Monday, November 26, 2018

Sermon for Last Sunday of the Church Year: "The End Times, Part 2"

+ Last Sunday of the Church Year – November 25th, 2018 +
Series B: Isaiah 51:4-6; Jude 20-25; Mark 13:24-37
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

Image result for christ the king

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Whenever our kids know that someone is coming over to the house, you’ll find them glued to the front windows like sea stars on rocks. Maybe you’ve done the same watching and waiting for an amazon package. They may not know the exact hour. Yet there they are. Watching the driveway for cars. Waiting to see who comes to the door.

This is our life as the baptized living in these Last Days. Watching. Waiting. Living in hopeful expectation of the return of the King. Knowing that Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

But concerning that day or that hour, Jesus declares, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard. Keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

To live in these last days is to live on the threshold between time and eternity. We live in the time between times. The time between Jesus’ first Advent in the flesh and his second Advent in glory. As the church year draws to a close and Advent begins the church calendar anew, we join the saints in singing and praying that ancient prayer: Come, quickly Lord Jesus.Jesus calls us to stay awake. Watch. Wait.

And as we wait and watch, Jesus prepares us, as he did his disciples, for the End. Jesus does so by telling two short stories. One about a fig tree. The other about a doorkeeper.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

For many people, and maybe you’re one of them, the thought of the End is a fearful thing. Judgment day. Doom and destruction. Zombie apocalypse and Thunder bolts of lightning, very, very frightening. But Jesus points to a tender fig branch, full of sap and life with budding green leaves as a sign of the End times. Instead of a sign of death, he gives life; instead of destruction he promises a new creation. Instead of judgment, he brings redemption.  

Though it’s true, these Last Days are dark and dangerous. St. Paul instructs us to walk carefully, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Jesus warned his disciples about this too. “When you see these things”. And they would see it all in their lifetime. Wars and rumors of wars. Persecutions. Christians martyred for the faith. Famine. Disease. Death. The destruction of the temple. 

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 

Jesus’ words give us a sense of urgency. Every generation of Christians believes that the end will come in their lifetime. The disciples did. The early church fathers did. Luther did. And even if they didn’t understand the Lord’s timing they had the right view of living in the Last Days. We’re always living as though this present moment is on the threshold of the last day. Jesus is near. Jesus is coming. He is at the very gates. Stay awake. Watch. Wait.

 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Here we could learn a lesson from God’s 4-legged creatures. Every morning our cat Tillamook is awake, waiting for me by our bedroom door. Watching to see when I’ll come out to feed him. He waits and watches, and if I am delayed in feeding him, he waits and watches some more. He won’t stop watching me till I feed him. He may not know when, but he knows I will. 

Our Christian lives are the same. Stay awake. Watch. Wait. This doesn’t mean we quit our jobs and stand around gaping into the skies waiting for Jesus to appear. It means that we go about the work we’ve been given to do, our vocation, with the knowledge and understanding that today or any day could be the Day of the Master’s return. 
Problem is, we’re not very good at waiting are we? It’s not just that we live in a world where our every want, desire, or longing can be instantly gratified; the problem is us. And it’s not just that we’re impatient, complacent, and selfish. Those are the symptoms. Sin is our real problem. 

And if that’s all we had at the end of our lives or the End of the world, well then, it would be a day of judgment and death. But it is not. Not for you, the baptized. Our day of judgment has already come in Jesus’ dying for you. 

For all our faithlessness, Jesus is faithful for you. For all of our spiritual drowsiness and lethargy, the Lord keeps constant vigilance for you. Behold, he who keeps you his Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. For all our impatience and selfishness, Jesus is patient, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast, sacrificial love for you. For all our fears, sin, and death, Jesus gives us hope and comfort, forgiveness, and life. Life today in his Word that never passes away. Life today in the End Times verdict that slips out early in the absolution: you are forgiven all your sin. Life today in his body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins.

All our doubt and despair, all our pain and suffering, all our anxieties, worries, and fears, all of our laziness and impatience born of sin, it’s all been judged already in Jesus. The verdict has been read: not guilty. Go your way, your sins are forgiven you. You are covered in the blood of Jesus. Clothed in his righteousness. 

Jesus the door has opened the way to our heavenly home for us his doorkeepers. Jesus’ cross is our tree of life. The winter of sin is over. Summer is near. And the fruit of his harvest is in the feast he gives us today.

