Renewed by Love 11-4-2019
Pastor Leta Arndt Behrens
Sermon Scripture: LUKE 6:20-31
20Then [Jesus] looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to
everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
My childhood was surrounded by my grandparents and great grandparents. I have many memories of being in their presence. For each of these grandparents and others in my life who have died, I have dates- so many dates that surround their lives here with me. Their birthdates and death dates–the very specific life dates that come up each year and sometimes my feelings on those days catch me by surprise. And also there are the dates that are more vague, the ones that hold memories of moments and events that contributed to our depth of relationship. And then there is this date- All Saints Day. A day given where we remember, celebrate, grieve, and mark these lives and their meaning in our life story. This date feels different for me because it is a day wrapped in the promises of God. It’s a day where we remember not so much who they were but who they are to us and how they are held with us in God’s story, the bigger story of life death and eternity. And how they and we together are blessing and light and how they and we together are blessed and given light- through the source of Christ as our light. It is a day we place ourselves in the light of renewal-renewal through memory, renewal through connection, renewal through love.
Jesus in these beatitudes from Luke is pronouncing a blessing. This blessing is not instructive, but it is descriptive. It is a blessing upon them that says you are blessed. You have this promise from God. You are infused with this light and with this love so you can respond, you can go, you can be free to love–love your people, love your enemies, love the moment in life that you have been given. This blessing is given to all the saints, all those who live in our memory AND all of those who sit by us and walk with us each and every day AND all those still come-the generations who will never know my grandparents are still connected.
This blessing on all saints day connects us through a renewed promise and sends us to be that which Jesus pronounces us–those who have agency and love to bring to the world.
This happens here today as we light candles and sing and pray together. This happens in our community of faith that gathers to bring our memories into one space and lift them to God. And it happens when we leave this place. We are still connected, still called blessed, still sent into a world that needs this renewal of love again and again.
I have a video to show you that I connect with and believe it demonstrates this blessing that we possess, that we don’t always see, but when we let the light come on and inspire, it is a way of living into the sainthood that is pronounced upon us.
Eattogether video 2:30
That is a gathering of saints–a coming together, a recognition of connection and a blessing of community dwelling in the movement of love. As you remember your loved ones, also remember you are a loved one and you have the calling and the gift to bring that love into the hallways, the elevators, the classrooms and parks, all the spaces big and small you are given to bring renewal with the love and light of Christ.
In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds us of this inheritance we have through the passing on of the faith in and of Christ. We set our hope and our renewal in this promise of the word of truth, the gospel of salvation and the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Linda Hogan, a native american writer, says it well when she reflects on All Saints day, she says, Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me. “Be Still” they say, “Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
God is the source of this love of the thousands. You are a result of the love that goes back to the beginning of time and extends well past the end of your time. You are claimed, named and sent out in that result of the love of God that ties you this ancestral and future eternal promise.