All Saints’ Day (C)
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:1-12
Peace be unto you from our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Rejoice and be glad!” It is what we just sang, but more importantly, it is what our Lord just said in our Gospel lesson and quite frankly, is echoed throughout Holy Scripture.
“Rejoice and be glad!” Now… this minute… this hour… this day… everyday of your life. From the moment of your birth… certainly your “second birth” in the waters of Holy Baptism… and on… infinitum.
Since then… until now… and forevermore… rejoice and be glad. Whether you know it or not… believe it or not… you have every reason to and not one single, solitary reason not to. Even if you have gone through the worst… are now going through the worst… it cannot stop you… it should not stop you from rejoicing and being glad.
Those of you who may be saying “I’m trying to get there” … to a happy place, a joyful and content place… please know that reaching the same… this state of heart and mind, body and soul is not yours to get to. Rather, it is where you are divinely taken to… graciously, mercifully taken to.
True rejoicing… true happiness and gladness is something that comes to you and me from outside of ourselves. It is not of our doing. It is not our work, but God’s work… His Holy Spirit working mightily in us, constantly in us, by means of Word and Sacrament.
In God’s Word, we are told to rejoice and be glad because we are shown all of the divine reasons to do so… be so … at peace that is, happy and content.
And it is all because of Jesus Christ… all because of His love for us… His willingness to enter into this sin-stenched and stinking world of ours… His willingness to suffer the greatest of humiliation and pain… His willingness to offer Himself up… His precious body and blood… as the only possible, only perfect and acceptable ransom for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
As odd as it seems to the world and all the people who still sit in the darkness of sin, including many family members, friends and acquaintances… we look at Christ on the cross and we cannot help but rejoice… we cannot help but weep for joy.
We are truly glad… glad for the forgiveness that is ours… that Christ procured for us… the complete washing away of our sins… glad for the freedom we have from the power and influence of the devil, this world and our own weak bodies and minds… glad for the victory that is ours over the grave… glad that we are most certainly on a course that leads to heaven, the beauty and joy of which we can scarcely imagine… but it nevertheless awaits us.
What is also a total enigma to the world is the gladness and rejoicing that is ours throughout our life here on earth… throughout our journey through this wilderness fraught with peril and pain, suffering and sadness.
My fellow saints, more and more by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we come to know and understand what our Lord Jesus Christ said and meant on that mount when:
“He opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“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, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Consider this… all of you dear saints in Christ… as you live out the Christian faith, the Christian life… there is never a moment, never a situation when you are not blessed.
Even in the midst of tragedy, calamity, persecution, illness, injury, loss, sadness, mourning, disappointment… we are blessed.
Do we not realize how special we are? And I am not talking about when “Mom said we were special.” I am talking about your Father, God the Father saying the same to you… to me.
In Christ our Savior, we are His beloved children, His sainted loved ones… His elect… to whom He has given His kingdom… all His treasures… all His love… all His blessings.
We are my friends… each and every one of us… the “Truly Blessed.” Let that sink in. Consider it. Rejoice in it. Live in it.
Don’t be fooled by how things may be right now… how difficult it might be and will be even more so in the future. Don’t be dismayed by what you face as a Christian… as God’s precious child.
Instead, rejoice and be glad. Blessed are you. Holy are you. Yours is the Kingdom of God. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“The Truly Blessed”
11/6/16 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL