Sermon Notes      All Saints   Oct 31 & Nov 1 2020  “Welcome to the Family”

Memory verses – 1 John 3: 1 & 3.

1See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  3All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”                            –1 John 3: 1 & 3

This weekend, we celebrate the festival of All Saints.  Efraim of Edesa wrote hymn around 359, suggests a commemoration of all the martyrs held on May 13th. By 411 in eastern Syria commemoration was held on the Friday after Easter, … as Christ died on Friday so those who follow him in death imitate his passion, but in the light of the resurrection… On May 13, 609 or 610, Boniface IV dedicated the Roman Pantheon to Mary and all the martyrs. The anniversary of this dedication was kept with great rejoicing –There was a Pagan festival to placate the gods (Lemuria) on May 9, 11, and 13; the Christian celebration on May 13 was probably in part to offset the Pagan festival.  …In England at this time, November 1 is the day of all the Saints. Perhaps Egbert of York, who had been ordained Deacon in Rome in 732, carried the celebration of November 1 to England, or the celebration of the day may have originated in Gaul or Ireland. … in Celtic lands the mists and frosts of late autumn suggested the visitation and presence of spirits making early November a natural time to remember the departed and after the harvest so there would be sufficient food in Rome for pilgrims. In 12th century May 13 for All Saints disappears from liturgical books.     Luther chose Eve of All Saints’ day, October 31, to post Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg for the crowds coming to church to see them. As the anniversary of the posting of the theses came to be observed as Reformation Day, the ancient and universal celebration of all the saints came to be overshadowed in Lutheran churches, although All Saints Day was preserved on Lutheran calendars.            Who are We?      According to St. John’s 1st letter, …  Children of God…

What quality and quantity of God’s love has he given unto us! Despite all of our iniquity, selfishness and sinfulness, He has called us His own children through the waters of Baptism.  God’s love is unique because it is not what our corrupted, sinful nature deserves;  not what our thoughts, words, and deeds have earned.  Believers are not just “named” children of God, but are actually reborn as His children;… a new being is created as the Apostle Paul mentions in II Corinthians 5:17.Through our baptism into Christ, we are welcomed into the family of God.  So when we are assaulted by the devil with low self esteem,charging us as being worthless nobodies; instead of becoming discouraged &depressed, follow Luther’s suggestion – say,                                                                            “Go Away from Me Satan! I am baptized! I am a child of God!” 

For God’s promise is that He has made us His children.  God has never lied to us, nor failed to do what He has promised.  Believers, as the children of God, possess eternal life. Yet the corruption of sin hides present glory in us seen by faith.  Often, the world hates believers arising from the fact that a good life, when encountered , will always draw a comparison or judgment, confronting the world with how far it has fallen short. 

Luther said: “God is infinite, but we are finite creatures.  Moreover, the creature will never be the Creator.  Yet we shall be like Him.  God is life. Therefore, we, too, shall live.  God is righteous.  Therefore we, too, shall be filled with righteousness.  God is immortal and blessed.  Therefore we, too, shall enjoy everlasting bliss, not as it is in God, but the bliss that is suitable for us.”   — Martin Luther

In John 3:3, we are reminded since Our hope is in Jesus , we are no longer slaves to sin.  Having been purified and made holy, and given the sure hope of eternal life, we seek that which is holy and right.  Born of God, we are now free to serve our Savior.                                    1989     President George H. W. Bush  —  hand on Matthew 5  for oath of office.                                                                                     1949     President Harry S. Truman  —  Matthew 5:3-11 and Exodus 20:3-17 …

Matthew 5:1-12, = Beatitudes … begins the Sermon on the Mount, described by commentator as ordination address for Jesus’ chosen 12.  Not ethical demands, but a description of blessings in the superlative… a common literary form throughout Scripture…Psalm 1:1 ………… Luke 11:28………….Revelation  19:9

Examples…“O the Blessedness of the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…”  -Psalm 1…                                                                                                                                                   O the joy of knowing Christ…O the sheer happiness of knowing Jesus Christ as Master, Savior and LORD…  Such Christian blessedness is untouchable as Jesus says: “No one, will take your joy from you.”  — John 16:22

comforting those who mourn  goes deeper than to just express sorrow or sadness like one mourning for the dead;  William Barclay offered this translation: 

O the Bliss of the man whose heart is broken for the world’s suffering and for his own sin, for out of his sorrow he will find the joy of God!

Calling peace-makers the sons of God means they shall be doing a God-like work…  more than just keeping the peace, but rather the highest task  a man could perform would be to establish right relationships between man and man.  As Wm. Barclay translated…”O the Bliss of those who produce right relationships between man and man, for they are doing a Godlike work!”                                                                                                                                    True joy and heavenly rewards found in the midst of persecution and false charges or evil spoken against those who follow Jesus and the truth of his teachings… by the saints who have gone before us and the living saints who publicly confess faith in Christ who lives in them in their words and actions. 

Who then are the Saints?                       In John’s Vision described as:  …a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. … wearing white robes & holding palm branches in their hands.  …they cried out in a loud voice:     “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” –Revelation  7:10

All angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures.  They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Amen!”

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “sir, you know.”

And he said, “these are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore,

“They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

In our litany of the baptized as the church on earth, … giving thanks for and remembering some of the living saints who have been baptized and have recently made a public affirmation of their baptism.  In our litany of the saints in light – the church in heaven, we will be remembering and giving thanks for some of the Christian servants who have finished their course in faith and now rest from their labors. 

The church at various times has also remembered and given thanks for those who have sacrificed their own lives and have not surrendered to the forces of evil who would persecute and torture them, but instead gave a faithful witness and claimed the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

One of the most famous of all the martyrs was Polycarp, the aged bishop of Smyrna.  The mob dragged him to the tribunal of the Roman magistrate.  He was given the inevitable choice—sacrifice to the godhead of Caesar or die. 

“Eighty and six years,” came the immortal reply “have I served Christ.  And he has done me no wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”  So they brought him to the stake, and he prayed his last prayer:  “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy well-beloved and ever-blessed son, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee…I thank thee that thou hast graciously thought me worthy of this day and of this hour.”  Here was the supreme opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to Jesus Christ.

To have to suffer persecution is, as Jesus himself said, the way to walk the same road as the prophets, and the saints, and the martyrs have walked.  To suffer for the right is to gain a share in a great succession.  The man who has to suffer something for his faith can throw back his head and say,

“Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.”

ALL PRAY:  Gracious Savior, keep my eyes ever focused on You and Your blessings, which are mine by grace alone.  “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Amen!”

(Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep our hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  (Amen.)

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