Summary: This sermon talks about how in baptism we "cross the threshold" into God’s family. We become "saints" by virtue of our connection to Jesus. Many "saints’ past and present have given their life because of their witness to the resurrection of Jesus.
In Jesus Holy Name November 5, 2006
Text: Hebrews 12:1-2 All Saints Day, Redeemer Lutheran
“Living and Dying for Jesus:
thoughts for All Saints Day”
I have on my shelf one of those books on Systematic Theology…translated from German into English, with a few left over German phrases. At the Seminary I seemed to have little use for the heavy reading of 20th Century German Theologian Peter Brunner and his book: “Worship In the Name of Jesus”.
He has phrases like: “In the Gottesdienst (German for divine service) …we encounter God’s word and sacraments. (so far clear) then he asks: “will a pneumatic appropriation of the gift, a spirit filled consummation of the event…. Bring proper spiritual implementation by the assemble congregation?...as we seek a correct theological, dogmatic definition of the place of worship…” in our lives.
Why didn’t he just write: “What does the person in the pew do with the words he hears on Sunday morning?”
Now that I’m more mature I have found some of his words quite helpful. “From the moment of our birth, because we are created by God, in his image, we are called to worship and revere God. In the act of baptism, commanded by God, the child (or adult) crosses the “threshold” into the family of God and no longer stands outside the grace, love and mercy of God.
We don’t use the word “threshold” much these days but every house has one. It’s an apt illustration. One is standing outside the house, unless you use the window which is locked, the only way into the house is to step across the threshold.
Baptism is the regular way by which we human beings in this life are incorporated into the Body of Jesus. It is the threshold into God’s grace, and spiritual family, where we are nourished in our faith.
The Apostle Paul writes to the “saints in Ephesus”, God “chose us to be holy and blameless,….in love he adopted us… through Jesus Christ…in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins….”
Timothy Jones, author of “Nurturing Your Child’s Soul” understands how love and grace transforms the ordinary events of a domestic life into extraordinary teaching opportunities that help children become spiritual children, knowing a God of love and acceptance. “Our task is nothing less than to introduce our children to God. God invites them to believe and follow.”
As the Church celebrates “All Saints Day”, we remember all who accepted God’s invitation to follow Jesus. Everyone who has crossed the threshold into the family of God can rightly be called saints.
We normally think of saints as those people who lead exemplary lives. Mother Teresa. St. Augustine. St. Francis of Assisi, or Peter and Paul. We many think of Stephen, the first martyr, and other committed Christians whose faith in god did not spare them from the peril of history and demanded their lives. Their eyes saw the gates of heaven. Their hope was placed in the heavenly life to come.
The Apostle Paul began many of his letters with these words: “to the saints in Ephesus”, “to the saints in Philippi”. His point. We are all saints by virtue of our baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit. They, and we, are not saints because we are without sin, for only one human being was with out sin, Jesus.
Martin Luther used the term: “Simul Justus et peccator”. We are at the same time saint and sinner. We are sinners by virtue of our behavior, living in the fallen image of Adam, but made holy, by virtue of our “in Christ” position by faith.
We are saints, we are pronounced holy by God because Jesus has taken away our sins by nailing them to his cross. (Col. 2:13-14) There is a great verse in Hebrews 10:14 that reminds us of the work of God in Jesus and the present work of God through the Holy Spirit. “By one sacrifice (of Jesus) he (god) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, who was martyred in 1945 stated, “the Christian community, the Church of Christ has been torn from the clutches of the world. Of course it has to live in the world, but it is made into one body …the body is the “holy Christian church” (I Cor. 14:33) and its’ members are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7) sanctified in Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:2) chosen and set apart before the foundation of the world. The object of the church’s calling in Jesus Christ is that we should be holy and without blemish.”
It is God himself who takes the action upon us, in Christ, through baptism, through the Eucharist just as he did in the life of Peter, Paul and others. It is he who calls us by the gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies us as His holy and purified people. It is Jesus the spotless Lamb of God who has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows.