ALL SAINTS’ DAY – NOVEMBER 6, 2016
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:1-12; REV. 7:2-17; 1 JOHN 3:1-3
THE HOLY COMMUNION OF SAINTS!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come and from the seven spirits who are before His throne (that is the Holy Spirit) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead (Rev. 1:1-2). AMEN. Dear Saints of God:


Remember how C. S. Lewis pictures the devil (Screwtape) teaching his nephew (Wormwood). Their dialog pictures one of Satan’s chief temptations as limiting Christians’ view of the Church to the present time. Think of Christ’s Church in our time – statistically challenged – rocked by doctrinal unfaithfulness within - mocked by media and political elites without – increasingly told that the influence of Christ’s teaching on your life and conscience must not be seen in the public square. This true but limited view of the Church Screwtape encourages Wormwood to promote. He then warns – “I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.


Holy ones in Christ – Satan does tempt you this way - for the Church Triumphant is not visible to your eyes and senses!  To the degree that he succeeds – to the degree that the Church Triumphant falls from the hope of your heart and becomes unreal to you – to that degree you lose touch with reality. That is why the communion liturgy leads us to speak of all the company of heaven. That is why Jesus leads us to recall the unseen, eternal realm each day – teaching us to address our Father in heaven – and to pray first each day - Holy be Your Name – Your Kingdom Come – Your will be done (all) - on earth as it is in heaven.


Dear Saints of Christ – this is the day when we name our dead and today we will remember God’s gifts to Ann Lippitt – a former member for whom a memorial service was held here. This is the first year I have served you that no current member of Luther Memorial has been called home since the previous All Saint’s Day. That is a little blip – like a candle next to the sun – reflecting eternal reality – when the dwelling place of God is with man. For then - He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4)

 

ALL SAINTS’ DAY – NOVEMBER 6, 2016
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:1-12; REV. 7:2-17; 1 JOHN 3:1-3
THE HOLY COMMUNION OF SAINTS!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come and from the seven spirits who are before His throne (that is the Holy Spirit) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead (Rev. 1:1-2). AMEN. Dear Saints of God:


Remember how C. S. Lewis pictures the devil (Screwtape) teaching his nephew (Wormwood). Their dialog pictures one of Satan’s chief temptations as limiting Christians’ view of the Church to the present time. Think of Christ’s Church in our time – statistically challenged – rocked by doctrinal unfaithfulness within - mocked by media and political elites without – increasingly told that the influence of Christ’s teaching on your life and conscience must not be seen in the public square. This true but limited view of the Church Screwtape encourages Wormwood to promote. He then warns – “I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.


Holy ones in Christ – Satan does tempt you this way - for the Church Triumphant is not visible to your eyes and senses!  To the degree that he succeeds – to the degree that the Church Triumphant falls from the hope of your heart and becomes unreal to you – to that degree you lose touch with reality. That is why the communion liturgy leads us to speak of all the company of heaven. That is why Jesus leads us to recall the unseen, eternal realm each day – teaching us to address our Father in heaven – and to pray first each day - Holy be Your Name – Your Kingdom Come – Your will be done (all) - on earth as it is in heaven.


Dear Saints of Christ – this is the day when we name our dead and today we will remember God’s gifts to Ann Lippitt – a former member for whom a memorial service was held here. This is the first year I have served you that no current member of Luther Memorial has been called home since the previous All Saint’s Day. That is a little blip – like a candle next to the sun – reflecting eternal reality – when the dwelling place of God is with man. For then - He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).


But that time is not yet and in His Beatitudes Jesus speaks a word about present mourning and the present position of meekness and humility that Christians occupy in the world. As the readings of All Saints Day lead our thoughts to the one holy apostolic church of all believers of all times (an army with banners) and to loved ones who have gone before us in death this year and in past years - Jesus also speaks to those who mourn. He speaks eternal comfort to present sorrow and everlasting physical blessing (not just spiritual) to His Bride of low earthly standing. Jesus says to you – His saints - Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.


In the Beatitudes Jesus proclaims who you are in Him – your present state as one baptized into Christ. He cannot lift you up more highly than to call you and make you “Blessed” for by it He means your present and future state of being saved in Him. This is your present status!  Blessed are the poor in spirit (those sinners knowing their deep need) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Right now God’s kingdom is yours). Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The world’s reviling of the One you confess – the world’s insulting of the Church’s trust in His words does not change this present reality – theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In between the present possession in the first and last Beatitudes Jesus also proclaims unending future gifts – gifts He calls you to anticipate in faith – gifts realized in death and on the Last Day. Such as - Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.


The mourning Jesus speaks of here is the sorrow of heart and the outward grieving of those who suffer in this present age and who see it as it is. Blessed are those who are mourning – for the dead – who take seriously the loss, the absence, the enemy that has separated you from your loved one – separated us few from the hundreds more who have said their “Amen” in this congregation through a century.


Blessed are those who are mourning – and who do not pretend that death is a natural end to some circle of life – who do not make-believe that death is an accident with no everlasting consequence – who do not flow along in this culture of death seeing little ones in the womb and aged ones in weakness as those for stronger ones to dispose of. Blessed are those who are mourning - those whose hearts hurt over the aging and the disease that ravages our bodies and those of whom we love.