This is how Jesus prepares us for lives of waiting and watching, by hearing and receiving him who is present with us and for us in his own body and blood. Indeed, the Lord is near. Jesus is coming. Today. And one day, He will come again. 

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time,and now and forever. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sermon for Thanksgiving Day: "Thanksgiving for Beggars"

+ Thanksgiving Day – November 22nd, 2018 +
Deuteronomy 8:1-10; Philippians 4:6-20; Luke 17:11-19
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

Image result for Jesus and the ten lepers

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Those 10 lepers had nothing. Sure, they had the clothes on their back, though filthy rags might be more accurate. Bandages covered their disease ridden skin. They had each other a band of miserable, outcast brothers, except for that Samaritan. An outcast among outcasts. But all of them, pariahs. Cast out of their homes, out of the synagogue, and out of the village. Most of the time you’d hear them before you’d see them. “Unclean! Unclean!” they shouted, warning others to stay away. They were defiled. Diseased. They had nothing.

How’s that for a cheerful Thanksgiving Day sermon! No table covered with enough food for our leftovers to have leftovers. No joyful celebrations with family and friends. No football, afternoon naps, or black Friday deals to be had. Only leprosy. Disease. Uncleanliness. Not exactly the picture you’d want on your hallmark Thanksgiving card. A bunch of lepers crying out…Lord, have mercy on us.

And yet, this is the perfect picture for Thanksgiving. The 10 lepers had nothing, and they knew it. 

After Martin Luther died in 1546, his friends found a scrap of paper in the pocket of his robes. On it he had written, “We are all beggars. This is true.”

Those 10 lepers outside the village where Jesus heard and saw them were beggars. The people of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years were beggars. The Lord gave them food they neither knew nor deserved. And though they constantly grumbled that they had nothing, the Lord saw to it that they lacked nothing. On thanksgiving, just like every other day of the year, we are all beggars. This is true. 

Like those lepers we have nothing. Nothing to show for. Nothing to brag about. Nothing to offer God. We have not kept our Lord’s commands and his words. We have not remembered his kindness towards us. We have not loved the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have nothing but empty hands, unclean sinful hearts, and our nothingness.

So, we join the lepers in their cry to Jesus, Lord, have mercy on us

And what’s most remarkable, what is absolutely unexpected about this story is that Jesus didn’t wait for the lepers to be properly, or sincerely thankful before he healed them. Jesus didn’t wait till they checked off all the boxes on their to-do list before he cleansed them. Jesus saw that they had nothing to offer, nothing but their disease and outcastness and he healed, restored, and cleansed them anyway. They had nothing to offer Jesus, and yet he had everything to offer them. 

This is why Luke starts off this story by telling us in just a few brief words that Jesus was “on the way to Jerusalem.” On his way to be the pariah and the outcast, to die outside the city of Jerusalem, for them and for you and for all. On his way to become the unclean one for us. On his way to make himself nothing by humbling himself unto death on the cross.

Surely he has born our diseases and carried our sorrows. I have not come for the healthy, but for the sick, Jesus declares. For the lepers. For us thanksgiving beggars. For we who are nothing, Jesus gives us everything. 

Go and show yourselves to the priest, he told the lepers. And as they went they were cleansed. All of them. By grace. The same grace of God that cleanses us in Holy Baptism. Washing us into his family – no more an outcast, but sons and heirs. Drowning the leprosy of sin in his death and raising us to new life in his resurrection. Clothing us, beggars, with the glorious robe of his righteous, sacrificial death for us. 

This is who God is. God is known in giving. He gives his life for us. He gives his Word to us. He gives his body and blood for us and our forgiveness. And he who did not spare his own Son but gave himself up for us all, how will he not with him graciously give us all things. 

That’s what we learn in the catechism. We who have nothing are given everything in Jesus. 

He gives us body, soul, eyes, ears, and my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, house and home, food and drink, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have . He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life…All this he does out of pure fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. 

For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey him. 

Thanksgiving, you see, isn’t the root of God’s love for us, but the fruit of God’s abundant giving. We’re like fruit trees. Thanksgiving is the fruit of God’s abundant gifts to us, not our gifts to God. Thanksgiving is God’s work in us, not our work for God. Thanksgiving isn’t the gift, it’s the result of God’s giving everything to us in Jesus. It was true of those 10 lepers and it’s true for us too. Thanksgiving is the fruit of God’s gifts to us in Jesus Crucified. 

