Sermons from St Faith's     

'For All the Saints'
Jackie Parry, 2nd November, 2014

The sermon on the mount is one of literatures most well known examples of Jesus’ teaching and has influenced thousands of people throughout the years, and has even led to great changes in the world.  Dietrich Bonheoffer’s exploration of this sermon led to him writing one of Christianity's greatest books, “the cost of discipleship” which influenced many people.  Gandhi gained tremendous strength from the beatitudes, calling the passages the grandest manifesto of non-violence ever written, and it is believed this influenced a statement of non violent resistance, which helped in setting India free from oppression.

The ‘sermon on the mount’ is one of my favourite passages in the Bible.  I feel it is a message of comfort, hope and faith.  It could be considered as just one single sermon which Jesus preached on one definite situation; but in fact it is the summary of his consistent teaching.  Jesus is talking to his disciples; but in fact he is talking to all Christians - all people who follow him. 

Every beatitude is a key principle to living a Godly life, and as such, brings blessings from God.  They are focussed positively on what we should be like, rather on what we should not do.  They do not merely keep us from evil but lend us to truth, because by the power of the Holy Spirit, the people of God can have the love and holiness of God as a dominant force in their lives.  An important lesson for the disciples then, and for Christians today.  Jesus is saying that God’s blessings lie not on the rich and powerful, but on the ordinary, everyday people, and this can bring much comfort and happiness to those who choose to follow God.

Many forms of happiness are temporary – they are here today and gone tomorrow.  People are looking for a way to deal with the challenges, the uncertainties, and the difficulties of life.  We want some assurance that the direction of our life will offer meaning and will connect us to something larger than our individual stories.   However, regardless of whether they are personal struggles or family matters, they are just as real and of no less concern to God.  And here, in the beatitudes, we hear that Jesus is saying everyone would be blessed by following these attitudes, actions and priorities which bring joy to the heart of God. 

Today we celebrate the feast day of All Saints and this is an opportunity for believers to remember all saints and martyrs, known and unknown, throughout Christian history.  Of course, the Church – the Christian community – has always looked up to the saint and martyrs because their lives were especially holy; the witness of their lives is a great encouragement to all.  They were notable exemplars of the Christian faith, in one way or another.  They were ordinary men and women who lived their lives in faith and who touched the hearts of many, but who may also have been persecuted for their faith. 

This morning we celebrate the saints and martyrs of yesterday, but who are the saints of today? These are the ordinary men and women who strive to do their best for humankind.  Who fight for the greater good; who stand against injustice. 

There are also people who are known to us personally and are present in our day-to-day life; who touch our lives in perhaps small ways; by saying a kind word, by being a good friend, by standing by us and supporting us when others might walk away; by saying to us, “I’m here for you.”

There are other men and women of faith, who have strived to make the world a better place in the past and continue to do so in the present.  These people, and many more, are not saints as such, but are the everyday, ordinary people who care and do good, or “saintly”, things in peoples’ lives, in God’s name. 

We probably wouldn’t read about them in any church history book and they may not be famous, but they are simply people who touch our lives and help us in our journey with God, and maybe known only to you.
Let’s just take a moment to think about that.  Think about who the people are in your life who have done something good, who have been an influence in some way, who have helped to put you on the right path, or perhaps have guided you in your faith? 
Who are the ones who have led you to this place today, to this church, to worship God?  Who are special to you?  Who are those saintly people who have touched your life?  It is good to remember and give thanks. 
And that is what All Saints Day is all about.  Setting aside a day each year to remember and to thank God, not only for all the saints which are recorded in history, but also the saintly people whose names may not be recorded in the churches history books, but whose names and faces are recorded in our hearts and our memories. 

Some of them may be long gone, some more recently, and some are still alive and continue to play a part in our lives.  But the one thing in common with the saints of the past and the saintly people of the present is the love of God.  And in that love, God’s grace and compassion shines and flows through them, touching those around them, and following Christ’s teaching in the Beatitudes, bringing comfort, hope and peace…

Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who feel the weight of the worlds suffering,
the humble, those who long for what is right and good,
those who show mercy and compassion,
those who are pure in heart who don’t have any room for bitterness, anger or avarice,
those who work for peace, and are willing to accept the ridicule and derision of others in order to stand up for what is right and good.” 

Today we are invited to walk the path of the saints, the way of the Beatitudes.  The way may be narrow and hard, and we need faith and courage to walk it, but by the example of the saints and with their prayers, this will encourage us and help us on this path.

Christians are called to be loving, kind, compassionate, generous and faithful people.  This is the way God created us to be.  And when we live according to God’s will, we experience life to its fullest, and we may even be one of those people who will bring joy and comfort to others, in God’s name.

Sermon: 2nd November 2014 St Faiths, Great Crosby.
Readings: Rev 7: 9-end, 1 John 4:1-3, Matthew 5: 1-12 (Beatitudes and All Saints Day)

                                                                                                  Jackie Parry                                                       Jackie Parry

The sermons index page

Return to St Faith's home page