All Saints Sunday – Sermon 76

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ


The Saints – who are they?
How would you describe a Saint?

–Somebody Famous – somebody special – Some body Great? – Someone who’s name is in the big red book? – or the big black one ?

The writer of revelation calls them – “a vast throng …who have washed their robes – and made them white – in the Blood of the Lamb”–

If you managed to get to the Lent groups earlier this year you might remember Paul’s definition – he addresses the people of the church at Corinth as – “those who are sanctified in Christ and called to be Saints”

In the first few centuries after Jesus’ death – the chief qualification for sainthood – was to be able to perform miracles – a bit later on – it was not how you lived – but how you died for God – that counted – except for John the Baptist – all the Saints days in our Christian calendar mark the dates of their deaths – not their birth –

The grandparents of a little girl – brought her into the church – to show her the images of the saints in the stained glass windows –when they’d finished – they asked her to describe what she thought a Saint was

Her answer was simple – “somebody who the light shines through” –

being a Saint is about being Christ-like – And Jesus has some very clear ideas about the qualities we would need for that –

Point 1    Beatitudes – first 4

In our gospel reading – we have what we call – the Be-attitudes – teaching from Jesus in simple rhythmic verse – about what it means to put God first – 8 foundation stones – or 8 steps that we need to climb – if we want to Be more like Jesus –

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit – the Kingdom of heaven is theirs” –

We first have to recognize that we’re Spiritually broke – we need God’s help – we haven’t got the resources by ourselves to fight off evil –

From a very early age – society encourages us to “stand on our own two feet”– and – “take control of our lives” – Jesus turns that thinking upside down – to survive – He says – we must let God take charge – when you think about it – it makes a lot of sense after all – only God can see the big picture –

And a Jesus reminds us – making that first important step towards God – opens up the whole of His kingdom to us –

“Blessed are the sorrowful; they shall find consolation”

This step is about breaking – our breaking –at all the suffering in the world – at all the sin we have caused – its about looking around us and looking in the mirror – and realizing how far off track – we’ve strayed –

Its only when our own hearts become broken – that we become more sensitive to the pain and suffering of others – Only a broken heart is big enough to receive God’s compassion for the world – and only when we repent of our sins will we realize how big that compassion is –

“Blessed are the gentle, they shall have the earth for possession”

this is Jesus’ answer to the pain and suffering we inflict on each other –

Gentle here means “God’s power in control” –
In other words – someone whose life has been brought under the influence of God and the Holy Spirit – its about putting God in the driving seat – and letting Him make the decisions –

Jesus tells us – it’s not the pushers and the go-getters that will inherit the earth – but those who know their need for God – and of each other –

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail”

It’s likely that none of us – have ever experienced real hunger – or thirst – but that’s the image Jesus gives us – when it comes to maintaining a right relationship with God – keeping right with God – must be the number one thing we desire – because in the end it – it can mean the difference between life and death –

These first four Be-attitudes are about the changes that need to happen inside us – they’re all about opening up our hearts to God – taking away the clutter – and making a space within us – in which God can act – so that He can begin to make a real difference to our lives – and so that we can understand better what it means – to follow His ways – which leads us on to the next four Be-attitiudes

Point 2    The second 4 beattitudes


These deal with the outward stuff – our response to those changes inside –
“Blessed are those who show mercy, mercy shall be shown to them”

Showing mercy is about seeing with the eyes of others – feeling their feelings – thinking their thoughts – understanding their experiences – as Paul writes in 1 Cor 9;22 “ I have become all things to all men – so that I might save some”

Those who practice Gods mercy – can expect to receive God’s mercy – This doesn’t mean that God’s love is conditional – its because we see – others as we see ourselves – sinners in need of God’s grace –

God expects those He has filled – to overflow that love on to others – Forgive us our sins – as we forgive those who sin against us –

“Blessed are those whose hearts are pure; they shall see God”

Jesus said that it’s what comes out of us that makes us unclean –not our circumstances – purity of heart is about be single-minded – when it comes to our relationship with God – its about only filling our hearts with God things –

We know we can’t be perfect – like Jesus – but we can take off our masks and offer our true selves – totally and honestly – to Him

The more we fill ourselves with God – the more we will know of Him – and see of Him – and the more we know what to look for –

“ Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called children of God”

Peace-keepers are rare – Peacemakers are even rarer – they know that peace at any price won’t do – you can’t solve things by covering them up –

Peacemakers are bridge builders – they help to change peoples lives – actively overcome evil with good – to be a Peace maker takes real courage –they know that real peace is only possible through Jesus Christ –

“Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right; the kingdom of heaven is theirs”

right means more than being good – more than doing the right thing –

The last Beatitude is about the hardships of being a Christian – this move from peace to persecution is deliberate – Christian life is no bed of roses – true discipleship is costly – we will be persecuted because of our allegiance to Jesus –

Whether we are – in school – at work – out and about with friends – to be a Christian there’s a price to be pay –

Jesus applies this last Beatitude directly to His disciples –

Just as He was abused and slandered during His short time on the earth – it should be no surprise therefore that His followers will receive the same –

The words of God are like a two edged sword – it cuts both ways – for His followers His word gives hope and help – for those who reject Him it disturbs and cuts into their way of life –

Jesus refuses to pull the wool over our eyes – this last step is a hard step – to be a Saint we must be Christ over all


Point 3 


So there we are – that’s some Job description –

How do you think you fair? –

C.S. Lewis described this list as “being knocked flat in the face with a sledgehammer” – no one He said – “can read these words with pleasure” –

Jesus turned the values of His day upside down –He lifted standards to almost unbelievable heights

But along with those standards He brought the power by which we can reach them – The Holy Spirit – No matter where we are on the ladder – the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to take another step –

Jesus’ road to God is paved with love and compassion – there’s no highway code of rules and regulations – When it comes down to it – This 8 step job description – points us to God – through two simple sentences –

Love God with all your heart and with all our mind and with all our strength – (the first 4 Beatitudes)

And to Love your neighbour as yourself – (the last 4 Beatitdes)

100% love – is a tough assignment – it’s easy to get discouraged – but we have to aim high –to score high –

The Saints are people set apart from the crowd – they know that the Christian faith is a faith of Grace – and that God has done everything in His power to make it possible for us to know – grow – go and glow – with and in Him –

As John reminds us in our NT lesson – we are already children of God – not yet Christ-like – but becoming more and more like Him everyday –

What we’ve got to remember – is that we are not caterpillars trying to change ourselves into Butterflies – God has already done that bit –
What we are – is Butterflies – trying to learn how to spread our wings



So -to be or not to be – like Christ – that is the question – we all face – the saints before us have responded –
How will you respond?


Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit