Sermon Notes for November 6, 2011

All Saints Sunday Readings (from November 1)

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

 

  • I read one time that John Wesley mentioned All Saints Day in his journals more frequently than any other feast day in the church.  In most of those entries he mentions celebrating the eucharist, and he mentions the names of those who had died but still resided in his memory.  I I think that is as fitting a way to celebrate on this Sunday as there is.  Most of us don’t serve in churches that would celebrate the Feast Day on Tuesday, so this is the next best day.  These scriptures show up every year for the Feast of All Saints, and i never tire hearing them, and enjoyed preaching them every year int he parish.
  • I especially like the collect for the day, this is found in both the BCP and in the UM Book of Worship: Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. 
  • The first reading is from The Revelation, which gives you an idea that this is not an ordinary Sunday.  This is theology cloaked in a hymn of the ultimate triumph of God in the midst of a world of darkness.  These verses are used in a number of famous works of church composers.  Some of the hymns you might choose for the day will rely on this theme of the saints of God: For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
  • The Psalm of the day is a great compliment to the first reading:  Benedicam Dominum– Psalm 34.  It too is worthy of singing on this day.  Notice the same theme of triumph in the midst of darkness, blessing the Lord at all times, even in the midst of affliction.  It mentions the “saints” and “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  What a fitting invitation to the communion table.
  • The Epistle is a short lesson, but quite to the point: See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. This is a picture of what it means to be a “saint”-“a holy one of God.”  We are God’s children now, but what we will be is still in process–the process of being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
  • The Beatitudes are some of the most poetic words in the New Testament, and they are Jesus’ description of what it means to be “blessed” (in Latin: beatus)  Jesus’ original words were probably Aramaic and the form that would have been used would be akin to the Hebrew word baruch.  This is the same word that is used in the numerous blessings that are given at the Sabbath meal in Jewish households to this day.  “Blessed are you”–“Holy are you”.  See again the link to the eucharistic table?  The proclamation of blessings by Jesus on those who live the kingdom life are quite descriptive.
  • I am reminded from my year of Hebrew that the root baruch- to bless – is not to be taken lightly.  It is one of those words that carries deep meaning.  To bless something is to give it a sacred meaning.  To bless a meal is to say that what you are doing is a holy thing.  To bless a person, means that God’s holiness is to penetrate their very core and to make them holy. Jesus is not playing around when he pronounces-“Blessed are you…”
  • There is more commentary on the Beatitudes than you can shake a stick at.  I could probably go on for pages summarizing it.  I think it is best to point out a few good resources and let you make your own way:
  • When I preach on All Saints, I make sure to tell stories of those who have walked the path before us…Who are those shining examples of Christ’s light that we can lift up today? Give them a great picture to look at and it will speak thousands of words for time to come.

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