Sermon Pentecost 21 – All Saints November 3, 2019

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18                Psalm 149                   Ephesians 1:11-23                 Luke 6:20-31

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

            The four Beatitudes or Blessings and the four Woes or Curses have a logical juxtaposition;  poor – rich;  hungry – full;  weeping – laughing;  reviled – lauded.  The four ways to a blessing are poverty, hunger, tears and scorn.  Not an attractive way to get sainthood, the opposite seems much more appealing;  wealth, satisfaction, merriment and praise but those are the very things that raise temptations to Sin, because if all these good things are happening then you must be doing something right and if that’s the case, why not keep on doing them, probably unfortunately making things better for you at the expense of others, but why worry about others ?  That logic is easy, but God’s logic is not ours – conquering the world by means of a tortuous Cross is not my first choice for logical thought.  All those other good things wealth, satisfaction, merriment and praise seem so much better, more logical.  Have you noticed that we tend to give the wealthy, the comfortable, the movie stars, the star quarterbacks, the good looking, and those who are praised by others, a lot of leeway over their behaviour and opinions, hoping maybe that some will rub off, but all it really does is lead us down a troublesome path.  It is far better to struggle against the easy way through poverty, hunger, mourning and criticism because you tend to focus better and weigh things better, which is a Blessing.  When you inhabit the area of the Woes you tend to take care of your own interests first, to make sure that you are ok, first.  But when you are struggling, you realise that you are not alone and that others are in the same predicament and the only thing that will change that is by concerted joint effort.  You have little to protect and nothing to lose if you are among the Blessed.  Now frankly thinking about it a bit more that seems logical after all !

            And Jesus affirms that with His next admonition,  “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.  Kind of, we are all in this together.  And to all those who abuse you in one way or another give them understanding there is something hugely wrong in their lives, so maybe they need a rebuke but they definitely need understanding too.  Isn’t that what you would want ?  Of course it is.  So whichever side of the divide you are on  “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.  It’s simple and I have got a pretty good idea that that will lead on to sainthood. 

            Now I have heard many a time, when a husband dies that he was a bit of an oaf, and that it is said of his wife that she was a saint because of the way she suffered.  Not so !  Nothing was redeemed by her suffering and that is surely a mark of sainthood, redemption.  Her best course of action is not to cower but to stand-up, and if that is not possible, then flee.  Sainthood doesn’t come about through masochism.

            Particularly though the saints we commemorate at All Saints are those who died a martyr’s death, that is they died to save another or to affirm their Faith, and they died not for glory or fame but for the sake of Jesus Christ, to further His Mission here on Earth, and now we share Communion with them in their glory. 

At Halloween we celebrate the Saints of the Reformation.  On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther took a momentous step, he published his ninety-five theses, which were the proximate cause of the Protestant Reformation on the European Continent.  Their publication led to the deaths of thousands of believers both Protestant and Catholic, even in England where the effects of the Continental Reformation spilled over, because of intolerance between Christians.

On November 2 we commemorate All Souls who are the company of the Faithful Departed, those who were not called to sacrifice and martyrdom but remained faithful to the end of their lives.  When you come to Communion you may want to light a candle and remember those members of our parish, our loved ones, family and friends, who have departed this life and who enhanced our Christian way of life by their good works and presence among us.

            Our Challenge as Christians today is to continue their good works and continue in the Faith until our lives’ end.  You might ask what good is sainthood, it’s usually a lot of work here, a lot of sacrifice of things like time, and not doing the other things you like to do.  If that’s the case do those other things, for sainthood your heart has to be in it.  Coming to Church for the sake of appearances, causes resentment, which means you should be doing something else.  God wants willing hands and hearts not a begrudging cold-shoulder.  It’s at this time in our history that the faithful are showing-up and the grudging going elsewhere.  Imagine coming up to the Pearly Gates and showing your points account, your loyalty card, with all sorts of stamps on it and asking for them to be redeemed only to hear that they are worthless because the amount of  ‘you’  you put into getting them was zero.

What a calamity that would be.  So follow the examples of the Saints, put your time and effort into what pleases you.  God would rather welcome an enthusiastic hockey-mom than a tired-out old grouch expecting unjust reward.  When you do stuff do it because you love doing it.  I hope above all hope that you love coming to Church and doing stuff for God for the sheer joy of doing it, because that leads to sainthood even if it means poverty, hunger, tears and scorn from others on the Way.  Amen. �8�0�� ,

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