sermons, songs, etceteras
This sermon was originally preached on November 5, 2023 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins, MN. The livestreams of contemporary and traditional services may be viewed here and here.
Read today's gospel ext (Matthew 5:1-12) here
Good morning. I come to you this morning with a heavy, broken heart — with the kind of grief I can neither deny, diminish, nor divert, even for the sake of a sermon. I am tasked with preaching about what it means to be “Blessed” according to Jesus’s teaching, and what’s ringing in my ears, as we enter a season of stewardship and accountability, is how often we’ve heard it said that these beatitudes are promises for individuals seeking personal holiness and heaven, when what I see with today’s eyes are promises of grief and oppression to a group of people - Jesus’s disciples - who will all suffer unimaginable pain and persecution before their lives are over.
It’s no accident that The Beatitudes are the gospel for All Saints Day: a day when the veil between the living and the dead is thinned, when we remember and commune with all the saints who’ve gone before us, and light candles in honor of all who now surround us in the great cloud of witnesses.
And this particular All Saints day is a day to grieve all the lives taken over these last weeks, days, and hours by the escalating genocide of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank.
Now, beloved, as much as I hate that word, as risky as it is to say, and as clear as we are that it must never be thrown around flippantly lest it lose its gravity, on this day of all days, as the dead surround and call us into communion, we must not provide coverage for evil through the words we choose and the ones we avoid.
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