Summary: A sermon for saints...
† In the Name of Jesus †
Mercy and Peace, are yours, incredible gifts given to you, from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The communion of saints
“Aunt Berdie was a member of Shepherd of the Valley before she and her husband Walther moved to Hemet in 1994. Uncle Walter passed away in 1999 and Aunt Berdie on August 1st, 2006. God graciously granted Aunt Berdie’s desire to die in her sleep, in her own bed. Her last days here were filled with a longing for Heaven. Her heartfelt desire was that all her family and friends join her There at their appointed time. May each of you know Jeus as your personal Savior as Aunt Berdie did.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
Those words accompany a letter I received just Friday; a letter from Berdie’s niece. Evidence of her love and care for us, her former congregation. Even more evidence of her faith in a Lord, who was faithful to her.
Quite appropriate for this week, as we celebrate All Saints Day. As we celebrate what our creed calls the communion of Saints. To put another way, the fellowship, the gathering together of all those accounted righteous, and holy because Jesus was faithful.
So often, in Lutheran sermons, we talk of what we are saved from. You here it from this pulpit, nearly every week. We are saved, delivered from the bondage of sin, from Satan’s tricks, and from the fear of death. Do we, should we, not also talk of what we are saved to? Of that place that Birdie longed for, that place that is our eternal home?
Do we talk about the great fellowship of the saints, the communion, the gathering together of God’s people, in the full presence of God? Of what our gospel reading today, will describe as our “great reward” in heaven?
Today we shall… my friends today we shall.
The Reward Described
But are we?
Listen to these words, from our gospel reading this day,
The Kingdom of Heaven, to be comforted by God, an inheritance for those who are co-heirs with Christ, satisfied in our thirst for righteousness, the receipt of mercy, to see God. (pause) To be called the sons of God. Great truly, is our reward in heaven. (pause)
My friends, Jesus, when sharing these words, had in mind those people we call the communion of saints. He had people like Peter and Paul, Moses and Elijah, Luther and Francis of Assisi; as well as our own, people like Berdie Smith, and John Bosheff, (pause) and you, and I.
And today, we celebrate the fact that we are in such company, the people gathered by God, from every age, to be His people. To receive the promises I just read, hear them again,
The Kingdom of Heaven, to be comforted by God, an inheritance for those who are co-heirs with Christ, satisfied in our thirst for righteousness, the receipt of mercy, to see God. (pause) To be called the sons of God. Great truly, is our reward in heaven. (pause).
Just curious, how many people in this room consider themselves humble, or poor in Spirit? How many of us mourn, not just for our losses, but for the state of the world? Anyone here truly meek? How about anyone who truly hungers and thirsts for living truly righteously? Anyone want to claim that they are truly merciful? Or perfectly pure in heart? Anyone here persecuted and lied about, and mocked, because of their faith in Christ?
Anybody want to claim that they fit all of the above? That they are the walking embodiment of the Beatitudes?
How then, can we claim the rewards? Or, knowing that the word is translated wages in some places, how can we save we deserve them? Knowing that these words, so rarely describe how we see ourselves, when we look into the mirror, how do we dare claim them?
By trusting in the Jesus who is the embodiment of those beatitudes, who deserves all the rewards. Who graciously brings us, into His kingdom, and makes us His blessed people.
The Reward Realized
The Cross, and the Table
In Hebrews 11, there is a chapter usually referred to as the Hall of Faith, a catalog of heroes of those who died in the Old Testament, who trusted in God, and in God’s faithfulness. They like us, struggled with sin, and self doubt. That struggled with fears, and with family challenges.
What makes them different? Faith. Not faith in themselves, but faith in a God who walked with them. Faith in a God whose completed promises they would not see in their lives, as one counts a life time. Indeed, the chapter ends, with,