So Jesus gave this mini-sermon to His disciples, who were evidently poor, hungry, mourning the loss of a loved one, and even felt hated-against by others. He tried to speak some form of consolation for these ones he cherished, who came from such a wide variety of circumstances: jobs, family life, who had to leave so much behind to follow Him, to trust Him, to place their whole life in His hands. But do these words, these Beatitudes, we call them, offer much comfort at all not only to His disciples then, but to us now, His now-living disciples?
That is what we are, in case we have forgotten that. We are Jesus’ disciples called out of a variety of circumstances: jobs, family life, called to leave so much behind in terms of popularity and wealth and social status in order to live a life of service and humility in following this sacrificing Savior into our communities and beyond. Through the waters of baptism we are all claimed by God to be the Son’s disciples right now. In addition, we are shaped into saints, not because of so many miraculous works we have done over a lifetime, but because of what God did for us through Jesus Christ on the cross and out of the empty tomb. So yes, in case we have forgotten at any point along the way of this faith journey, we are and always have been saints and disciples of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, we still come with our fair share of circumstances, to say the least, just as the disciples did when they heard these lofty words of hope from their Lord, and also our Lord. They left behind comforts of home, stable sources of income and endured second-guessing from their friends, and even, just like us on this All Saints’ Sunday, mourning those they lost along the way. And so Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
Well that’s great, Jesus, but that doesn’t help us right now. Sure, at some point in the future we will share laughter with our family over a precious memory, but what about right now? Or are the disciples then, and even us now, not allowed to question Jesus like that? Are we not allowed to struggle with this faith journey, with this duty to live as His disciples? Are we not allowed to have doubts and worries and fears with this life? Are we supposed to be these picturesque perfect saints that we’ve come to envision over the generations, even better than the Mother Teresa’s of the world? However, we have come to learn even she endured her dark nights of the soul. Evidently it’s okay to still be human and yet claimed by God as saints, as disciples of Jesus Christ. Evidently God is not expecting perfection. God is simply expecting us, including with all our circumstances, doubts, worries, and fears thrown in, because God knows we also come with gifts, with love, with beauty; because God was there in shaping us exactly that way throughout our life.
So if we are allowed to come with our questions and wonders, what exactly do we do with Jesus on this All Saints’ Sunday, when we look back at all those saints who came before us, whom we have lost and still desperately miss? What exactly do we do with, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh?” Do we just sit back and wait for that day when God gathers us all together in the Kingdom with all our loved ones and we instead share these overwhelming tears of laughter and joy? Is Jesus just trying to make us be patient for that day way into the future? Or is Jesus up to something else through those words? Can Jesus be up to something through those very disciples who heard those words long ago, and they didn’t even realize it? Can Jesus be up to something through us, his now-living disciples and saints?
This is All Saints’ Sunday, after all: not just for those who have died, but for us with the responsibility to be saints for the sake of the world, including here for each other, including for those who weep. Evidently Jesus is under the impression He can work through us right now to bring joy onto the scene of weeping and sadness. Evidently Jesus seriously thinks He can bring laughter to despair through us, through our own brokenness, our own humility, our own wearied bodies. Evidently Jesus is still in the Resurrection ministry, bringing life to the face of death, and He has us in mind to do exactly that.
The disciples way back when had no idea what was about to happen to them following this soon-to-be Risen Savior of the world. And quite frankly neither do we: we would rather push off the titles of saint and disciple. We will gladly let other people take that on. We will instead pray to God for God to go to work through them. But that’s not way it works. God has already reeled us in through our baptism. We are saints. We are disciples through the overwhelming grace of God. So be careful, saints and disciples, when you pray, because God will find a way to go to work through you, because the Resurrection ministry is still alive and well. Laughter will most certainly be brought to the scene of weeping, because Christ is still Risen indeed for the care of all the saints. And for that, we most certainly give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon