Sermons

Sermon for All Saints, Year A

Sermon for All Saints, Year A

Nov 01, 2020

Passage:Matthew 5:1-12

Preacher: The Rev. Jo Roberts Craig

Series: Feast Day

Category: Blessing

Detail:

 All Saints Day

November 1, 2020

 

Imagine with me…if you will…that we live in the time of the first century of the common era…

 

Something very unusual is happening and we hear friends and neighbors speaking of it in excited but quiet tones in the market place; in the courtyard of the synagogue….

 

There is a feeling of expectation… We first felt it when we heard John the Baptizer…when we went out with the rest of the crowd to hear him and to marvel at his words…

 

Not since Malachi …four hundred years ago…four hundred years ago have we heard a prophet…have we heard from God through a prophet

 

Haven’t we said over and over that God had turned God’s face from us…Haven’t we said that our brokenness had separated us from the love of God

 

Haven’t we longed for that voice… the voice of the prophet…the voice that told us that we belonged to God?

 

And now there is another… another who speaks as we have never heard with our own ears…another that beckons us; that comforts us; that frightens us…

 

Four hundred years of silence…and now this man Jesus…

 

 

 

Imagining this scenario helps us unpack what is happening in Matthew…

 

After the silence of the prophets, the people have lost their sense of belonging to God…

 

Jesus sees the crowds and goes up to a high place and with the people and His disciples following, He sits down to teach them…

 

And I can imagine that what He says and with the authority with which He says it, the people are astounded…it is not what they expected…

 

Very little in their training with the teachers in the Temple or in the synagogues had prepared them for this…

 

Jesus is speaking to them about their current conditions…He is acknowledging their lives in a way that they never considered…

 

Jesus is telling each of them that they themselves are blessings and that their various situations are the very situations that can bring them closer to God

 

Hearing those words from Jesus, how do they possibly understand? How can they unpack what appears to be opposite of their experiences and certainly the opposite of what their culture has taught them? How can one be blessed in the midst of suffering?

 

 

 

 

John O’Donohue writes in the book, To Bless the Space Between Us,

that there is a quiet light that shines in every heart and it illuminates our minds to see beauty; to seek out possibility and to love life.

 

When we are blessed or when we bless others, it is a calling forth of that light that shines in our hearts…

 

Blessing open doors, heals, and allows for transformations. When Jesus blessed the people calling out the human conditions as a direct connection to God; the people began to be transformed and to heal.

 

Blessing is that gracious joining together of the human heart to the divine heart. It is that belonging that the people had yearned for since the time of Malachi…

 

To be poor in spirit; to mourn; to hunger and thirst for righteousness to be merciful…all these qualities of the human heart and conditions are blessed by God…

 

It is a form of divine kindness or if you like it is a form of grace and mercy…

 

The crowds and the disciples had never heard or considered what Jesus was saying to them…

 

And perhaps neither have we…except in passing or when it has been clearly pointed out to us…

 

When we accept God’s blessing from someone, then we may well find that we are more capable of embracing whatever is happening in our lives…

 

Children understand blessing…They have an insight into blessings that few have; they read folks really well and often they acknowledge the human condition in ways that we have perhaps forgotten…

 

As I consider St. Andrew’s at this time during the Covid 19 pandemic, I consider that we have been given an ample opportunity to bless others…

 

In our Pilgrimage Groups, we can acknowledge the gifts of others; we can acknowledge the conditions of the human heart

 

We can actively listen to others and find that there are those who are poor in spirit; those who mourn; those who are meek; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; those who are merciful; those who are pure in heart; the peacemakers; those who are persecuted…

 

WE can remind ourselves and others that if we have lost our sense of belonging;  INDEED we belong

 

I promise if we bless one another the doors to our hearts will be opened; healing and transformation will occur and we will become more and more the people of God…

 

Perhaps that is one of the ways we become soul friends…I also think it is one of the ways that we begin to be willing to confess to God what is troubling us or keeping us in a cycle of brokenness…

 

If someone acknowledges and blesses where we are in this life; then

doors can be opened to forgiveness; acceptance; a way forward; a knowledge of friendship; understanding…

 

We have times in our lives where the feelings of pain and loss are unbearable…

 

When my sister died of ovarian cancer, I walked into her hospice room at 2am and began to get her ready to leave the hospital

 

There were prayers and blessings sending her on her way…As my baby sister, it seemed to me to be impossible that I was blessing her in her death…

 

The world was turned upside down…As her husband and I walked her body to the awaiting hearse, we were silent and the hall way was at least five million miles long…

 

Our grief seemed at that moment to be limitless, devastating…But deep in ourselves, there was a knowledge of our friendship, our love for Ann and each other, and our ability and the reality to ask for God’s blessing…

 

The joining together of the human heart to the divine heart…

 

At that moment in time, we  stood together in the kingdom of God…exhausted, heartbroken, but appropriate and washed in grace

 

Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted…

 

I invite you to bless others and allow them to bless you.

 

John O’Donohue says it so beautifully,

“When you bless someone, you literally call the force of their infinite self into action” And I would add, in that blessing God’s compassion and mercy are recognized and claimed.

 

Amen

 

 

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O’Donohue, John, To Bless the Space Between Us, Doubleday Publishing, 2008.