ALL SAINTS’ DAY – NOVEMBER 1, 2015
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:1-12; 1 JOHN 3:1-3; REV. 7:2-17
YOU ARE BLESSED WITH HOLINESS BY CHRIST JESUS!
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 from the Holy Spirit), and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead: Amen. Dear saints in Jesus Christ:


Our concern with passing things is no passing matter!  Our thoughts are easily consumed with what we see around us and what we feel within us. The pressures of the present can overwhelm our time and undermine our hope!  Our concern with passing things is no passing matter! 


Yet, in due time the invisible things will become visible!  Beyond death’s veil you will see the presence of the Holy Trinity and His holy angels. On the Last Day your body will rise again and in your flesh you will not hunger nor thirst nor have discomfort - your eyes will shed no tears. Dr. Luther taught that this should be as sure for you as if it already happened - for you have God’s Word on it.


What you now see is not lasting!  Scripture leads you to say with Job…my days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6) – swifter than a runner; they flee away…(Job 9:25-26) and with the Psalmist – my lifetime is a mere breath…a shadow (Psalm 39:1-7). That’s why Jesus lovingly works to pull you away from being absorbed and consumed with just passing things?  He gives you daily bread but He is bread for the coming day – the Bread of Life.

ALL SAINTS’ DAY – NOVEMBER 1, 2015
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:1-12; 1 JOHN 3:1-3; REV. 7:2-17
YOU ARE BLESSED WITH HOLINESS BY CHRIST JESUS!
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 from the Holy Spirit), and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead: Amen. Dear saints in Jesus Christ:


Our concern with passing things is no passing matter!  Our thoughts are easily consumed with what we see around us and what we feel within us. The pressures of the present can overwhelm our time and undermine our hope!  Our concern with passing things is no passing matter! 


Yet, in due time the invisible things will become visible!  Beyond death’s veil you will see the presence of the Holy Trinity and His holy angels. On the Last Day your body will rise again and in your flesh you will not hunger nor thirst nor have discomfort - your eyes will shed no tears. Dr. Luther taught that this should be as sure for you as if it already happened - for you have God’s Word on it.


What you now see is not lasting!  Scripture leads you to say with Job…my days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6) – swifter than a runner; they flee away…(Job 9:25-26) and with the Psalmist – my lifetime is a mere breath…a shadow (Psalm 39:1-7). That’s why Jesus lovingly works to pull you away from being absorbed and consumed with just passing things?  He gives you daily bread but He is bread for the coming day – the Bread of Life.
 

“When he sat down, his disciples came to him” (Matthew 5:1). Jesus is speaking to His followers - speaking sinners into saints! Only saints possess the kingdom of heaven. Nothing of their own qualified them for that. Jesus is not giving general ethical commands to all. His disciples came to Him with completely empty hands. They had nothing to offer God. They sought every good thing from God through Him who taught them – the Messiah.

 

In that status of beggary He bestows everything on them. He opened his mouth and taught them saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v.3). Jesus begins at the root of all things by uprooting pride. God’s holy ones in this life are always beggars – ever needy – and yet in Christ they are saints possessing the kingdom of heaven.

 

See how the first Beatitude is a beautiful summary of all the rest for with it the kingdom of heaven is already given!  The beatitudes are not a list from which you are asked to pick and choose or a test by which you are asked to rate yourself. The Beatitudes are what Christ is and what Christ gives in making you His holy one. They are received all or nothing by beggars. After all - you cannot receive the kingdom of heaven and yet not see God. You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness without being poor in spirit. You cannot be poor in spirit before God without mourning your sins and the miseries of this fallen world. You cannot be pure in heart and yet somehow avoid being meek and merciful regarding the afflictions of others. In Christ you are blessed with His holiness – your blood-washed robe is white.

 

All Saints’ Day reminds us that becoming a saint is not a step in Christian career advancement. You are a saint when Christ calls you “holy” – “unique” – “set apart from the world” – “belonging to Him” - “blessed.”  Jesus alone makes saints!  At the end of earthly life – only this will count, that you are clothed in the holiness of Jesus. That’s why you are right to be comforted that you are baptized into Christ Jesus. That’s why you are right to faithfully receive His gifts of forgiveness in the Divine Service!  Despite growing hostility in our land we are presently free to gather in His presence and receive His holy gifts. Dear Christians this treasure is not true for many of those who visit us from other lands. It may not be true in this land in years to come even in this house of worship. But right now it is true!  God help us to give thanks for and joyfully respond to the Gospel freedom we presently have – for ourselves and for others - for the days are evil.

