All Saints reflection
Fortunate are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Fortunate are you when others despise 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.
We hear blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven, God Almightyâ€™s Kingdom, that belongs to all those who He has justified through Jesus; for all those saints who have gone before. Itâ€™s always a bit funny, or rather strange, talking about our Christian brothers and sisters who have died. There again is the pain of loss, of what could have been, that sorrow at sin and its final consequence; but also the comfort and joy that those who rest in Jesus, baptised into His death, will surely rise again with Him on the last day, or maybe theyâ€™ve joined up with the angels singing Godâ€™s praise in His glorious presence as Revelation shows us. We donâ€™t know exactly what happens after a Christian dies, God only saw fit to write down that we will find our ultimate rest and peace in Jesus Christ His Son.
But I am not talking to the saints whoâ€™ve gone before, but rather to you, the saints still in the war. Fighting against temptation, against fear, despair your own sin, even the sins of those down the street. We are still in the thick of it, and just like many farmers in this drought we are called to be vigilant all the time. Are you?
Do you always reject temptation? Do you realise that you cannot live on your own? Are these beatitudes things that you need to do, Godâ€™s Law for you? Jesus was teaching His followers when He spoke these beatitudes. Fortunate/blessed/happy are the poor in spirit, the crushed and broken, those who have no self assurance, no self esteem, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; do you hunger for something when youâ€™re full, or when you donâ€™t have it? Rather than Godâ€™s Command these are promises for who? In the final one we hear who Jesus is talking to: Fortunate are you, Jesus says, when you are despised and persecuted for His sake, rejoice and be glad.
And you are blessed and fortunate because you have been shown your sinful failings and been washed in the saving waters of Baptism, as that saint who came before us said in his letter to the Romans (6:1-11), in baptism we are joined to Christ in His death and so too you and all the saints who have gone before, all those who knew their need and received Christâ€™s righteousness, all of us have suffered under sin, but will be ultimately be united together in His resurrection, on the last day.
Pastor Joseph Graham.