“The Hope to Which Saints are Called”
Ephesians 1:11-23 and Luke 6:20-31
All Saints Sunday, November 6, 2016
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “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. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ.
Our hope is in Christ crucified and risen from the dead.
On this sacred Sunday
We celebrate the saints from our community
Who have died in the Lord this past year
And who now have received the fulfillment of hope;
The forgiveness and absolution of each and every sin,
And, the gift of eternal life.
Jesus Christ is what unites us.
He holds us together.
Our beloved saints
Were baptized by the same water that flowed over the Lord
When he was baptized in the chilly Jordan;
The same water that we were baptized with
Before our own font, or in our own stream or lake.
Our beloved saints lived as sinners,
Much as we do,
Yet, returned to God’s house of prayer often
To seek forgiveness and absolution of sins.
Our beloved saints
Sat in these same pews / chairs,
And experienced the Word proclaimed
That gave the foundation for hope.
Our beloved saints
Gathered around this same altar table,
And celebrated the sacrament of the Eucharist,
Bread and wine,
The Body and Blood of Christ,
Broken and shed for each and every one of us.
Indeed, Jesus Christ is what unites us.
Today, we join with the saints
For the praise of Jesus Christ, and his glory,
As the Apostle Paul so eloquently wrote to the church in Ephesus.
Praise God from whom all blessings fall!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!
Give thanks to Jesus Christ for his inheritance,
His gifts of grace
To each of his disciples.
To know Christ,
To grow deeper in love with Christ,
To develop an understanding of the inheritance Jesus has given to us,
Like the saints before us,
We’ve been given a spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Wisdom and revelation opens the eyes of our hearts
To know the hope to which saints are called.
Allow me for a moment,
To use the Gospel to bring our celebration of saints
Into the context of our current state of affairs.
Wisdom and revelation are in short supply this election cycle.
It appears “truth” has been the first casualty.
There are as many truths as there are news channels on cable television.
Without discernment that leads to God’s revelation,
There can be no truth,
Only half-truths, lies, and damn lies.
Disciples of Jesus, do not despair!
Jesus gives his disciples, you and me, our politics,
If only we choose to listen, to think, and to open our hearts.
The politics of the Christian are not Republican or Democrat,
Liberal or Conservative.
The Spirit has given to us the inheritance of Jesus;
His grace and
His word, the Gospel, becomes our politics.
Today’s word comes from his “Sermon on the Plain.”
With saints who have gone before us,
We are united with Jesus Christ and his Gospel politic.
What say you about the poor?
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God,” Jesus responds.
Wisdom comes when we discern God’s will
To wipe poverty off the face of the earth.
Poverty is the result of greed, theft, embezzlement.
Christ calls us to love our neighbor,
Not to swindle or steal from our neighbors.
Disciples of Jesus are called to teach the world,
By word and example,
How to love our neighbors, especially the poor.
What say you about the hungry?
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Jesus responds.
Like at a restaurant when more friends arrive,
Is not God calling us to add another table?
To pull up more chairs?
Extend the table and add more chairs
Such that everyone who is hungry might be fed.
And, oh yeah, for those who have the means,
Pick up the check for those who don’t.
The weaponizing of food is an ghastly politic
That is contrary to the politic of the Gospel.
There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in the world today,
Either in North Korea or under the Court Street bridge.
It’s up to us, as Christ’s disciples, to ensure everyone is fed.
Saints who have gone before us have tasted death and grief,
For many, numerous times in their lives.
Much of death and grief in our experience
Is at the natural conclusion of the life cycle.
Yet, there is also a secular politic of death
Being played out on battlefields in Mosel and
With civilian refugees fleeing violence.
Grip global adversaries in war, or near war,
Leaving unintended, collateral damage spewing in every direction.
There is even a death politic in American neighborhoods
Where schools fail, crime roams, and neighborhoods crumble.
America cries with death and grief.
The world moans in travail with senseless murder and mayhem.
Yet, know this to be TRUE:
The politics of death have no rule over
Our Savior who triumphs over the grave!
Disciples of Jesus are called to stop the violence,
Stop the murder,
Toheal and restore humanity
Such that every life is valued,
And only natural causes lead one home to eternal glory.
Comfort those who mourn in every circumstance.
God blesses, and calls us to open our hearts to those who weep.
Hold the world tenderly in the loving embrace of Jesus.
Dry the tears with assurance of faith,
Spoken in the language of love.
What say you about enemies?
Certainly saints who have gone before us have tasted hatred,
Just as we have.
Hatred goes both ways;
Hatred that grows from envy or resentment,
Hatred that festers from discrimination or exclusion,
Hatred that is deeply rooted in our history or original sin.
Christ’s Gospel politic
Is a call for every disciple to love your enemies,
To do good to those who hate,
To bless those who curse,
To pray for those who abuse.
This is a far different politic than what is espoused by the world today.
The standards for Jesus’ politics
Are set extraordinarily high.
Many would call them naive;
Bless those who call you naive,
Who hate you,
Who exclude and revile you
And who defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Turn to them, Jesus tells us,
And give them your blessing.
Jesus Christ unites us,
Joining with us together with every Christian
Upon whose shoulders we now stand.
Our inherited gifts are forgiveness of our sins
And the salvation of our souls.
Make faith become our body politic.
Unlike social politics
Faith in Jesus Christ will never fail you.
Faith in Jesus Christ always leads to
An inner transformation from sinner to saint,
With God healing and blessing the world.