Matthew 5:6-9 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Across the spectrum came an invasive and all pervasive evil, overflowing with darkness and foreboding, spreading gloom and despair across the face of the earth. It didn’t just dampen the spirit, but it was of the magnitude to quench all hope. And it was only twilight, the darkness was not yet here. The many hours of the night watch were yet to come, who could say whether morning would come? Or if morning did come, who could say what it might find?
It’s not just Halloween, or a scary movie, some see such things every night in the evening news. Why is there no shortage of bad news? Why does the bad news always seem to get worse? The answer is simple – bad always looks worse, when there is nothing to balance it. It used to be a choice, which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Of course it used to be, that home on the range, never was heard a discouraging word – while now it seems that what is never heard is an encouraging word. Where can a body turn?
In some ways it’s a question of balance, in a civilized world, where citizens abide the law, and virtue is rewarded – sometimes people might wonder what would happen if everyone did what they wanted – and then to see evil, is to be reminded that the law was given for our protection. But increasingly, we no longer live in a civilized world, and such portrayal of evil do not encourage us to be good, but only lead to despair.
I said it was a question of balance because while it is important to see sin as sin, to see it deserves punishment, to see a need for change – someone needs to tell the good news – that is, that evil does not win the day, that something has conquered sin death and the devil, that there is something more powerful than evil – and that is God, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact the breakdown of society, as bad as it is, could also be looked upon as an opportunity for the Gospel. For when things look that dark, and hope seems but a dying ember, that is when people most need to hear the gospel.
And so it is that we have a day to remember all God’s Saints. For while many may say that no one is perfect, those whose life is hid with God in Christ have been changed. In Jesus blood our sins are washed away, and we are born again. And all those things spoken of in the Beatitudes, its not more stuff for us to do, but it is rather what God has done for us, and the change wrought in us by grace through faith in Christ. Sometimes it is hard to see it in ourselves.
And so it is good to remember that salvation is not just something between me and God. And that God has given us brother and sisters who also walk with us in faith as together we follow our Savior. It is often easier for us to see the hand of God at work in their lives. The church is filled with saints, but sometimes we have trouble seeing them. And some of the trouble might be as simple as that their stories are rarely told. And some if it might be a humility that does not want to tell ones own story, least it be seen as boasting.
And so, for the sake of humility, our attention focuses on the saints triumphant, who having died in faith, now have found rest in Christ. They may have been our teachers, pastors, parents, friends, or other relation, but as they touched our lives they brought Christ with them, in their words, in their deeds, in their lives. A Gospel light was lit at their baptism, and they carried it faithfully until God called them home. And every where that light shined, it pointed people to the cross of Christ, and told the story of a victory over sin death and the devil, and of salvation, forgiveness and eternal life which come to us in Christ. It may be an old, old story, but not only do we long to hear it over and over again – but the whole world is searching for such a hope.
And so we pause today to remember the saints, who having finished their labors, now rest in peace, in Christ. We give thanks for their witness, and their faith. We give thanks for their example, and for having the opportunity to see Good working in their lives, making them the blessed who by their faith are a blessing to others. And we pray that we might learn to see this in each other, in ourselves, and that by grace through faith we also, might be examples to others as we follow our Savior.