Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

All Saints Day, Cycle A

November 1 or the First Sunday in November

The relationship between God and the “saints” is the basic theme of these texts and of this occasion. The “saints,” as the term is used here, are the holy People of God. They are “holy” because of their relationship with God, who is ultimately “Holy.” This includes the holy People of God who are still living and are in a covenantal relationship with God here and now, and those who have lived and died with faith in God and are perceived as being with God in a wondrous way now. Some Christians perceive the “saints” in a narrow, limited sense that may even be restricted to their own denomination or local fellowship. Other Christians have a much more open and broad perception of the holy People of God in which God, rather than they, keep the statistical records.

As we pause to remember on this occasion those loved by us who have died within the past year or within the scope of our memories, we have a point of contact with the writers of the texts selected for this week. Let us acclaim the writers of these texts, along with those loved by us who have died within the scope of our memories, without worshiping them. Let us boldly worship God, if we are Christians, as God is perceived within Christianity, as Creator Father of Jesus and of all of us throughout the expanse of time and space, as Redeeming Son, the Risen Christ our Savior, and as Living, Active, Sustaining Spirit, continually involved in our lives.

Revelation 7:9-17
The intimate relationship between God and the People of God in the great multitude of those gathered around the throne of God is beautifully expressed in this text. These verses provide great comfort to the afflicted in all times. They provide for us a graphic illustration of the life to come with God that we, by the grace of God, joyfully anticipate.

Psalm 34:1-10, 22
Perhaps a Beatitude Wisdom Psalm such as Psalm 1, or perhaps Psalm 24 would be more appropriate for us to be used along with the Matthean Beatitudes on this occasion than are these portions of Psalm 34. Nevertheless, the reference to the afflicted humble ones hearing the psalmist has a point of contact with Matthew 5:5, and the mention of “his holy ones” (saints) in Psalm 34:9 forms an important association with the “All Saints” theme of this day. Psalm 34 has many of the characteristics of an individual Hymn of Praise. The psalmist bears testimony to the Lord and invites the other members of the congregation to join with the psalmist in proclaiming the glory of the Lord. It should be noted that in this psalm “his holy ones” (saints) are holy already in this life.

1 John 3:1-3
The followers of Jesus who have remained within the Johannine community of faith at the time of the writing of this theological treatise, in words that are similar in some respects to a “pep talk” that a football coach might give to the players who had remained on the team until the final game of a no-win season, are called “children of God” here. There is anticipation in this text that the life to come with God and with Jesus the Risen Christ will be far better than the present life with its discouragements and turmoil. The anticipation is that in the “next season,” our eternal life, our relationship with God will be much closer and better than anything we can imagine now. It is that way also for us.

Matthew 5:1-12
The main body of this text (5:3-10), the Matthean Beatitudes proper, is an excellent collection of “happiness sayings.” It is likely that this collection is based on words Jesus expressed many times in his concern for his fellow Jewish people who were suffering along with him as a result of the Roman occupation of the area by the time Jesus was crucified had been endured for eighty to ninety years and was becoming increasingly oppressive.

There is no doubt that the Jesus of history, followed and loved by significant numbers of his poor and oppressed fellow Jews such as those depicted in these sayings, appeared to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor in Jerusalem, to be a Jewish Messiah figure, a person who might be acclaimed as a potential “King of the Jews.” Therefore, Pilate ordered the crucifixion of Jesus and instructed his officers to post the designation “King of the Jews” on his cross in order to demonstrate to the oppressed Jews that this is what we, the Romans, do to anyone among you whom you would like to have as your “king.” It was a horribly effective insult to the Jewish people.

We should focus our attention, therefore, as we use this text on the principal Beatitudes in 5:3-10 and view them from the perspective of those who are poor and oppressed today, both in other nations and in our own. We should remember that the poor in these Beatitudes are poor because they are oppressed. The oppressed are always poor. Perhaps also the poor are always oppressed. The poor are not necessarily lazy. If we understand this and if we proclaim this, perhaps we will see that a few poor and oppressed people may become interested in worshiping God together with us in our congregations, joining with us as additional “saints.” Do we have room for them?

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen