Sermon – 11-01-20 – All Saints Sunday – Cycle A
Scriptures: Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Sermon Title: “How Do Saints Become Saints?”
We are each a saint when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
But we can work on our personalities to be especially valuable saints in the kingdom of God on earth. What are these personalities?
We heard these answers in the Gospel Lesson that Dan sang for us. Matthew 5:1-12 has the secret to being pleasing to God. Jesus named the “ways of being” for the crowd. They are called the “Beatitudes.” Various translations of the Bible use various words for each way of being but the meaning is the same. You will notice that for each desirable kind of personality, there is a reward.
One good quality is being poor in spirit. Another is being in the state of mourning and grieving. Another is being meek or humble. One is being merciful. One is being pure in heart. One is being a peacemaker. Then we get two tougher ones. Being persecuted for doing what is right. For example, obeying the speed limit or making tough choices in the work place. We use the phrase, “It is the right thing to do.” But the toughest one is being persecuted for speaking about, and defending, our belief in God.
The idea is that we will be blessed by God for being these ways and we will be rewarded. You may enjoy this modern translation of the Beatitudes. Listen for the rewards.
You’re Blessed (from The Message by Eugene Peterson)
5 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Now these are good ways to be rather than seeking wealth or fame or control over others. But how do we become like this? How can we justify being called a saint?
Let’s look at 1 John 3:1-3. This is the secret. We heard George read this about the 1 John passage. “A saint is one who has been set apart by God for God’s purposes. God, out of divine love, set us apart to be the children of God..” So being God’s children we take on the likeness of God. As we live into being God’s children we find ourselves gradually becoming like Jesus is explaining to the crowd and we look forward to claiming the reward – some now, and some when we find ourselves in the heavenly realm.
Just as we heard in Revelation 7:9-17, this heavenly realm will be a glorious experience – protection, sustenance, comfort will flow from the Lamb on the throne who will be our shepherd. There will be springs of the water of life, but no tears. This is when we can fully and richly sing, “Rejoice, and be glad! Yours is the kingdom of God! Amen