Summary: An All Saints’ Day sermon preached 11/1/2009 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Audubon, Iowa. Some of the material is from a sermon by Rev. Tim Pauls.
Today is November 1st on our calendars, but on the church calendar, today is “All Saint’s Day.” In the Lutheran church, we believe this is such an important day, that if November 1st doesn’t fall on a Sunday, we usually move it’s celebration to the first Sunday in November. It’s a day where we take the time to remember those who have gone before us in the Christian faith; those who have suffered persecution and even died for professing their faith in Jesus Christ. We remember the saints who have, by the grace of God, served the church and the world with lasting contributions. You can turn to pages 10-12 in the Lutheran Book of Worship to find a list of some of them we remember throughout the year. And, it’s also a day where we remember “ordinary saints” if you will; saints like Elenora Fredriksen, Marvin Byriel, Mary Jane Spangler, Bert Gustafson, Barb Madsen, Edna Kjergaard, Ellowene Christensen, Reta Hansen, Marie Winther, Jack Twist, Jim DeBower, and Einar Madsen, friends and loved ones who died in the Christian faith this past year.
And since today is All Saints’ Day, its quite appropriate to ask the question: what does it take to be a saint? By definition, a saint is one who is sanctified, that is, made holy, one who has no sin. So if you are without sin, congratulations, you are a saint, too!
In answering the question “what does it take to be a saint?” Jesus in our Gospel reading for this morning recites the Beatitudes, qualities of those who are blessed to be saints. This is a well known, and important part of the Bible, one that can carry great joy and blessing with it. Yet at the same time, it’s one that is often twisted and misunderstood to lead folks into despair. So, what does it take to be a saint? Let’s go to the Beatitudes to find out.
I may have asked you this question before from the pulpit, but I will do it again. How many of you here this morning consider yourself to be an above average driver? Yeah, look around. Most of you have your hand up. Either a) we have a congregation of really good drivers or b) we have ourselves a perfect insight into human nature. Most people generally view themselves to be better than others in some way, shape, or form. And they believe that if they are better than others, they must be doing a pretty good job at whatever it is they are doing.
This mindset transfers over into the world of religion a lot more than we are aware of, and it really shows up when we start talking about the Beatitudes. A lot of times, we hear “The message of the Beatitudes is this, if you do these things well enough, then you will be happy, and God will bless you beyond your wildest dreams.” It’s really a human standard of measure though the attitude of “If I’m better than average at these things, I’m doing pretty good, so God has to bless me more than other people, God has to favor me over others.” But, while this may work for evaluating driving skill, does it work for sainthood? Let’s find out.
First, Jesus says “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The Bible tells us that the saints of God enjoy eternal life with a new heaven and a new earth, and Jesus tells us here that saints are meek. Meekness is defined as power under control. One who is meek would use his or her power, authority, and skills in service to others, not themselves. So, let me ask you. Are you meek enough? Do you use your power, position, and talents in life in service to others? How about at home, how do you treat your family? Do you live your life as a servant to them, considering their needs and matters to be more important than your own? Has there ever been a time where you lost your temper at a family member because you were not getting your own way? Or what about with the time, talents, and treasures God gives you in this life, do you use what God has given you in service to others? Do you really need to be buying all that new stuff all the time and spending all your money, when you could be using it in service to those who are less fortunate than you are, or to help a family member in a time of need, or to help spread the Gospel, without asking the question “what’s in it for me”? Could you live with less than you have? Do you help as much as you can at home, and in your church?