Monday, December 10, 2012

Sermon for 04 November 2012, All Saints' Sunday

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
Matthew 5:1-12
Peace, Mercy, and Blessing
All Saints' Sunday, 04 November 2012
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
We need the peace of God. We need peace which surpasses all understanding. We need peace that the world cannot give. We need peace that the world cannot even understand. The grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus by the work of God the Holy Spirit. Only His peace is truly satisfying, comforting peace.
The world around us is in turmoil. It always has been. It will be until Christ returns and brings about the new heaven and new earth. The turmoil we see and experience is not merely because politicians clamor for the vote of a divided nation. It is not merely because the nation and the world have a sluggish economy. The turmoil cannot even be blamed on wars, rumors of wars, or the threat and reality of terrorism. The turmoil of the world around us exists because of sin. We live in a fallen world. The original sin of our original parents has accumulated and compounded unholy interest. And we sin ourselves because we are sinners, born in the image of Adam.
Thus says the law of God. And we have heard the proclamation of law again today, just as we heard it from Romans 3:23 last week: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:24 and following proclaim the Gospel we need to hear: and [all] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…
Both Law and Gospel are clear in these brief verses from Romans 3. Today’s Holy Gospel, the Beatitudes, the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, are both Law and Gospel.
Seeing the crowds, [Jesus] he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
That Jesus needed to teach His disciples and the crowds is Law. Did they not heed the Prophets, Psalms, and Writings that we call the Old Testament? They had Moses. Why did they not listen to him and follow the Word of the Lord He shared?
That Jesus taught them and teaches us is also Gospel, gift. The Lord Himself knows what we need and He provides it alongside our daily bread, for man does not live by bread alone.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We are poor, miserable sinners, those who are condemned because of original sin and our own. Here our Lord calls for repentant, humble faith, faith He gives us as gift in the Kingdom of Heaven. We are not as poor in spirit as we ought to be. His Spirit works sorrow, contrition, and repentance within us. The faith He instills in us responds to the Gospel and we are salt and light, serving our Lord by serving His people. And those around us see the good works He preplanned for us to do and praise our Father in Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
We mourn more than we know. Everybody has something going on in their lives. God bless us with the kindness, thoughtfulness, and selflessness to ask! We mourn the loss of those we love who have died. We will be reunited in heaven and in the Resurrection with those who have died in the faith. We mourn the loss of relationships due to strain, sin, or distance. We mourn the loss of homes, jobs, or dreams that are no longer possible. Jesus’ comfort is for you.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Meek” reminds us of “meek and mild.” “Meek” is such a contrast to arrogance, derision, and attitudes that are condescending or patronizing. This promise of blessing from Jesus is probably the least understood thus far. It is an ultimate fulfillment of the Gospel of the Lord to Abraham: a Promised Land. Instead of a mere strip of land nations and peoples have fought over for thousands of years, the meek will inherit the earth, the new heaven and new earth, the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
God indeed gives us our daily bread, all that we need to support this body and life. He gives you His very Word. Man does not live by bread alone. We need His Word to sustain us when physical bread is scarce, unpalatable, or too expensive, when there is too much month at the end of the money. The Lord Himself gives you forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus Christ alone. He gives you mercy, grace, and peace that surpasses all understanding. He satisfies your hunger and thirst for His righteousness by giving you His own righteousness in place of our unrighteousness, sin, and disobedience. He is living water. He is the bread of life. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, through Whom alone we have access to the Father. By His strength we reject false gods and those who teach a salvation by works without Christ.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
This beatitude foreshadows “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we refuse to forgive, we will not benefit from the Lord’s forgiveness to us. If the Lord can forgive that other person who did you wrong, who are we to doubt the Lord’s own judgment. Mercy is yours in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
The Lord has answered the prayer of King David again by create in us clean hearts and renewing a right spirit. We lost the image of God in the fall of Adam. God has begun the restoration of that image in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion. He dwells with us by His Spirit for our bodies are His own temples. He abides with two or three who call upon His name in worship. He delights to be present where He has caused His name to dwell. And one day, we will see Him face to face.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
World peace is a worthy goal. Ultimately, true peace is impossible this side of heaven. We are given to be at peace with others. We are allowed to defend ourselves and others if others will not be at peace with us. Jesus Christ is our Christmas-born Prince of Peace. He gives us peace with God and the opportunity to reconcile with one another.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Persecution is alive and well. Central Africa is a dangerous place, for Christians and Muslims have nearly equal numbers. We pray for those who are not allowed to legally assemble for worship of the one true God according to Scripture. We pray for all who are not allowed free exercise of Biblical religion. We pray for all who are not allowed to pray aloud, pray publicly, or pray in Jesus’ Name. Pray for own country, the United States of America, that we may retain all that our founders intended with regard to freedom of religion. And we are blessed to elect our own leaders and even run for office as Christian citizens.
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.
Persecution continues around the world. Christians suffer ridicule, prison, or even death rather than give up the blessings of life and eternal life in Jesus. The Lord grant us faithfulness and boldness as we sing His praises, tell the good news about Jesus, and live as the blessed baptized of the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.