All Saints – Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 5, 2017  

Matthew 5:1-12

Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mat. 5).

We celebrate the festival of All Saints today. Matthew 5 is an appropriate text for the day. As we name and remember those members of our parish who have died in the past year, as we all remember the people in our lives who we have loved that have died, (no matter how long ago), we mourn. We feel sorrow. For some there may be thoughts of regret.

It helps to hear Jesus’ words: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Jesus said “Blessed ARE those who mourn.”

Jesus did not say “Blessed are those who mourned (past tense).

Jesus did not say “Blessed are those who will mourn (Future tense).

Jesus made mourning active: “Blessed ARE those who mourn.”

Blessed are those who, right now, in this moment, mourn.

Any of us actively engaged in mourning, any of us that feel the pain of the losses we have experienced (no matter how long ago or how near in time the loss was)—Jesus tells us we are blessed.

Jesus promises us we will be comforted.

When we begin a funeral service, the first words the pastor speaks are (according to our hymnal) BLESSED BE THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE SOURCE OF ALL MERCY AND THE GOD OF ALL CONSOLATION. GOD COMFORTS US IN ALL OUR SORROWS SO THAT WE CAN COMFORT OTHERS IN THEIR SORROWS WITH THE CONSOLATION WE OURSELVES HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD.

According to our liturgy, there is no question about this. God IS the source of all mercy. God IS the God of all consolation. God comforts us.

On this day we remember the saints. We remember all the saints, those known to us and those unknown to us.

On this day we give time to our mourning, we openly mourn and celebrate the lives of all believers.

Today we lay claim to our grief. If griefs have been set aside, on this day we pick those griefs up, dust them off and re-member them. Rather than burying our feelings about those whom we have buried, today we lift our feelings up, we lift them up to God, asking God for the comfort God has promised us.

If you lift your eyes to the heavens today and ask “from where does my help come?” I’m thinking help isn’t going to shower down on you from above.

Look to your right. Look to your left. Look ahead of you. Look behind. The person or people sitting ahead or behind you, to your right or to your left—that person or those people—they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They stand with you in voice and in prayer. They come with you to this altar, knowing and receiving the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins. Those people may feel strong if you feel weak. That person may be feeling weak where you are strong. These people, they are your community of faith. They are here to offer God’s blessings and comfort—to you.

In confirmation class this past week I asked the question: Why do we believe? I asked “what’s in it for us?” and I asked “What do we have to give?” I was extremely pleased, when I asked “What’s in it for us?” that one of the first responses a student gave was “community.”

Here in this place, in this community of saints, living and dead—we receive God’s blessings and comfort.

Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn.”

Another way of saying it would be to say “Holy are those who mourn.” Be blessed, being holy—both mean you are being “made” sacred as you mourn. We are being made sacred as we mourn.

Our grief becomes holy, in this place.

We don’t all wear our griefs on our sleeves. Midwesterners that we are, we tend to hold our griefs close to us. We carry our grief in our hearts.

The good news is, God sees our griefs, even there. God sees into our hearts. God knows us.

God knows our need to be comforted. God gives us this community of faith to offer that comfort, to hold that comfort out to us.

The person to your left. The person to your right. The person in front of you or behind—he or she might also carry grief. When we share the peace today—God’s peace—know you may be bringing real peace to your neighbor’s life. God’s peace. God’s comfort.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, and with the company of saints we recall and re-member.

Amen.