GodSpeak for the Week of November 4, 2018
“For ALL the Saints (Not Just Some of Them) – a Lutheran Understanding”
These past seven days have been bracketed by Reformation Sunday last week (with Reformation Day having been October 31) and All Saints Sunday today (with All Saints Day having been November 1).
A key idea of the Reformation was that when we speak of “saints,” we’re referring to ALL baptized Christians who are faithfully living as the body of Christ. It is good and right to respectfully remember examples of those who have faithfully embodied the Gospel. Where Lutheran-Christians have drawn the line, though, is in “venerating” the saints inasmuch as that results in us praying to and/or paying attention to their relics.
Day 1…Read Revelation 7:9-17
- Consider this – in John’s vision, he sees the “great multitude” in heaven; these saints who have faithfully served Christ.
- Answer this – what are some of the QUALITIES John describes them as having?
- From where do they get these qualities (hint – refer to v. 14)
Day 2…Read Revelation 7:9-17, again (focusing especially on v. 14)
- Answer this – what is the significance of the word “white” in this verse? What does it represent?
- Answer this – John is told that Christ’s blood has caused these robes to be white…how so? How does it do that?
Day 3…Read Matthew 5:1-5
- Consider this – as we did last week, we again consider the Beatitudes. If being “saintly” is to be faithful in embodying the Gospel and Christ, what do the Beatitudes show us about this?
- Consider this – the “poor in spirit” refers to those who are despised and/or oppressed AND who look to God to vindicate them.
- Answer this – who are Christians you can think of, who embody this trait?
- Consider this – “those who mourn” has to do with folks who grieve their sins along with the wickedness in the world.
- Answer this – who are the “saints” who have done this?
- Consider this – contrary to how we typically understand the word (i.e., those who shrink from hardship), the “meek” are those who are HUMBLE to their core and who are in awe of God’s greatness.
- Answer this – what “saint” can you think of who embodies this trait?
Day 4…Read Matthew 5:6-8
- Consider this – when Jesus talks about blessed are those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” He may be using imagery from a desert. We cannot CREATE the righteousness (only God through Christ can).
- Answer this – so what does the “hungering” and “thirsting” for righteousness do within us?
- Answer this – which Christian “saint” in our world embodies these traits?
- Consider this – in Jesus’ day-and-age “mercy” was in short supply. Roman culture didn’t have much time for mercy (it was a weakness). Jewish leaders of the time were self-righteous in their attitudes.
- Answer this – why is mercy so important…to Christ…in our world today?
- Answer this – how can mercy be a strength versus a perceived weakness? What can it do that harshness cannot?
Day 5…Read Matthew 5:8-9
- Consider this – “pure in heart” here carries the notion of singleness of purpose towards God. Those “pure in heart” are those singularly focused on living for and honoring God.
- Answer this – who can you think of who embodies this Beatitude?
- Consider this – “peace” in the sense Jesus is speaking of here – is not simply the absence of problems/arguments, etc. It is the spirit of the one who brings the qualities of blessing and harmony into everything and everyone they encounter.
- Answer this – who do you know who is able to be a “peacemaker” in the sense Jesus is speaking of, here?
Day 6…Read Matthew 5:10-11
- Consider this – when you’re reading these verses, think of people like Asia Bibi – who have been suffering unimaginable pain, because of their faith in and witness to Jesus Christ.
- Answer this – what does Jesus mean that we are to “Rejoice and be glad…” when we’re insulted, persecuted and libeled/slandered against because of Him? How so?
- Consider this – of Christian faith which is lukewarm, it has been said: “…possibly our alleged Christianity is condemned when it is so tepid that the wicked do not persecute it but simply ignore” (emphasis added)
- Answer this – how are we called to safeguard against our faith and witness simply being ignored?