Monday, November 04, 2013

Sermon for 11/3/13--The Feast of All Saints (observed)

No audio this week. I forgot to turn on the recorder. Sorry!

Christ in You

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Sinners struggle. Sin penetrates every part of a sinner’s life. If you look at the list of Beatitudes, you don’t see a list of attributes in which sinners thrive. Sinners do not see themselves as poor in spirit. In the idolatry of their own hearts; they are rich. They do not mourn their sin, and they are not meek. Instead, they are bold in their sinfulness. They do not hunger for righteousness, thinking they have already attained it. They are not merciful; they hold grudges. The list goes on. The heart of the sinner is blackened and riddled with sin, and what little honesty the sinner can muster can only whisper in the silence of that heart that the Beatitudes are beyond the sinner’s reach.

I’ve told you before that the Beatitudes describe Jesus. This is most certainly true. But the Beatitudes are also descriptions of the saints. They describe you. They describe you and all the saints because they first describe Jesus. You have been baptized into Christ; that makes you a saint. And what is this life as a saint of God? As one who is in Jesus Christ? It is nothing like the world’s way of living. In fact, Jesus makes clear that to be blessed by God means to be hated and suffer in this world. It can’t be any other way for Jesus’ disciples. That’s why you are here today. You are here because the Lord has made you saints. He has made you holy by forgiving you your sins, by purging that blackened heart of yours with His own blood. Nothing stains you. You wear the white robe of Christ’s righteousness that was put upon you in Holy Baptism. You are sprinkled white by the blood of the Lamb. You are here because the Lord has made a promise to you that after this life of suffering and sadness, He will return and raise you up for an eternal life of joy and celebration in paradise. That’s a hard promise to believe. So on All Saints Day we remember that Jesus has fulfilled that promise to so many others who have gone before us. As the hymn reminds us: “We feebly struggle, they in glory shine!”

To see your life as a Christian, just look at Christ. He was hated by His own people and put to death. Then He rose to life and ascended to the majesty of the Father’s right hand. So it is with you. The world will hate you. The world will laugh at you for your faith. In many places it will kill you for confessing your faith in Christ. That’s what you have to look forward to as a Christian in this dying world. But we also look forward to resurrection, to being alive on the Last Day. Behold that multitude in Revelation: a crowd so big you can’t count it! They are with Jesus forever. Their every tear has been wiped away. That is the life that Jesus has won for you. His suffering and death was not just for show. It takes away your sins. It washes you in His blood so that you are safe from this world and the hatred it has to offer. It makes you poor in spirit, merciful, a peacemaker, and all the other things Jesus describes to His disciples. Today, you are His saints. At the resurrection you will be His eternal saints. What changes between this life and the life to come is that you go from temporary sorrow to everlasting joy. What doesn’t change between this life and the life to come is that you are a saint in Christ.

And this is nothing new. It’s what the Lord has been doing since man first fell and God gave His first promise of a Savior. He fulfilled the promise to Adam and Eve, to Abel, to Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to David and Solomon, to Isaiah and Jeremiah and all those Old Testament saints. He delivered salvation to Peter, James, and John and the apostles, to Athanasius and Augustine, to Luther and Chemnitz, to your grandparents and parents, and even to our sons and daughters and those who have been given the fulfillment of eternal life before we have. But this gift is for you too: this gift of eternal life fulfilled, the day of rejoicing when all the tears are wiped away.

When you doubt, when your hopes fade and the world around you wears you down, cling to your Baptism. Cling to the word of holy absolution. Cling to the body and blood of Jesus and His promise to raise you on the Last Day. And as you cling to those gifts of Jesus, hear the words of the liturgy, the words that remind us of our place among “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven,” that is, the saints who have gone before us by faith. Today we rejoice for all the saints: the saints who have come before us and are now at rest; the saints you are now, saints who struggle in this life and walk by faith; and the saints who will come after us who will also be saints only in and because of Jesus. In the end, this Feast of All Saints must be about Jesus, for He is the One who made you His saints, holy for life everlasting. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.        

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

No comments: