the one about those blessings...
November 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

Sermon from November 6, 2016 - All Saints Sunday

Text: Luke 6: 20-31

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, I’ll tell you what. This is always a difficult text to preach on. It’s a difficult text because it is so abrupt. There’s little room for interpretation, there is no embellishment from Jesus.

Blessed are you who are poor. Blessed are you who are hungry. Blessed are you who weep.

When we hear these words spoken by Jesus, we hope for the version of those blessings that we read in Matthew’s Gospel. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those are the blessings that feel like they are directed at me.

I’ve felt poor in spirit – sometimes struggling to see where God is at work in a world seemingly filled with terribleness. I don’t think I’ve ever been truly poor; not ever having to choose between food or a bill or even between staying home to care for family or work to earn even a meager amount more. I continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness; to shine the light on injustice and to be present with those who suffer at the callous hands of others. I don’t think I’ve ever been truly hungry. I’ve never been placed into a situation in my life where the food that others couldn’t finish would fill me – for a short period. And, I don’t know if I’ve truly wept. I’ve lost friends and family and that pain is real, but looking at what we lift this day – as I look at those candles – I’ve not felt that sort of pain. The pain of losing a spouse, of losing a parent, of losing a child. Even when I weep for them – when I weep for y’all – it isn’t the same. It doesn’t come close.

Jesus lays blessings upon them.

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

After those blessings? We receive woes from our Lord. Woe indeed.

Those are the areas where I feel convicted and punched in the gut by our Lord today.

Woe to you who are rich. I may not be ‘rich’ by some standards, but I am – and I’ll hazard a guess many of y’all – are doing alright. We’re doing pretty good compared to some of our sisters and brothers around the world. Woe to you who are full now. Man, I’ve got food… in fact I have so much food that I can’t eat it all, a lot of it goes to waste. Woe to you who are laughing now. For a glimmer of a moment, there was raucous laughter and rejoicing on Wednesday night as the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Even when you were a curmudgeon and didn’t watch that series out of spite (raise hand), you couldn’t help, but chuckle and smile at that good story 108 years in the making.

What am I – what are we – to do when we see ourselves more in those woes than we do in those blessings?

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t stop right there. Thankfully after these blessings and woes – Jesus continues.

The words of Jesus that we read this morning are important words to hear. They are important words to hold on to. They are important words to live into. Especially, in light of what will transpire this coming Tuesday.

But, Jesus’ words aren’t directed at us to ‘feel better’ because of the way an election shakes out. Jesus’ words and life are given to us to live into and follow all the days of our lives. How true are these words for us to hear and follow every day. When we’re cut off in traffic, when we mourn change in our community, when we battle with what our brain and our emotions tell us…

If only we take Jesus’ heed and listen.

Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Do to others as you would have them to do to you.

Those are the hardest things that Jesus proclaims. It’s so easy to not do those things. It’s so easy to do the opposite of what Jesus calls us into. Jesus invites his disciples – Jesus invites us – to shower radical love, blessing, forgiveness, generosity, and trust even to our enemies and to outsiders.

Living into those words of our Lord just might help us see the humanity and the beautiful face of Christ in each of our sisters and brothers around our community and world. Where we see in each person we encounter the very face of Christ, knowing that they too are blessed, that they too are called, that they too are a brother and a sister. Where we embrace one another as saints in the kingdom of God.

And what we celebrate today is that we don’t do that alone. We don’t struggle alone. We don’t persevere alone. We don’t weep alone. We don’t laugh alone.

We do all of this within the great community of saints. We lift up today – specifically – those who have died this past year, but we continue to lift up this day and all days those who are no longer with us. The community of saints surrounds us this day. Not only those who have come before us and rest fully with our God in their death, but we are surrounded by the saints who fill these pews, who have filled the pews, and who will sit here as well. We are surrounded by those around the world who pray for the Body of Christ, who pray for the kingdom of God.

We do all of this together. We hear blessings, and we hear woes – together. We come to this table and feast on this meal – together. We remember fully this day that no matter what – not one thing separates us from the love of Christ in Jesus our Lord. Not even death.

And sometimes, we have to do that together, because there are days when someone else has to sing on our behalf, pray on our behalf, to hold us up, to move us forward. Within our grief – within our weeping – sometimes we need the help of those around us. And, because we are a community of faith, called together by God, we do that. We do that. We continually remember that in this life of faith it isn’t about me and mine. It is so much more about you and y’all. Making sure those outside of us are cared for, knowing that someone is caring for me as well.

No matter if you hear Jesus laying blessings on you or even hear Jesus’ woes directed your way – Jesus’ call is still to all of us.

Love. Bless. Forgive. Be generous. Trust.

Be radical and abundant in all of that – to everyone. To all the saints – those who have gone before us and those who live this life with us still. Amen.

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