Text: Matt 5:1-12
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
It’s almost over!
No, I’m not referencing the end of the Pentecost Season and the beginning of a new church year – though that is upon us. It is the election cycle which will culminate with our votes this Tuesday November 8th and the election of a new President.
I’ve almost finished reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first volume in a three volume biography by Edmund Morris of our 26th President. I am right at the point where Roosevelt – who is President of the New York Police Commission at this time – and is campaigning for William McKinley in hopes and ultimately being appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in McKinley’s first administration. He only served one year as assistant Secretary. He then leads the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War, becomes Governor of New York, and then is tapped for Vice President in McKinley’s second administration which ultimately leads to his ascent to the Presidency.
What you may ask is the point of all this? Well, we don’t ultimately know how the Lord will work in and through our elected officials, but we do know that all things are under God’s control. So I would ask at this time that we pray the Lord’s blessing:
Heavenly Father, we lift our needs and the freedoms we enjoy in this country to your blessed care. Give us not what we deserve for abandoning you in so much of our personal and public witness, but give us leaders that are most beneficial for our needs as we look to your blessed and continued care. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
5 Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them …
It is a very common thing as we read the scriptures to see Jesus as teacher. Here in our lesson he sits to teach those who will hear. The word of God in our text is spoken by Jesus. It is proclaimed to those saints … those followers of Jesus who had gathered to hear him.
In the same way God’s word comes to us who have gathered together to hear his word as it is read, sung and proclaimed in the Divine Service. As you go through the parts of the liturgy in setting one you’ll see a scripture citation for each part. This is true with all our services. The liturgy and our services are built on the very word of God.
As we celebrate All Saints Day this weekend we celebrate those saints who from their labors rest with our Lord Jesus, being brought to faith in this life through that same word of God we hear and by the same working of the Holy Spirit.
This year I’m reminded of dear friends and former Peace members, Joan Kitzman, Hilda Klein, Ed Blasius, Betty Buchanan, and Roy Kusnereit among others, who this year went to be with our Lord.
They too heard the same word of God - first connected to the waters of Holy Baptism as they were washed clean and made God’s child, but also here at Peace proclaimed in word and song, binding them to Christ for forgiveness - just as you and I are also bound to him in the same way.
We are all indeed poor in spirit being brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin though we are blessed, rescue by another, and given the Kingdom of Heaven.
As we mourn their passing and the passing of all blessed loved ones who have died in the faith we are promised the Lord’s comfort. The blessing of comfort turns tears of sadness into tears of joy. We live a life on earth of mourning … both as sinner and saint … and at the same time dead in trespass and sin and alive in the Spirit. Our comfort is not in Country’s and Presidents but in a Kingdom given and received through the gracious and merciful hand of God.
On a visit to the Beethoven museum in Bonn Germany, a young American student became fascinated by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with a lavish tip, and the guard agreed. The girl went to the piano and tinkled out the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As she was leaving she said to the guard, "I suppose all the great pianist who come here want to play on that piano."
The guard shook his head. "Padarewski [the famed Polish pianist] was here [once] and he said he wasn't worthy to touch it."
Meekness and humility are not part of our human condition tainted by sin. As we heard in the sermon for Reformation last week, true peace comes as it came to Martin Luther in the words of Romans 5:1
5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We inherit a new heaven and a new earth, Rev. 21:1 one without the taint of sin and death coming out of this life of tribulation having washed our robes white in the blood of the lamb. Rev. 7:14 Jesus, the true suffering servant who in true humility became man for us so that we might be satisfied. Though it is only through God’s working in us that we can hunger and thirst for righteousness. Left to our own evil desires … we only thirst for power, riches and the ways of the world.
It is very good news though that God is merciful. He gives us what we don’t deserve … Heaven and not what we do deserve … Hell. He sees you, his child, as you are in Christ.
Having been forgiven we too forgive. Having received mercy we also show mercy – these are fruits of faith.
The Pure of Heart shall see God. Bernard of Clairvaux in lamenting the loss of his brother he writes:
Through death’s jaws Gerard passed to his Fatherland safe and glad and exulting. When I reached his side, and he had finished the psalm, looking up to heaven, he said in a clear voice: “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” Then saying over again and again the word, “Father, Father,” he turned his joyful face to me and said: “What great kindness that God should be father to men! What glory for men to be sons of God and heirs of God!” So he rejoiced, till my grief was almost turned to a song of gladness.
Daily prayer Catechism The Lord will Answer CPH 2004 Pg. 428
God changes our hearts of stone to pure hearts so that we are blessed and see God through the eyes of faith. God makes us peacemakers as we are made his children called sons and daughters of God by his gracious and good work. Even through persecuted for righteousness’ sake, we received the blessed kingdom of heaven as a promise and a pledge through Christ’s merit.
It is through all these things that we can be and are truly blessed. As we will sing in verse 8 of For All the Saints:
From Earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Alleluia! Alleluia!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.