critical, and quality instruction can’t be separated from relationship and fellowship. 

When you sin, will you repent and return to the Lord? My favorite part of this question? It’s “when,” not “if”—this is a daily occurrence on a school campus.  Students mess up.  Adults mess up.  This is a fact of life. It’s how we respond that is critical.  The caring teachers in our schools are there to pick up the pieces when our students fall short and everyone is stronger as a result.

Proclaiming by word and example, the good news of a Christ—My favorite quote is attributed to St Francis. “Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words.

And the final two questions—these are especially critical to us right now because our students are seeing all sorts of different approaches regarding how to treat people today.  They are seeing approaches from our political leaders, from celebrities, from newsmakers…so of the approaches are good and some are pretty miserable.  Will you seek and serving Christ in all persons? Will you protect the dignity of every human being? Episcopal schools do this each and every day—and now more than ever, our world needs communities that uphold these values—and the future, our future together depends on communities that embrace these values

This is a day for giving thanks. We give thanks for the Saints of God that have touched our lives and have moved on to eternal glory. We give thanks that we will all be reunited in God’s time. We give thanks that we are adding to the multitude of God’s saints today through the sacrament of baptism. We give thanks for the great work taking place at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School under the leadership of Nancy Simpson and her amazing team of talented teachers.  And we give thanks for our Episcopal schools across the country that teach these truths each and every day in a world that desperately needs it.