November 2, 2014
Matthew 5:1-12
1 John 3:1-3
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22


For All the Saints
All Saints Day and Proper 26 | OT 31 | Pentecost 21


Click here for the full installment.


Leah Lonsbury

This Sunday many congregations will be celebrating All Saints Sunday. In the next installment of The Immediate Word, team member Leah Lonsbury notes that there are many misguided concepts about what it is that makes one a saint -- in particular, the common belief that only people who seem flawless are qualified to be referred to as saints. The All Saints lections provide us with some telling clues about what really constitutes sainthood -- and it’s no coincidence that the assigned gospel text is the Beatitudes. Despite our many flaws and imperfections, God’s grace makes us all saints... something we demonstrate by doing the Lord’s work (for which, Jesus tells us, our reward will be great in heaven). But being a saint, as Jesus reminds us in the Beatitudes, is an often unseen and thankless task that leads people to “revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

Leah illustrates this principle by looking at hidden saints -- those whose work often goes unrewarded and unappreciated by the world. There are many examples one could cite; among others Leah highlights is the plight of local translators and fixers in Afghanistan who have made themselves targets in order to work with Americans and other westerners. Despite the life-saving importance of their contributions -- and the fact that in choosing to aid Americans they have put their own lives and those of their families at risk -- the U.S. government’s labyrinthine bureaucracy has made it almost impossible for them to obtain special immigrant visas. That’s no small matter; as the U.S. withdraws its presence from Afghanistan, life has become much more deadly for them, as well as for NGO workers and other western expats. It seems cruel and unjustified to leave those who, in many respects, made our efforts in Afghanistan possible to the vagaries of existence without U.S. protection -- yet such peril is often the unfortunate lot of those who take up the mantle of sainthood. Indeed, Jesus continually cautions us against seeking rewards in this life, reminding us that those “who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Here’s a preview:

 

For All the Saints
by Leah Lonsbury
Matthew 5:1-12; Matthew 23:1-12

Many of us will be celebrating All Saints Day this Sunday, pausing to honor the lives of the members of our congregations who have died in the past year. But what is it exactly about a person that makes them a saint? William W. How gives us some ideas in his famous hymn “For All the Saints.” Saints, according to How, are those who profess their faith before the world; bless the name of Jesus; find shelter in God; look to the Lord in their faithful, bold, and “well-fought fight”; win the victor’s crown; and shine in glory.

Those sound like some pretty tough standards to live up to, right? 

What if our saint standards weren’t based on the Platonic ideal of perfection but looked more to our scriptures for guidance? What does Jesus say about what makes one great? Who will be exalted in the kin-dom Jesus is creating? Who will be qualified to be called blessed and known as saints? Who will be rewarded with God’s mercy and called children of God? 

It’s not who we might think.

Join us this week as we uncover some hidden and perhaps surprising saints whose work often goes unseen, unappreciated, and unrewarded. Just as Jesus warned his followers it would, this saintly work brings with it persecution and great personal risk. This All Saints Day we should all be paying attention, because despite our flaws and imperfections, God through grace is busy making us this kind of saint as well. 

Be ready. Next stop... sainthood.



>> Click here for the full installment.



>> Subscribe to The Immediate Word

What is The Immediate Word?

The Immediate Word gives a theological perspective on today's headlines and popular culture for your sermon, children’s sermon, and worship service. The Immediate Word gives a theological perspective on today's headlines and popular culture.

Cutting Edge: THE IMMEDIATE WORD gives you the tools to be cutting edge ... to put you in touch with today's most critical issues and to aid you in crafting messages and presentations that will truly help your congregants understand the Gospel in the context of what is current and most important to them.

Collaborative: THE IMMEDIATE WORD is a unique collaboration of some of the sharpest, most contemporary clergy of our day in an Internet-based service that gives you weekly information, inspiration, and presentation materials for your sermon, children’s sermon, and worship service.

Enabling: THE IMMEDIATE WORD will enable you to create high-impact sermons, children’s sermons, sermon outlines, worship services and compose pastoral prayers that help people pray with you, write compelling pastoral columns for your newsletter, arm your Sunday school teachers with meaningful, up-to-the-minute discussion sermon material, speak more constructively during the "Concerns of the Church" portion of your sermon, children's sermon and worship service about matters that worry your parishioners, advertise timely discussion topics to draw people into your church, and more.

Interactive: THE IMMEDIATE WORD is a dynamic, interactive process. First, among the team of clergy that creates it every week. Secondly, with you: you can personally participate in the creation process by providing your input and reactions to the input of others on new sermons, children’s sermons, sermon outlines and worship resources.

Timely: THE IMMEDIATE WORD sends participants the topic of the week on Friday and the final product on Tuesday afternoon, giving you time to digest the sermon and worship service materials and then incorporate them into your preparations for the coming Sunday service to deliver high-impact sermons and worship services.

Satisfaction Guaranteed: THE IMMEDIATE WORD is not only guaranteed to satisfy you, we believe it will actually energize your ministry. We are so confident that you will find THE IMMEDIATE WORD to be such a great value that if you are not completely satisfied with the service we will refund the balance of your subscription payment, no questions asked.

>> Subscribe to The Immediate Word
Immediate Word Team
(Click on photo
  for author's bio.)



George Reed


Mary Austin


Ronald H. Love


Dean Feldmeyer


Leah Lonsbury


Chris Keating