November 4, 2018

November 6, 2018


Feast of All Saints – Matthew 5:1-12

Today we celebrate and give thanks for the saints of God, those who have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We give thanks for you and for me and all those who have been baptized.

Today we remember and give thanks for David Chalfant, Morley Alpers, Billee Ramthun, Doris Burmeister, and all those saints of Immanuel and Trinity Lutheran, these “Churches In The Country”, who have fought the fight of faith, who have run the race, and now rest from their labors, waiting for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

All saints Day, is a day like all other days, where we give thanks for the faithfulness of God toward us today, tomorrow and every day. Today, we know that God remembers His love toward us, that He is gracious and merciful toward us, He is slow to anger toward us, He is abounding in steadfast love toward us. We are blessed. We are holy. We are re-created in God’s image.

We often think about All Saints Day being just about those who have died in the Lord and are now seated with Jesus at the right hand of the Father, but it is also about right now, those of us who are still on earth, those whom the goodness and mercy of God follow all the days of their life. As St. Paul says, We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is what it means to be blessed, those who participate in and know the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That is not just a future reality, that is right now. You and I are poor in Spirit, right now. You and I listen to Jesus’ words, we are like sheep with their Shepherd, we listen to Him and we follow Him. We gather in His presence, before His altar, and we are blessed. We fear, love and trust in God above all things. We humble ourselves before God in repentance, begging for mercy. As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come”, God’s kingdom comes to us when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here on earth and in heaven.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” That is not just a future reality, that is right now. We sing, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.” We sing, “With angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Thy glorious name, evermore praising Thee and saying”. As we remember our baptism, as we remember and give thanks that God has created in us a clean heart, that He has renewed a right spirit within us, that we are not cast away from His presence, we are comforted. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. This is a present reality as we lie down in green pastures, as we gather before God’s altar and richly receive from His generous hand.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. God will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” The meek are those who seek rest in Christ, those who hear the words of Jesus, “Come unto Me, you weary, and I will give you rest.” And to inherit the earth is to inherit eternal life, to be with God and God with us. That is both a present and future reality. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, both in heaven and on earth. He never leaves us or forgets about us.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Jesus desires to feed us with His body and blood, for forgiveness, life and salvation. He invites us to come forward to eat the Bread of Life and drink the cup of salvation. And we do come, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good toward us, His mercy toward us never ends, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We are satisfied. Our cup runs over. We are not in want.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Our heavenly Father does not look at our sins, nor does He deny anything to us because of them. He is merciful toward us, He does not punish us even though we deserve it. He loves us, even though we do not deserve it. We are not worthy of God’s goodness toward us, but He gives it all to us by grace, because He loves us, and we respond by forgiving and gladly doing good toward those who sin against us. We love our neighbor because God loves us. We show mercy in response to God the Father showing mercy to us.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This sanctuary, where we gather this morning, is heaven on earth. This is the place where God dwells among us. This is the place where God gathers His people that we would see Him face to face. And we do see Him face to face. During Communion, when I hold the chalice and the wafer, and present it to you, for you to see; you see God  face to face. You see God in His presence and His face shines brightly upon you.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” You have been bought with a price. Jesus has purchased and won you from sin, death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood, and with His innocent, bitter suffering and death, that we would be His own and live under Him in HIs kingdom, serving Him with everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. With Jesus, we are sons of God, heirs of heaven.    

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others 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.” The life of a baptized child of God is one of persecution, sorrow and death, but it is also one of joy, reward, and resurrection. As it was with Jesus, who was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, so too are we attacked by the devil, the world and our sinful nature, that unholy trinity. But we are blessed, confident that Jesus has won the war, by His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we are victorious. The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting are ours. Being with God in His kingdom is ours, right now, today, tomorrow and forever. God delivers and keeps us from false belief, despair, shame and other sin.

Just as Jesus is victorious, so too are we. We are victorious, the blessed end is right now. We are graciously taken from this valley of sorrow, right now. We are taken to be with God in heaven, right now. Here, before God’s altar, we get a glimpse of heaven, but it is heaven nonetheless. Here, we see dimly what we will see clearly in heaven, but we still see. What we are doing right now, gathering in God’s presence, being enlightened, sanctified and kept with Jesus in the one true faith is what Dave Chalfant, Morley Alpers, Billee Ramthun, Doris Burmeister, and all those who are blessed in the Lord are doing right now in heaven and on earth. Blessed are we, for ours is the kingdom of heaven. In the name of +Jesus. Amen.