Sunday is a special day in the life of the Church as we will be celebrating All Saints Sunday. The United Methodist Church understands “saints” in the New Testament sense of the word which includes Christians of all places and times. We’ll spend some time with a passage from the Book of Revelation that lifts up a vision of martyrs who came through “the great ordeal” to gather around God’s throne where there was no more hunger, no more thirst and where every tear was wiped away from every eye. We’ll also look at the beatitudes from Matthew, familiar verses that reflect on the blessedness of those who are still living in the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the “now” and the “not yet” of this earthly life.
We’ll remember and honor the saints of our lives, specifically those who have died in this last year. We’ll share the names of beloved church members, family members and friends whom we have lost. We will give thanks for all they have shared with us and among us, remembering them with the refrain, “Absent from our midst…present with the Lord.” We give thanks for each of their lives that continues to shine in the lives of all who love and remember them.
I encourage you in these coming days to spend some time reflecting on the saints of your life. Find some quiet time and invite the memory of those people to return to your heart, mind and spirit. Remember the ways that their wisdom, love, guidance or witness has shaped you and your faith. Take a few minutes as well to reflect on ways you might be or be becoming a saint in the life of another!
I hope you’ll join us on Sunday for our livestream worship at 9:00. Please know that all are welcome to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions that are listed below. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please notify the church office or Pastor Lori and we’ll send you the Zoom link. Drop-ins are welcome! Looking forward to being together on Sunday!
This Sunday will also be Communion Sunday, so don’t forget the bread and juice! During these times of uncertainty, committing to a monthly contribution is difficult, especially for those who have lost their livelihoods to the pandemic. We want to uplift these members of our church family and invite you to give what you can. If you’d like to make a Communion Offering, please visit this link: www.pbumc.org/give.
After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. They cried out with a loud voice:
“Victory belongs to our God
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
All the angels stood in a circle around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, saying,
“Amen! Blessing and glory
and wisdom and thanksgiving
and honor and power and might
be to our God forever and always. Amen.”
Then one of the elders said to me, “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
Then he said to me, “These people have come out of great hardship. They have washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. This is the reason they are before God’s throne. They worship him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. They won’t hunger or thirst anymore. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up a mountain. He sat down and his disciples came to him. He taught them, saying:
“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.
“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.
“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.
“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.
“Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.
“Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.
“Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.
Consider these questions:
- What does the word “blessing” mean to you or evoke for you?
- How does it feel or what does it mean to live in the “now” and the “not yet”? How does your faith support you in that?
- Who are the saints of your life? Who has shaped, loved, encouraged and guided you in ways that have shaped your life, your faith, your personhood?
What does the word “blessing” mean to you or evoke for you?
I was so sorry to see “Happy” substitute for “blessed” (Makarios). I saw this in the Jesus Seminar and I think it is also Peterson’s take.
I also did not like “hopeless” for “poor in spirit.” My research points me to the Greek to mean something like a beggar (toxoi).
I am using the word “blessing” in a non-egotistical sense to mean what I used to mean when I said “fortunate” or “lucky.” I do not believe in the goddess Fortuna, and I don’t believe in luck–let the people visiting Las Vegas believe in those things. I am trying to iron out of my mind, heart and soul the “lucky” sentiments entirely. A result is that I am now surrounded by blessings on every hand.