God doesn’t give His gifts because we’re good enough, or thankful enough. God doesn’t give his gifts only to those who know how to give thanks in the right way. Or feel thanks strongly enough. God gave to you. Broken, hurting, sinful you. Go in peace. For the one who has given you your faith has made you well. The one who has given everything has saved you. And it’s that gift of God alone that brings us to say, Thanks be to God.
A blessed Thanksgiving to each of you…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sermon for Pentecost 26: "The End Times, Part 1"

+ 26thSunday after Pentecost – November 18th, 2018 +
Series B: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-25; Mark 13:1-13
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

Image result for jesus crucified 
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We love watching or reading a good mystery. We try to figure out whodunit before the mystery is solved. Like journalists we read and reread searching for signs, looking for who, where, what, when, why, and how, until we come to the end. The best part of the mystery. The moment everything is revealed, like in the game of Clue: it was Colonel Mustard in the Library with the candlestick!

Jesus’ teaching on the End Times in Mark 13 has all the marks of a good mystery. Jesus’ teaching is a mystery in many ways, but with one important difference. Jesus teaches us about the End Times, the Last Day, not to hide the truth from us, but to reveal the truth to us in his cross. That’s what that little word “apocalypse” means, to reveal. Jesus’ end times teaching reveals his warning to prepare us for His return, and to give us his promise to reassure and comfort us. 

Jesus uses this visit to the temple to begin to unveil and unfold the mystery of the Last Day for his disciples and for us.

“Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

It’s hard to imagine the jaw-dropping, shocking impact of Jesus’ words. For the Jews, The temple was everything: the epicenter of faith and life. It was their world. And in A.D. 70, when the temple was destroyed, stone upon stone. Everything turned to fear. Destruction. Death. It must’ve felt like the end of the world.

As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 

Like the disciples, we want the mystery revealed. What are the signs? When will Jesus return? How will it look? What will happen? It’s fascinating. Captivating. And sadly, confusing at times too. It’s not hard to find someone talking about the End Times. It’s popular, and to be honest, profitable too. Hal Lindsey, Harold Camping. The Left Behind books. Mayan Calendars. Everyone claims to have some secret insight, the hidden answer, the code to solve the mystery of Jesus’ return. 

And isn’t it just like the devil to take Jesus’ teaching about the Last Day and mix and muddle it with discord, despair, and doubt. To distract us and draw us away from Jesus’ word, Jesus’ promises, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

That’s a sure fire way to tell the difference between End Times rubbish and the real teaching. Any End Times teaching that points us away from Jesus words of warning and comfort is rubbish. Anything or anyone that draws our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds away from Jesus crucified is a fake, a fraud, and a false hope. 

Jesus warns us about this. See that no one leads you astray

Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Sounds as if Jesus is reading the headlines of the Sunday morning news. If these are signs, they’re not very revealing ones. False religions. False messiahs. Natural disasters. Wars and rumors of wars. Persecutions. What’s new? That’s been happening since Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and his promise to return. Exactly. That’s the point. To always be ready. The end is not yetThese aren’t signs the signs you’re looking for. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

There’s really only one sign of the end, and it’s Jesus. Everything he says about the end of the world happened to him on the cross. Jesus was delivered over to the council and beaten for us. Jesus bore the scorn of false witness for us. Jesus endured trial, betrayal, and hatred for us. Jesus was delivered over to death for us, his brothers and sisters. We need not fear the End of the world. 

For the end of the world has already arrived in Jesus’ crucifixion. On a good Friday, outside Jerusalem. In darkness at Noon. On a cross. When Jesus declared, “It is finished.” The end. The completion. Fulfillment. That was the end of the world as we know it. Jesus embracing the world in His own body brings the world to its end in His death. He is the persecuted One. The Martyr of all martyrs. The Lord of lords. The King of kings. 

There may be a lot we don’t know about Jesus’ glorious return on the Last Day. But we do know this. All is revealed in his death for us. The cross is the sign Jesus gives us to give us peace, comfort, hope, assurance, and his endurance as we await the Last Day. Jesus endured for you. Suffered for you. Died for you. Rose for you. You are baptized into Him. You have died to this dead world, and now live to God in Christ. For you, the end has already come in the water of Baptism with God’s holy Name placed upon you. You died. And your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

And He who endured the cross for you will return for you. 

