Readings 27 Oct 2002
[All Saints Day]
Revelation 7: 9 - 17
The picture in this section of John's prophecy is of a great multitude of people - from every nation, tribe and language - gathered before God singing loud praises. It is a picture of ultimate worship, of praise, glory, honor, power and strength to God - eternally. And who is this vast throng? They are the ones who have survived "the great tribulation" (which the church of the day that first read this was in the middle of!). Now they are lifted from hunger and thirst to living water and God "wiping away their every tear". This passage is clearly set for today as we mark "All Saints Day" - the occasion in the year of the church to mark that we are - each and every person who has humbly followed Christ throughout the history of the church and the world - saints!
Psalm 34: 1 - 11, 22
This psalm is linked to today's readings, All Saints Day, in its call to the "saints" to "fear the Lord" (verse 9). It carries the popular refrain, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." Tradition has made this psalm was the prayer of David when feigning insanity (I Samuel 21). The psalm notes that the "poor man calls to the Lord" who "saves him out of all his troubles". There is refuge (verse 8) for all in God!
1 John 3: 1 - 3
One of the greatest of tragedies in the world of the New Testament was for people to be without the care of parents - orphaned, abandoned, outcast because of the circumstances of the birth. It remains so in our world today! And yet here - all are called "children of God" by the love of a Heavenly Father. This is, the epistle says, a "purifying hope". We don't know what the next part of the story is - "What we will be has not yet been made known" (verse 2). But we know whose we are and where we belong - as children of God.
Matthew 5: 1 - 12
The blessings here speak of and describe the world for which God comes: that God identifies with and is present to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the pure in heart and the peacemakers. As Jesus speaks God's blessings upon such as these, even as the world passes them by and overlooks them, a new world is established. People bearing these characteristics and circumstances are made happy by God.
Comment: [Early Sermon thoughts]
Why does the lectionary revert back to the Beatitudes today? On all saints day? What is this telling us? I see the link in the pathway to happiness; that happiness is in the small things, the un-noticed acts of humility, the moment-by-moment giving to others around us. In the 'minor acts' of living is God made known and we are (all) turned into 'saints'.