All Saints Sunday 2020 San Angelo
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have you ever noticed that the Bible is full of surprises? I have found that the Bible is full of accounts where God’s dealings with human beings often takes strange and odd twists and turns. One thing I have learned over the years is that the Bible often teaches us never to be surprised at what God can and will do in his creation.
For example, one of the first Bible stories I learned as a child that continues to surprise new generations with its surprise ending is the story of David and Goliath. I think most of us know the story well.
A young boy, with five smooth stones, was able to defeat the seasoned giant warrior because he trusted that God would help him win. Today little children’s faces still light up when they are told how God defeated Goliath using a small boy throwing rocks at his opponent. The battle truly was the Lord’s.
Well today’s Gospel text is another reading that has amazed generations with its teachings. Today the Beatitudes continue to surprise people with its teaching. And the reason for this is because the nine blessings that are pronounced in the text do not appear to be blessings at all. Listen again to the nine blessings.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the meek… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Blessed are the merciful… Blessed are the pure in heart… Blessed are the peacemakers… Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake… Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
What is going on here? None of these blessings that Jesus lifted up sound like blessings. Have you ever met someone overcome with joy at a funeral service, or who thanked God when they were depressed or poor in spirit because of all the uncontrollable events that were happening in their lives?
No, I suspect that many who had listened to Jesus speak that day were just as confused as many people are today when they hear these nine blessings.
There is, however, a key to help us understand this teaching that Jesus presented to His disciples high up on that mountaintop. The solution or key is found when we realize that all that Jesus said that day must be heard with our eyes focused upon the coming of God’s reign.
Only in the light of Jesus as the Messiah who inaugurates God’s new age do these blessings make any kind of sense. We need to pay attention to the second clause contained with each blessing. Listen again to these words.
“For theirs is the kingdom of God… for they will be comforted… for they will inherit the earth… for they will be filled… for they will receive mercy… for they will see God… for they will be called children of God… for theirs is the kingdom… Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”
In other words, our present condition is changed because of Gods’ Redeeming Activity, and our lives are transformed to conform with the future God has in store for us.
For that reason we can give God thanks and praise no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in; because God has done good things for us, and we have reaped the rewards.
Today we can take comfort in the fact that because He was meek, we will inherit the earth. We can sleep at night knowing full well that because Christ was pure in heart, we will see God. And we can rejoice in the Good News that because God is gracious and slow to anger, we will be shown mercy.
Yes, the Bible is full of surprises. Because when we use the wisdom of the world, the Bible does not make sense. The world teaches us that only the rich, and the popular, and the self-made man or woman is blessed. Thankfully, the Bible shouts out NO, you are blessed because of what Christ has done for YOU.
And because we are blessed, we can be called Saints. A Saint is someone who has recognized his or her need for God’s grace and who puts their future in the Lord’s hands.
A Saint is a forgiven sinner. And when we stop and think about it, we are all forgiven sinners.
Today we celebrate our sainthood. Today we celebrate that we are part of the Communion of Saints. And today we remember with gratitude the Saints who have gone before us as we hear their names read in our service this morning; for “All Saints Sunday” is truly a celebration of God’s love poured out on each one of us. Amen.
Let us pray: Eternal God, neither death nor life can separate us from your love. Grant that we may serve you faithfully here on earth, and in heaven rejoice with all your Saints who ceaselessly proclaim your glory, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.