Matthew 5:1-12 and Revelation 7:9-17
November 1, 2020 – All Saint’s Sunday
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The Christian calendar always recognizes
The first day of November as All Saint’s Day.
This is a day to pause and remember our Christian loved ones,
Who have left this mortal life,
And who now benefit from the gift of eternal life
In the presence of God.
Few anticipated salvation and eternal life more than John of Patmos,
The author of the apocalyptic book of Revelation.
Revelation is the last book of the Bible.
John of Patmos, like other late first century Christians,
Suffered persecution, tribulation, exile, and martyrdom
During the Roman rule of Domitian, from 81 to 96 AD.
John was exiled by Rome to an island in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece.
On this island, named Patmos,
John experienced visions from God about the future-
Death, divine judgment, and eternal life.
His colorful descriptions of these visions
Paint a heaven with the Lord upon the throne,
Surrounded by every saint
Ever to live, and die, and be resurrected into eternal life.
John describes the cloud of saints as
Those “who have come out of the great ordeal.”
Indeed, life is a great ordeal.
Beginning with the miracle of conception,
Life is given and guided by the hand of our Divine Creator,
The same author of the universe,
The one who makes each of us in his own image.
God is at the wheel and
We are along for the ride.
And what a ride it is!
Each of us have very different life trajectories,
Yet, there are some events and ideals that all Christians hold in common.
1. Every disciple of Jesus Christ
Has first been chosen by almighty God
To come to the baptismal waters
And become united in baptism.
By our common baptism we are united
With every Christian who has come before us,
With every Christian now living, and
With every future Christian God will be calling to the water.
Baptism unites us,
Levels the playing field,
And forever marks us
Undeniably as Jesus’ own.
Remember the baptism of your loved ones.
Remember your baptism.
And be thankful.
2. To live is to stand with both feet firmly planted on this earth.
All Christians share the fact that we were, or are, human.
We are united by our hunger and our thirst.
We are united by scorching heat and blowing snow.
We are united by our love and our grief,
Evident by the tears in our eyes.
Jesus leads us to the springs of the water of life.
Living according to the will of God
Is living a life that is blessed.
Blessed doesn’t mean charmed or privileged.
To receive God’s blessing means that God approves
Of righteous effort and behavior.
His Son assures us in his Sermon on the Mount,
Of those who are poor in spirit.
God approves of those who mourn.
God approves of the meek.
God approves of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
God approves of those who are merciful, pure in heart, and who work for peace.
God approves for those chose to follow God
When it would be easier not to,
And as a result, end up on the receiving end of persecution.
Christians are united by God’s blessings and grace,
Not only in God’s present approval,
But also in God’s future promise.
Those who live in God’s present approval
Are promised the kingdom of heaven,
Are promised God’s comfort,
Are promised to inherit the earth.
Those who are blessed today
Will be filled tomorrow.
Those who grant mercy
Will receive God’s mercy.
Those whom God approves will see God’s face,
Will be forever called and known as God’s own children,
And will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Results in eternal grace.
Remember how God has blessed our beloved saints,
Whom we remember this day.
Rest assured God’s promise is fulfilled.
Give thanks for God’s blessings in your life
And look forward to receiving His future promise.
3. Every disciple of Jesus Christ
Endures the fury of temptation to violate God’s laws and will.
John of Patmos writes
“These are they
who have come out of the great ordeal;
They have washed their robes
and made them white
In the blood of the Lamb.”
The saints we remember today
We share with them and with each other the Devil’s fire,
Attempting to navigate this mortal life through Daniel’s furnace,
Walking the valley in the shadow of death.
As we are united by our temptation and sin,
So, too are we united by our Lord’s grace;
Through his crucifixion.
We ask John, “How can blood wash clean a white robe?”
When that blood is Jesus’ own blood
And we stand in the soiled robe of sin.
We are unified in our petition to be cleansed.
And we are united in God’s mercy and grace
With the gift that Jesus gives to each of us.
By his death,
We are washed clean.
Remember no more
The sins of those who have now died in the Lord.
Forget their trials, temptations, and sins.
Jesus has; and so, too, should we.
Confess the name of Jesus.
Claim him as your Lord and Savior.
And receive the forgiveness of your every sin.
4. Lastly, every disciple of Christ
Living in this kingdom
Can expect to be united with every other disciple
Living in the heavenly kingdom,
Standing before the throne
Worshipping God, singing
Blessings and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving
And honor and power and might
Be to our God
Forever and ever!
We will join with our beloved saints who have preceded us
In God’s eternal kingdom.
Jesus assures us that he’s prepared our place.
He’s given us his Holy Spirit to guide us there.
And Jesus has promised us
That we will be united with his saints around the throne.
There will be no sin,
No broken relationships;
Because each of us will be standing in a span clean robe,
Wesley called this perfection.
John calls this God’s heavenly banquet.
Jesus promised us that he is looking forward to greeting each of us,
Soon face to face.
Hold tight to the memories our saints have given us;
Especially their witness and strength of faith.
Allow God to use these memories to guide and direct
Our own journey through this great ordeal.
Give thanks to God
For sharing with us for a time our beloved saints.
Give thanks to God for receiving each of them home.
And give thanks to God for our promise,
That one day,
We, too, will be welcomed home.