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All Saints Day All Saints Day

We are blessed, because Jesus is HERE!
We are blessed, because Jesus is HERE!
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All Saints Day

Posted on Tue, Nov 4, 2014

Matthew 5:1-12: The Beatitudes

November 2, 2014 - All Saints Day

Gospel Text: Matthew 5:1-12: The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

 

The writer(s) of Matthew waste no time in telling their story of who Jesus is, His work and His purpose. As soon as his disciples are chosen this is what is written about his travels:

 

4:23 Jesus* went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news* of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24So his fame spread throughout all Syria (FAR NORTH), and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. 25And great crowds followed him from Galilee (NORTH), the Decapolis (ESE of Galilee), Jerusalem, Judea (SOUTHERN PALESTINE), and from beyond the Jordan (FAR EAST).”

 

Think about what these 12 disciples have just witnessed in a rather short amount of time. One day they are doing their jobs, quiet and routine, and suddenly a strange rabbi whose words inspire your heart comes along and calls you by name. You are most surprised when you hear the word, “yes, I’ll follow you” come out of your own mouth… and then you go from a familiar life of repairing nets and fishing on a huge beautiful lake, to places you only heard about. In following this Jesus you are forced to meet people from as far away as Syria, beyond the Jordan River and beyond. And then Jesus takes you into places you never would have imagining traveling to, and Jesus makes sure you witness Him heal terribly sick individuals, people possessed with demons of all sorts, people with epilepsy and even people are paralyzed being made whole again.  Wouldn't you be filled with questions as to what is exactly going on, and why did your teacher intentionally bring you to these terrible places to hear to witness these amazing things?

 

Frankly, after all these experiences, I am amazed that any of them are still with Jesus. Fishing is hard work, but to see a blind person made to see again, a person with open wounds suddenly being made whole again, people you would consider possessed suddenly calm and with a sound mind, would either fill me with questions, a desire for that same power, or totally freak me out sending me running home to the familiarity of my nets…

 

But Jesus had a purpose to showing the disciples what God can do when faith is let loose. Little do they know it, but Jesus is simply showing them what they will one day, on their own, will be doing only powered by their faith and the power of the Holy Spirit

 

After frenetic days of healing, curing, teaching and casting out demons, they finally come to a quiet place. There is this little formula, “…he went up the mountain…” All throughout the Bible, when a prophet or Jesus “goes up on a mountain,” it normally means in this quiet on the mountain God is about to teach them something VERY important.

 

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

 

Why does Jesus call them, “Blessed?” First, because God the Son, Jesus is there among them. Second, in Jesus entering their world and curing them the disciples are witnessing what God in Christ Jesus can do. Third, their eyes, mind and spirit are being made open to see that God knows these “little ones,” who are suffering and are not alone.

 

Imagine as Jesus lead his disciples through all the streets of Jerusalem, and then up north to Nazareth, Galilee, and other towns; Just like any modern city including Honolulu they stepped over beggars, sick people with open sores and homeless people sleeping in the streets. They would have heard the wailing of families as a member of their village has died. Imagine the disciples walking past little homeless children just trying to scrounge for something to eat… these people did nothing to deserve their lot in life, they were only born and thrown away by society. Then there would be the one or two who had little to even feed themselves doing what they can to find some food or comfort to people in need RIGHT IN THEIR OWN VILLAGE.

 

Then Jesus will say:

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

These are the Simeon’s and Anna’s, the Mary, Martha and Lazarus’s, they are even the religious leaders like Nicodemus who understands that the meaning of their faith and their religion are much more deeper than the world can comprehend. They are the ones who spend their entire life “waiting for the Lord.” They know the world belongs to the Lord, they know how the scriptures proclaim the faithfulness of God, they know that as they hold onto their faith, they are sometimes mocked by soldiers and even their neighbors, but they continue to believe and their faith keeps them strong AND HOPEFULL!

 

Then Jesus utters the words that sometimes casts fear into many Christians. Jesus says:

 

11 ‘Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

When Jeremiah prophesied the truth that the people of Israel needed to repent or they would soon be taken into bondage and slavery, was he accepted and heralded as a hero? Even though he spoke the Truth he was mocked, ignored or vilified no matter how hard he tried to get the people to pay attention. When Martin Luther King spoke the Truth of the equality of all people before God’s eyes, and his dream that all children of every race and nationality would one day play and learn together, even though he spoke The Truth, how did the people respond to his proclaiming The Truth? I still remember watching the news in 1968 and seeing police dogs tearing at innocent people; seeing fire hoses turned on people throwing people in the street. I saw it as a child, and to this day I don’t need newsreels to view to remind me how the ignorance and bigotry of a few caused so many people to suffer… and what did it get the prophet MLK? I also remember April 4, 1968 like it was yesterday. The man, who was telling the Truth of God in Love one day, was slain the next… but that didn't stop the movement, because you cannot stop Truth in Love even with violence.

 

This will become a critical lesson for each disciple on a personal level as they go out proclaiming the Gospel, healing the sick, and teaching anyone who has ‘ears to hear.’

 

Now, imagine yourself sitting with Jesus in a park in Honolulu after he has just led you to hear the stories of people being helped by IHS (Institute for Human Services), to see how hard the Hawaii Food bank works to assist 20% of our nutritionally challenged neighbors, the work being done at Palama Settlement, to see the conditions families with children are living in within the Makaha bush, and other hidden places where they won’t be seen, and they consider “safe.”

 

After your tour of our island with Jesus, listening and seeing the suffering of our neighbors your heart would be torn apart, but Jesus would remain calm, and then call them, “blessed” right before your eyes. Why? because in their suffering Jesus is there, on this island there are congregations that, through the Holy Spirit, ARE the Body of Christ!!!

 

The heart of the scriptures are the stories of God’s faithfulness leading up to our own redemption through the Cross of Christ SO THAT we would be  empowered to BE GOD’S HANDS to do GOD’S WORK in the world. God has brought our congregation together, empowered us through the Good News of the death and resurrection of Christ, given us an identity through baptism and fed us so that we can be strengthened and do the work has meant for us to do.

 

Blessed are we because Jesus is calls us God’s Children.

 

Sing: Behold, What Manner Of Love

 

Verse 1:

 D G D A

 Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us

 

 D G D A D

 Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us

 

 G D A

 That we should be called the sons of God

 

 D G D A D

 That we should be called the sons of God

 

© 1978 Maranatha! Music

Words and Music by Patricia Van Tine

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