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Blessed Are They Who Mourn

St. Matthew 5.1-12


All Saints' Sunday
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Nov 4, 2012 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 In the gospel we hear Jesus say:

[St. Matthew 5.4]

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Today we are they who mourn.  As we gather to remember and give thanks for our blessed dead, for some, our grief is still fresh and new.  For others it is no longer new, but has become as familiar as an old friend.  Whether our grief is new, or seasoned by time, we all mourn the saints who were near and dear to our hearts: mothers and fathers, husband and wives, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, dear friends all.  And yet, even though we mourn, we are blessed, for Christ himself offers us the comfort of unity with our blessed dead in his holy Church, and the promise of everlasting life with him, and them, in the world to come. 

2 As we mourn our blessed dead, Christ mourns with us.  As Christ wept and mourned for his dear friend Lazarus, so he mourns the death of our brothers and sisters in the faith.  So he mourns the death of every saint.  Christ grieves and mourns alongside each of us every time a loved one passes from this life—for God never intended for any of us to die.  But die we do, and even in death, Christ holds us dear in his heart.  The blessed David tells us:

[Psalm 116.15]

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

3 Every Christian is precious to Christ.  And that does not change in death.  All who die are precious in his sight.  They are precious to him in earthly life.  They are precious to him in death.  And they are precious even now as they rest in the peace of God and the light of heaven above.  All the saints, every one of them, are so precious to Christ that he unites himself with them in a bond of unity that can never be broken—not even in death.

4 St. Paul says:

[Romans 6.3-5]

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized in his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

5 In baptism, Christ unites himself with us.  In baptism, Christ welcomes us into the communion of the saints to live with him—and to die with him.  Those who we remember today were first united with Christ in water and word, perhaps at a font much like this one.  Their union with Christ was nourished and strengthened by God as he came to them in his Holy Word; as he dwelt with them in hi s divine acts of Absolution and Holy Communion.  Their bond with Christ was mad secure by Christ himself, by whose mercy and grace they were forgiven and made whole once more.  True to his promise to never us nor forsake us, Christ has now taken all the blessed dead to be with him where he is now, in the presence of the angels and of God the Father Almighty.  The bond of unity Christ creates with us is just as sure and certain in death as it is in earthly life.  For every saint who dies, dies in Christ.  St. Paul says:

[Romans 14.8]

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: wehtehr we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

6 And even in death, there is life with Christ.  Christ says:

[St. John 11.25-26]

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

All those who die with Christ, live with Christ.  They die with him in baptism, and from the font they rise to live a new life here on earth.  They die with him in physical death, and they will rise to live forever with him in heaven.  And just like Christ they will rise from the dead on the last day to live forever in glorified bodies, just like Christ, for they are one with their Lord in life and in death.  So today we recite their names and light a candle for each of them.  These candles remind us that our beloved dead are indeed blessed.  They are blessed with eternal life, and as the candles burn with light, so our beloved dead shine with the light of glory in the very presence of God.

7 Even now they live; our beloved dead and all those who have gone before us into glory now join together with us, the saints on earth, in the worship of Christ our Lord.  We are all united with Christ, whether in heaven above or on earth below.  And united with Christ, we are united with one another, and especially so in our worship of the Lord.  As they sing their praises in heaven, we sing with them on earth.  As they see Christ face to face, we see him with eyes of faith.  As they bow their knees before God's throne in heaven above, we bow our hearts here on earth along with them, in the presence of our risen Lord.  As we sing, pray, worship, and adore, our beloved dead join us in the praise of Christ our Lord. 

8 These blessings which Christ has granted to the blessed dead, he has also given us.  They are united with Christ, and so are we.  They know peace and rest in Christ, and so do we.  They have God's glory, wonder, and majesty, and so do we, for we, too have been united with Christ in Baptism.  Like our beloved dead, we, too are united with Christ in his death.  And like all the saints, we are one with Christ in his resurrection, which is the promise of our own resurrection.  And Christ has sealed this sacred promise in his very own blood.

9 Thus Christ can say:

[St. Matthew 5.4]

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

These are our blessings: union with Christ, reunion with our beloved dead, and everlasting life in the world to come.  All these are ours through our union with Christ Jesus our Lord.  thus blessed, we take comfort knowing that Christ himself mourns with us; that Christ himself comforts us with the promises of his Word, and nurtures our unity with him in his Holy Sacraments.  May these gifts of our Lord bring us comfort today, and every day, until he comes again in glory, and we see him face to face together with our beloved dead, who are with him even now.  Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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