God’s vision for the world, God’s values, are radically different from much of the world, but in them you find you are blessed and you are a blessing to others.
Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
All Saints Day
Texts: Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3:1-3
Beloved in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Do you sometimes feel poor in spirit?
Is faith that God is in the world and doing anything really hard to find sometimes? Are doubts that God loves you or the world piling up and anxiety twisting your gut?
That’s hard to be in this world. So many seem completely confident in their views, never wavering, and even people of faith can say that if you just tried harder to believe, you’d never doubt. Being poor in spirit can feel very lonely.
Well, good news. God’s values are radically different than this world. Jesus, the face of the Triune God, tells you today that when you are poor in spirit you are in the middle of God’s reign. That God’s way is found through losing, not winning, and those who struggle to see and believe find God because of that struggle, not by never doubting. When you are poor in spirit, you are blessed, because then you are with God.
Are you mourning right now?
On this All Saints Day we all remember and grieve those we love who have gone. But maybe grief doesn’t wait just for today for you. Are there moments, even whole days, where grief bursts your control and boils overwhelmingly into your entire life? It might have been ten years, or ten days, since your loss, but you still find yourself mourning?
That’s hard to be in this world. Our culture is uncomfortable with grief, people urge you to move on, get over it. So you either try to hide your grief or suppress it. Mourning can feel very lonely.
Well, good news. God’s values are radically different than this world. Jesus, the face of the Triune God, tells you today that in your mourning, God is there. And you will be comforted. You are blessed in your grief, because you are not alone, and God’s love and embrace will hold you through the worst of it and give you peace.
Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?
Long for a world where your neighbors aren’t crushed by an unjust system because of the color of their skin or their economic class? Do you hunger for a world where all can earn enough to live and be housed and all can have the health care they need? Do you ache inside for this, and more, and despair it may never happen?
That’s hard to be in this world. Many say everyone should take care of themselves, and we don’t have a responsibility to help others. There’s an unprecedented level of hatred and disdain and abuse in our society for those who struggle, even from our leaders, and a lack of compassion threatens to dominate our culture. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness and justice can feel very lonely.
Well, good news. God’s values are radically different than this world. Jesus, the face of the Triune God, tells you today that your hunger and thirst will be filled, all of ours will. It may be hard to see, but there’s evidence in yard signs and social media and protests and neighbors helping neighbors that God is working to fill all who hunger for righteousness and justice. You are blessed, for all will be filled.
Do you aspire to be gentle and kind in a world of bullies, a peacemaker in a world of violence and hatred?
You may not always feel gentle or peaceable, but do you long for God to help you become that? To follow Christ’s example and be someone who brings gentleness and peace into this world? It seems much of our world doesn’t value such things.
Well, good news. God’s values are radically different than this world. Jesus, the face of the Triune God, tells you today that God will do what you long for. In your gentleness, you will experience all that God intends for the world. In your peacemaking, you will live into your identity as a child of God. You will be a blessed, and a sign of God’s blessing for this whole world.
Do you desire to learn to be merciful in this cruel world? To have your heart purified of that which would harm you and others?
You may not always feel merciful, especially to those who are cruel and hateful, and your heart might not always have pure motives and be centered in love. But do you long for God to help you find these things? To follow Christ’s example and be God’s mercy and God’s heart in this world? It seems much of our world doesn’t value such things.
Well, good news. God’s values are radically different than this world. Jesus, the face of the Triune God, tells you today that God will do what you long for. When you learn mercy from God, you will find that you are receiving God’s mercy at the same time. When your heart is purified of those things that pull you toward hate and away from love, you will actually see God. You’ll have God’s heart in you. You will be blessed, and a blessing to all you meet.
These are the first words Jesus teaches in Matthew, and they shape all his teaching afterward.
Jesus tells us what God blesses, what God values. God’s vision of how the world is and can be.
And we need these words today. We’re on the edge of an election in the midst of some of the worst public behavior many of us have ever seen, amidst the collapse of decency and civility in our public discourse. So many things in our society seem to be falling apart, injustice seems to reign, and so many things need to be rebuilt for the good of all people. We’re afraid and anxious, tired of all the anger, and fearful nothing will change.
Today Jesus gently offers a different vision. If you can learn to see as God sees, value what God values, you will see a path open that is abundant and hopeful, even in a world of grief and doubt and chaos and fear and struggle. You might suffer for this path, Jesus says today. But Jesus’ promise stands: God is always walking beside you, and you are blessed on this path, no matter what happens.
You can pray for this on this All Saints Day.
You can ask the Holy Spirit to help you to trust and take hope that God has called you blessed. God’s precious child. Beloved. So you can know that whatever you struggle with, grieve over, hunger for, God is always with you in love, filling, comforting, blessing.
And you can ask the Holy Spirit to help you become what God already sees in you. The elder in 1 John says today that we know we are God’s children, but we can’t yet see what we will be. But you can pray for that transformation. That you become the child of God God already sees: gentle, merciful, pure in heart, a maker of peace.
You can pray that God’s sense of what is valuable, what is blessed, might change you, change me, change all God’s children, until it spreads throughout the world, and all the world knows it is truly blessed and loved and lives that blessing for all.
In the name of Jesus. Amen