November 3, 2019 – All Saints’ Sunday
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Blessed All Saints’ Sunday.
For 1,646 years
Christianity has celebrated with great respect
The memory and legacy of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ
Whose mortal life is ended, and
Whose eternal life with God and all the saints
has been confirmed.
All Saints’ Day,
The First of November,
Was first recognized by St. Ephrem in 373 A.D.
Due to the fact that so many Christians were being persecuted and martyred,
It became impossible for each Saint
to be given a unique day in a calendar year.
In time, November 1st
became the day we collectively recognize all the saints.
(By the way)
Halloween, was named from the Old English combination of
Hallow, meaning saint, and
Een, or eve, meaning the day prior to the celebration of the saint.
Secular ghouls and ghosts of the imagination soon followed.
All Saints’ Day is a holy day John Wesley loved.
“All Saints Day revolves around,” Wesley said,
“giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints”, including those who are “famous or obscure”.”
(Iovino, Joe (28 October 2015). “All Saints Day: A holy day John Wesley loved”. The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 20 October 2016.)
A saint is anyone in heaven,
Who collectively forms a “great cloud of witnesses”
Surrounding us, here on earth.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reads,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The line between heaven and earth is very thin.
Saints are not perfect people.
They were sinners who ran a mortal race,
striving for perfection,
looking to Jesus.
Saints were people
Just like you and me.
The words and actions of saints serve as a witness to each of us:
This is the Christ I follow!
These are the mistakes I made!
Learn from these mistakes!
Grow closer to Jesus!
Grow more disciples following Jesus!
Expand! Expand! Expand!
I appreciate the distinction that
saints are perfected sinners,
This contrast gives emphasis to Luke’s unique narrative of Jesus’ Beatitudes.
Blessed are … and
Woe to you.
Woe to you, mere mortals,
Inhabitants of aging, aching bodies!
Woe, or “ouai” in the Greek
– pronounced oo-ah-ee –
Is an emotional word, such as Yikes! Or Look Out!
Contrast woe with blessed,
As saints lifted into eternal glory!
Blessed, or “Makarios” in the Greek
– pronounced mak-ar-ee-os –
Means God’s benefits are extended to the one being blessed.
Salvation is God’s benefit extended to saints in heaven.
Jesus is teaching
God’s benefit of eternal life is gifted to
The poor, hungry, those who weep and mourn.
The Lord’s salvation is given to those
Who are hated, reviled, and defamed
Simply because the faith of their mortal life was defined by following Jesus.
Look out, you who are rich! Jesus is saying.
When your mortal life ends, you’re going to become poor.
You can’t take anything with you.
You who went back to the buffet for seconds and are so stuffed you need to loosen your belt?
Yikes! Jesus is saying. Death is going to bring a hunger that can’t be satisfied.
Look out! Those whose party never seems to end.
It’s coming to an end.
Time is running out.
Living on the path of discipleship leading to sainthood,
Means we love our enemies.
Bless those who curse you, and
Pray for those who abuse you.
What will your obituary say?
How will your eulogy read?
What will be your legacy?
Will people say,
He was the most loving person?
Or, she was a blessing to all her neighbors, near and far?
Or, he was always praying; at the drop of a hat, he’d hold your hand and start praying?
Riding this mortal train to glory,
Means we don’t respond when insulted.
We just don’t.
We don’t retaliate when robbed.
We give to every beggar, knowing full well that
one or more don’t need our charity and will abuse our gift.
without the expectation that
what we lent
will ever be returned.
Making our way through life is a journey leading to Jesus.
Closing in on eternity and sainthood means
We live according to Christ’s Golden Rule:
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (6:26)
This is what Jesus taught;
This is how we are to behave.
This is the blessing,
Of All Saints’ Sunday.
Make it your legacy, too.
Thanks be to God.