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sermon for Pentecost 25: "The Kingdom of Opposites"

+ 25th Sunday after Pentecost – November 11th, 2018 +
Series B: 1 Kings 17:8-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 
You say “up”, the child says “down”. You say “Yes”, they say “No!” You tell them to sit and eat their dinner, and they run around the table faster than Usain Bolt. We’ve all been there…playing the opposite game. Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s frustrating. And yet, there’s a deep Scriptural truth hidden in this little word game.
The Kingdom of God is hidden in the opposite of what we’d expect.
God chose Moses the stutterer to speak to Pharaoh and lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt. God chose the family tree of King David, the murder and adulterer, to bear the kingdom of God in human flesh. God chose to speak to the prophet Elijah – not by fire or whirlwind – but in the still voice of His Word.
In the New Testament God even seems to one-up (or is it one-down) himself. God becomes man. A boy. A child. A baby. For you. The Kingdom of God wrapped in our humanity is the exact image and imprint of his Heavenly Father. Everything Jesus says and does follows the backwards, upside down, opposite ways of the Father. 
In Jesus, the kingdom of God is hidden in the opposite of what we’d expect. A Virgin’s Son. A crucified King. Sinners saved solely by the blood of Jesus. The Kingdom of heaven is hidden in the emptiness of the One who emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, and was found in the likeness of men; it is hidden in the emptiness of the widow’s purse.
No wonder the Scribes and Pharisees were so upset with Jesus. They lived for and loved the opposite of everything Jesus taught. They loved the attention, the applause, and the spotlight; they loved the place of honor, loved to be noticed and recognized on the street, in the marketplace, and in the synagogues.
Beware the scribes, Jesus says. And beware of the scribe within each of us as well. For if Jesus’ words reveal the corruption and wickedness of Israel’s religious leaders, Jesus’ words also reveal our corruption and wickedness. The selfish, self-serving, navel-gazing ways of the scribes reflect our own selfish, self-serving, navel gazing sin. 
Jesus’ words reveal two opposite value systems. In the kingdom of sinful humanity, our value, importance, and status is found in us, it’s self-centered. In the Kingdom of God, our value, importance, and status is found in the cross of Jesus, in his sacrifice, his humility, his life for you.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.

Jesus sat in the temple court with his disciples, waiting, watching the people come and go. So was everyone else. Like spectators at a fireworks show, the expectant crowds would wait for the rich to deposit their offerings. They would watch and listen as the long-necked, metal trumpets filled the courtyard like a gramophone with a chorus of coins. The larger the gift, the louder the music. The crowds looked on in amazement. The rich swelled with pride. 
With all the clatter it would be impossible to hear the widow’s two small coins. No one heard it. No one saw it. Only Jesus, who in his goodness and mercy cares for the widow and the orphan. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.”
The kingdom of God is hidden in the opposites, like this poor widow. But we miss the whole point of this story if we think this it’s only about the poor widow’s offering, and not something greater. It’s not a story teaching us what we must do for God, but what God in Christ will do and has done for us. 
The good news of this story isn’t, “Look at this poor widow; she gave all she had. Be like her. Give it all up and God will bless you.” That’s not good news at all. She gave all she had, the whole of her life she gave. Who of us has done that? Not me. Not you. But there is one who has.
The widow’s offering points us not to ourselves and our own giving, but to Jesus and his backwards, upside down, opposite ways of his Kingdom. Jesus’ self-giving on the cross, where the last are first. The broken are healed. The lost are found. The least are the greatest. The lowly are exalted. 
The kingdom of God comes not by our living like the scribes or giving like the poor widow…but in the selfless, sacrificial giving of Jesus crucified and risen for you. In his gift of saving faith by grace in Jesus. In the Son of Man who came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for you. In the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.In King Jesus who left his heavenly throne and appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

The kingdom of God comes to us, hidden in plain water hallowed by God’s Word and promise. The Kingdom of God comes to us hidden in that quarter size piece of bread placed into our mouth. The kingdom of God comes to us hidden in the nakedness and shame of our crucified King enthroned on the cross where Jesus gave all he had, his whole life for you; where he filled the Father’s treasury – not with copper, gold, or silver – but by shedding his holy, saving blood – every last drop – for you.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sermon for All Saints: "Now and Not Yet"

Image result for sadness and joy core memory

+ Festival of All Saints (observed) – November 4th, 2018 +
Revelation 7:2-17; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Disney’s movie Inside Out tells the story of a little girl, named Riley, who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Her personified emotions - fear, disgust, anger, sadness, and joy – tell her story. In a pivotal, climactic scene Riley’s personified emotion Joy cries. In that moment she realizes something important: we rarely experience joy without first experiencing sadness; that life is often a mix of sadness and joy. As this happens, a new core memory is made in Riley’s mind; it’s depicted as a marble like object, a mix of blue and yellow - a memory where sadness and joy meet.