 

In the year 304, in the small village of Abitene in what today is Tunisia in northern Africa, forty-nine Christians gathered as usual for the Divine Service. Diocletian was Emperor and with threat of execution he had forbidden Christians to assemble for Sunday worship. When the forty-nine were found celebrating Holy Communion they were asked why they disobeyed the imperial prohibition. They answered: “Sine dominico non possumus” (We cannot live without Sunday) – meaning without the gifts of Sunday – without worship. All forty-nine were tortured and put to death for receiving the gifts the living Christ comes to serve us today. 


“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


In God’s judgment, blessedness often begins where in human judgment good fortune ends!  The Holy Spirit leads us to see God’s blessing even in opposition – even when tribulation is increasing. The brutal killing of Christians in other lands – the mounting attacks in our land against a true confession of Christ and His words and the words He sent His apostles to speak. This opposition is not without blessing from God. It can help us see more clearly what really matters – in the use of our tongues – in the giving of our treasure – in the spending of our time. Christianity that the world loves even though it hates the true Christ would be our invention!  Christianity with no opposition - in our lives – in the media – in the market place - on campus - would be a false fabrication. The Son of God in the flesh did not speak His beatitudes for invented or fabricated or pretend reasons. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  The holy cross of suffering has always been and remains a mark of Christ’s church.

 

Fellow redeemed this beatitude is just as crushing as the rest if we want to measure ourselves with it - wear it by our own might?  Every day self-love and its top priority of self-preservation keeps bubbling up. You know your sin in not loving your enemies. You know your sin in not perfectly praying for those who persecute you!  “Blessed are you for recognizing that!  As we fall short in being merciful, meek, pure in heart, we also fail in confessing and contending for the righteousness of God. On any scale of bearing our cross - our reward will not be heaven.


That goes also for the forty-nine of Abitene. They did not earn their way to heaven by their deeds of love or their strength of confession. But they did receive grace from Him who was their strength - who loved His enemies - who prayed for those who reviled and persecuted Him. That’s why they viewed receiving His gifts as their very life!  Their witness and the witness of other saints, who confessed their dependence upon God’s grace and suffered for it, is a rich blessing to us?  Thank God for His gifts to His saints!


Thank God that His concern with the passing nature of our life is also no passing matter. From His invisible presence He gave the most precious visible gift - His only Son in the flesh. See what kind of love the Father has given to us. When they reviled and persecuted and spoke all kinds of evil against Jesus in person – his reward was very great in heaven – a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages including you!  His reward was that great because His blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) – He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:28). In the midst of the great tribulation of God’s wrath against all sin He spoke a blessing that didn’t begin with the world “blessed.”  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Even our concern with passing things He forgives. He shed His cleansing blood on the cross that He might fill the cup in His resurrected hand – for the forty-nine on a Sunday centuries ago – for you on this Sunday morning!  He is risen and He is the highway to Zion in your heart.

 

Who are these in white robes and from where have they come...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. Today we name our dead – members of Luther Memorial who have been called from the pressures of this passing world since a year ago. Their names mount up through the years – far more than the names of those of us here now – names such as Adeline and Bruce and Clara and Gordon and Helga and Helen and Marcie and Marge and Olive and Paul and Phyllis and Ray and many more that may come to mind – loved ones also who confessed the faith elsewhere. 


We call them the blessed dead because they have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Thanks be to God you also are coming out of the world’s pressures – you are journeying through them to a time and a place that John describes this way: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

 

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. Your garment is washed in His blood – a robe of festivity and blessedness!  He bestows upon you the amazing miracle of purity – His purity. In Him you will never be put to shame!

 

Your full rest is coming – the sweet calm of paradise the blest!  Right now, however, the warfare continues. In it – your rock – your fortress – your strength - is Christ!  See what kind of love the Father continues to give you in Him – steadfast love that is no passing matter!  His forgiving love is your refuge and the source of your sure and certain hope beyond death’s veil. In due time the invisible will be gloriously visible and you will see the presence of the Holy Trinity and His countless host even as one of their number.

 

In the Name of Jesus, 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