November 5, 2017

As we look around our church today, we are surrounded by the pictures of loved ones who have joined the church triumphant.   Most of the people in the pictures more than likely worshipped at Trinity, and although we believe that Jesus is the church’s one foundation,   the church requires the cement of people’s faith to continue to build up the Body of Christ.  Our beloved saints invested time, energy, sweat, and made quiet financial sacrifices so that the small church on Main Street would one day be the edifice that we are privileged to worship in today.

Our acknowledgement of the church triumphant links us to the beatitudes because each saint was touched by all of them at some point in their faith journey.  The Beatitudes focus on being  blessed, and Jesus began his sermon by nine times declaring his disciples blessed because of what God had in store for them.  Jesus wasn’t asking anything from them at the time,    because His sole purpose was to describe the blessings that they would fully enjoy in the new heaven and the new earth.

We are blessed by being poor in spirit, because poor in spirit basically means Christ can   and I can’t.  Dependence on God is a blessing as it leaves lots of room for our trust in God to grow.  God is always present, and thanks be to God, we are always in a state of arriving.

In today’s high tech…. faster than yesterday kind of world, you may find that meekness and humility won’t get you on the fast track to success.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how old you are or where you work, bullies have a way of making that a reality.  Some are subtle in their approach while others are intimidating and in the end someone gains more self esteem, while another feels not good enough.  Whether you’re in grade school, high school, college or the business world, remember that Jesus was meek too and He triumphed over the biggest bully…..Satan himself.  

Christ’s triumph over death makes this feast of All Saints a perfect time to remember that the saints in Light stand justified before God because Christ traded His righteousness to take on our sin.  To hunger and thirst for righteousness means that we have a hunger to be with God.  Luther writes, “We have the clear assurance that God does not cast aside sinners, that is, those who recognize their sin and desire to come to their senses, for they are the people thirsting for righteousness.”

One who has experienced the mercy of God can certainly appreciate the freedom that comes along with it, but that freedom comes with a challenge.  Forgiving someone that has in some way left a scar feels impossible at time.  Physical wounds heal from the inside out and so must the wounds imposed on us emotionally, psychologically or spiritually.  I mention spiritually because there are people who continue to suffer silently because someone that they trusted with their soul….took away their spirit.    Mercy is one of God’s greatest gifts to us and it’s imperative for us to remember that Christ wants us to be healed and made whole so not allow the scars.. to shine brighter than the grace… that can free you from their grip.

Blessed are the merciful and from that mercy flows the blessing of having a pure heart – one that despite all the temptations to breed discontent,…sows seeds of good will instead.  

In Psalm24 we hear:  Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  And who shall stand in His holy place?  The person who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.  He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  

Fostering a merciful spirit and a pure heart enables one to be a peace maker and our community, city, state, country and world are starving for peace.  Today we will receive Jesus, the peace maker. Oh to become what the grace through that sacrament can make us.

Are you mourning the loss of someone that you love today?  Does being here with others who are experiencing pain similar to yours give you comfort?  Whether you’re grieving the loss of a spouse, sibling, partner or friend, your heart to some degree has been broken.  For some of you the loss of a loved one may have been years ago.  For others, it could have been more recent.  No matter the time, loss is loss.  

All of us are familiar with the bottomless pit of pain that occurs when we realize that life as we knew it has changed forever.  Grieving takes the wind out of your sails and unfortunately its side effects spill over into one’s daily routine.  My personal experiences with the side effects of grief have been memory loss (temporarily) and confusion.  I’ve often felt like I was walking around with a head full of cotton and driving with a head full of cotton is a tad dangerous.  Red lights gave me an opportunity to pause so while pausing I’ve often found myself recalling a memory or two until I’m blown out of the water because someone beeped their horn when the light turned green.  REALLY!  I’ve often said that I want to get bumper stickers made that say, please be patient, I’m grieving. Granted, I wouldn’t leave the sticker on forever because I think that the intensity of grief changes over a period of time and the ability to concentrate comes back.

The year 2017 will be coming to an end soon and calendars all over the world will be replaced but wouldn’t be wonderful if negative attitudes and behaviors were replaced too.  With all of the weather related events, war, death by truck and shootings, thousands of people have been catapulted into untimely grief.  So, blessed are those who mourn…..really?  How about, blessed are those who are comforted while mourning.  Comfort is one of the branches on Jesus the vine and from that vine we receive the strength to survive spiritually and emotionally.  As followers of Christ we must comfort and support any of the branches that are on the verge of drying up or worse giving up when the winter winds of grief threaten one’s faith.

Today, let’s give thanks for the knowledge to know that we are poor in spirit because that draws us to God………. We need to be meek and humble so as to be pure in heart…….  Mercy stems from purity and peace is the gift that we receive……………

 The saints in light know this to be true and we the saints on earth, will one day see it too.

Amen.