All Saints’ Day is a lot like that for us the baptized. A day where sadness and joy meet. It’s a bit like being on a teeter totter: one minute we’re up, singing a joyful Alleluia, and the next we’re down, sniffling and weeping through For All the Saints

Today we grieve our loved ones who have died in the faith, yet we do not grieve not without hope. For Christ the Lamb of God has conquered death for them and for you. Today we remember the faithful departed, and yet we rejoice knowing they rest from their labors, awaiting with us the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. Today we have joy in Christ, even in tears.

This is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. As God’s baptized, holy, beloved children our lives are a mix of grief and gladness, longing and comfort, sadness and joy. We live in this In-between Time of Christ’s first coming in flesh to die and rise for us, and his second coming to raise all flesh from the dead. We live in The Now – having all of God’s promises in Christ by faith, and The Not Yet – as we await to see these promises face to face. As St. John declares, Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.”

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says it this way:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the lowly,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
“Poor in spirit, mourning, lowly, hungry? Really? Those don’t sound like blessings, Jesus. Where’s the health, wealth, power, and full bellies – now that’s the blessed, victorious life. I want that kind of life, we say.” At least, that’s the way the world thinks of blessings, and if we’re honest, so do we.  

Jesus, however, gives us an entirely different meaning of the word blessed. They key to understanding Jesus’ words here in the famous Beatitudes is to hear them, not as ethical instructions, not as virtues to which we aspire, not as a spiritual to-do list, but blessings given through Jesus’ death and resurrection for us. The Beatitudes aren’t list of “10 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Life Now!”…but rather, who you are in Christ. Jesus is describing the whole life of his saints, his holy ones – not just those who have died in the faith. You. Now. Today. You are Jesus’ blessed, beloved, holy saints. 

Still, if we’re honest, that’s hard to believe. For though we have ears of faith, we also see the world through fallen eyes. What we are now has not yet appeared. And what we see is downright ugly. A scary, fallen, unforgiving world outside, a heart of darkness within. It’s tempting to think that because we don’t see God’s blessings now, we never will. How can Jesus’ words of blessing be true when all I see is disease, sorrow, and death? How can Jesus’ words of promise be for me when all I feel is lonely, empty, hungry, unworthy, and powerless? I have nothing to offer God. How could he possibly love a sinner like me? I’m no saint. 

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t give his blessing and promise to those who deserve it. He doesn’t wait till we have our lives perfectly put together. I have come not for the healthy, but the sick, Jesus declares. Jesus loves us who are unlovable. God gives us a holiness not our own – his name placed upon you – as it was for Connor this day – in his holy Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On the cross, Jesus took all our pain, sadness, and sorrow upon himself to give us eternal joy. On the cross. Jesus became the poor, lowly, hungry, and broken to bless and save us. On the cross, Jesus became the sinner to make us his saints. 

This is what it means to be a saint – not to look at ourselves - but to Jesus crucified for me. 
I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

For us who live in a broken world, Jesus’ words to us on All Saints’ Day are good news. Blessed are you who are poor in spirit, we who have nothing to offer God, yet receive everything from him in Jesus. Blessed are you who mourn, who acknowledge the world is broken in sin yet made new in Jesus. Blessed are the lowly, when we see that we are powerless to save ourselves, yet Jesus is powerful to save. Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for the righteousness that comes to us today in Jesus’ body and blood.

All Saints’ Day is a blessed reminder that we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.”It’s all yours in Jesus – his grace and mercy now. His promise of resurrection yet to come. Now. Not yet. But it will come, as surely as Jesus rose from the dead. He will return. He will say the word and the dead in Christ – you his saints, and those we remember today – will rise again in Jesus. He will bring us out this great tribulation, for we are washed in robes made white by the blood of the Lamb. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. 

And then…no more sadness. Only joy in Jesus. The Lamb, our Shepherd and Savior.

A blessed All Saints’ Day to each of you…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.