All Saints

Gospel Matthew 5:1–12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“For all the saints who from their labors rest”

Many congregations will sing those words this coming Sunday, but they are already flowing through my heart and my brain as I go through this week.  Of course, we will remember those who died this year. We will give thanks for their life.  But we also can not avoid the truth that while they are at rest, the work is not done.  They left things unfinished.

I think that’s part of the treasure of our Lutheran understanding of baptism, of sainthood, of the priesthood of all believers.  In baptism we all are made saints.  Saints aren’t just the folks who decorate our stained glass windows.  We all are saints right now.

Being a saint doesn’t mean I’m perfectly pure.  All it means is that I have work to do.  Sure I have all that regular stuff like cooking, cleaning, etc., but that’s not the half of it.  Saints make sure we don’t spiritualize Jesus’ words.  Saints don’t patronize the poor with paltry gifts of charity.  Saints make peace in homes, on our streets, in our schools.  Jesus’ words create an upside down world where the poor, the oppressed, the left-out are lifted up.  Saints are the ones who put Jesus words into practice.  Looking at our culture, our world, our country there’s an awful lot of labor to be done.  So, thank you saints in heaven’s light; now it’s our turn.

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