Blessed Are They
Maple Grove UMC
All Saints Day//November 1, 2020
Rev. Patricia Wagner
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Steve Clary just sang for us “Shall We Gather at the River,”
a song that is traditionally sung here as we light the candles
in memory of those we loved, like Steve’s mother Janet. It expresses a hope that we shall see one another,
just beyond the river that separates us
from those who’ve crossed over.
We cannot fathom their existence their form and nature,
but envision them in a blessed state,
from John at Patmos: Revelation 21:
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among morals. They will be God’s people, and God’s own self will be with them and be their God. 4 God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more, mourning or crying or pain no more.”
How blessed are they!
But how about us, here and now
who miss them?
Jan Richardson says,
when our heart is held by someone in eternity, we do not live only in this world.
Kate Bowler has a podcast, “Everything Happens” and tells the story of when she was 19
and volunteered after a flood
in her friends’ neighborhood.
She was helping out at a house where everything was waterlogged.
I was cleaning out this yard, throwing clothes and headboards, and old
board games into a dumpster,
and I reached for this tricycle
and everyone around me all at once yelled.
No, no, no, no, not that.
My first thought was:
But this neighbor doesn’t have a kid.
I knew he lived alone.
But my friends said quietly,
Oh, no, that’s Chris’s tricycle. They lost him when he was four.
And the man said to me,
Yes, I’m sorry. I’ll need to keep that.
I will become a lot of things,
but I need to remember that I was that kid’s dad.
On where floods of various kinds keep coming and take things away,
health, relationships, work, income,
we can lose the landmarks of who we are
this father remembered the blessedness of being a father.
and held it fast.
Blessed are those who mourn,
and their blessing
is not that she shall not grieve but they shall be ministered to,
Blessed are the poor in spirit for God’s kingdom is theirs. weighed down by the world? God identifies with you
and says, you belong to my kingdom.
Over and over we hear from him
we see in him that our blessedness
is not revealed in our good fortune,
but in the problems of everyday life
as well as devastation and utter loss,
Jan says: “blessings emerge from those experiences
and speak to them”
The dim light that breaks into the darkness,
the balm that is friendship the river that is grace, all reassure us despite our disbelief, that God is present with us.
Blessings come that help us perceive the grace that threads through our lives. That assures us even when we have a hard time believing it
You’re not denying anything that has transpired but you are taking the pieces of the broken heart and sitting with them and waiting to see what the spirit is going to create with the pieces, knowing that it will never be the same.
So here we are, on the cusp of a momentous election, in the throws of a pandemic and an economic upending. We are mourning and worried and wondering if we dare hope.
Life’s precariousness and fragility and unpredictability overwhelm.
Yet there is this sense that if we stay alive and awake, that thread of grace will keep emerging in the warp and weave and muck of our lives.That we, like they, on the other side of the river who hold our hearts, are blessed. That even our shattered hearts are whole. And we can sing even through our tears,
Glory, glory, glory.