Blessed are those who are mourning a country that slides deeper into darkness and corruption – a deceived and deceiving culture that champions and celebrates what God does not give and utters all kinds of evil falsely against what God does give. (See Revelation 18)  Blessed are those who are mourning the divisions in relationships caused by power plays or by fear or by lack of understanding – who long for the reconciliation and the healing – the God’s love brings in Christ.


Blessed are those who are mourning as did the Apostle Paul for the sin of others that stains the church (1 Cor. 2:6; 5:2; 2 Cor. 12:2) – and for the sin that that infects and clings to their own hearts. All who recognize themselves to be spiritually poor (sinful beggars) and yet blessed eternally in Christ (His holy ones even now) will find themselves mourning – with sorrow of heart  over evil and sin.


Blessed are those who mourn --(pause)-- for they shall be comforted. This word basically means “to call someone to oneself” and in Greek culture it rarely meant to comfort another. In Scripture, however, “to comfort” is by far the outstanding sense of this very same word. It means to be comforted in any human grief. The beautiful comfort Jesus speaks is to the poor in spirit who are mourning sin and evil in the world and in the church and in their own bodies and souls. The beautiful comfort Jesus speaks is future passive – they shall be comforted -  by God Himself.


True and lasting consolation comes from Him alone. Comforting you is His proper work (Psalm 71:21);  even in death – Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)  His comfort reaches even beyond your death to the blessed fullness of the Last Day. For He continues Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.


This word for meek - is used only by Matthew in the Gospels and other than this beatitude - always of Jesus (Mt. 11:29; 21:5). Therefore to see oneself as meek apart from being a blessed beggar in Christ would do violence to Scripture. All of these beatitudes find life only in Jesus and through Him they are given to you – His saints in total.


Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.  Why not the heavens one might ask?  When looking to the eternal future why does Jesus promise that those in Him will inherit the earth?  Saints of God Jesus is proclaiming the full comfort of His blessed saving work – for body and soul. He is forecasting the restoration of creation. For, according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. God allowed John to see it on Patmos – the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God – a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away (Rev. 21:1, 2)


Those now oppressed and bowed down in suffering with Christ are fellow heirs with Him (Romans 8:17) and will rule with Him. He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. The literal meaning is that He will spread His tent over them just as Jesus became flesh and pitched His tent (dwelt) among us. His sheltering of us indicates the warmth and intimacy of a family dwelling. It indicates that God will dwell with us in a manner experienced also with our human senses. He will call us to Himself in eternal comfort. Think of the comfort of being one family in heaven – of having one language in the new heaven and the new earth. Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest. Think of the comfort of having not one evil thought of another – no hidden motives – no politics – no fear - no doubt – no sin – no death – no mourning – no sorrow of heart. Such unspeakable joys God has prepared for those who love Him.  


As Christ rose bodily, so our bodies will be raised immortal and glorified in the final resurrection. When he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. Our real eyes (like Job’s eyes) will see God in the flesh. You will live bodily with God in the new heaven and the new earth. That is why Jesus so clearly and boldly promises Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. That is also the heart of the eternal comfort He promises.


Blessed are those who are mourning for they shall be comforted. It is not out of place for you as God’s holy ones to mourn now – to ache over this broken world, over the church, over the state, over sin in others, over sin in yourself. It is not out of place for that grief – that sorrow of heart – to sometimes shed tears. Jesus does not pretend nor does he command His saints to pretend.


Neither does Jesus allow us to pretend that what we see is all there is. The everlasting comfort he promises breaks into our temporary sadness even now. For See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. It is love so profound – that it clothes a great multitude in white robes – a multitude from all tribes and peoples and languages. Who are these in white robes?  These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; It is love so profound that the Father gave His Son to be disrobed in death and raised Him up in new life to robe us in eternal life. There is reason for joy in the Lord always for you have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Chris from the dead. Your washing of rebirth has not lessened in cleansing power for its cleansing power is the blood of the Lamb.


See what kind of love the Father has given to us…and continues to give to us!  His steadfast love comforts the down cast (2 Cor. 7:6, 13) - comforts us (Psalm 119:76). He comforts us in our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3ff). That comfort is Jesus and the eternal gifts he gives. Even now He comes to the weary and weak to give them strength. Even now He comes to those who see clearly and who mourn to dry their tears.


Satan’s temptation to limit your view – to lock you in on the here and now of the church is real. But what is invisible to the world is not invisible to you for you see also with your ears. Faith comes through hearing and hearing through the speaking of Christ. That’s why it is good to rejoice in all the company of heaven as He comes to speak to you every Lord’s Day. That’s why it is good that with Him you speak to your Father in heaven every day. Through His Word – there steals on your ear the distant triumph song, and hearts (your hearts) are brave again and arms are strong. You hope in Him is sure and certain for there breaks a yet more glorious day; The saints triumphant rise in bright array; The King of Glory Passes on His way.


He passes on His way among you on this day also to feed you with body-bread and blood-wine – His body – His blood. Already in the Old Testament bread and wine were closely associated as a means of comfort (Genesis 14:18; Jeremiah 16:5-7). In receiving the forgiving comfort He bestows on you at His Table you all together proclaim His death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26)


Now may our Lord Jesus Christ, himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thess. 2:16-17. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a