sOccasionally, we will reprint prior devotions that now reflect on the coming lectionary texts. This is a reprint from a devotion originally published on October 27, 2014.
Prayer: For all the saints, who from their labors rest, we give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.
Reading: Matthew 5: 1-12 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: This Sunday, many of congregations will commemorate "All Saints Sunday." It's a day when we remember the great cloud of witnesses who have come before us, and often we commemorate those in our midst who died in the last year.
I know of several ways that congregations "celebrate" this day. In my home congregation, a votive candle was lit for each of the dearly departed since the last All Saints Sunday. Where I attend church now, our pastor usually talks about those saints during her sermon and during the prayers of the people, the list of names is read as a bell tolls for each of the saints.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to preach on September 29. On that day in our church year, we commemorate St. Michael and All Angels. As I was arriving to worship, I got a phone call to tell me that my aunt had died. That particular day, during worship. we sang a song about the angels and the heavenly chorus. I smiled (and teared up a bit) when I thought that my aunt was now among them, singing with God.
As our Bible passage reminds us today, our hardships here on earth are temporary. Jesus tells us that as His chosen people, our reward will be great in heaven. As we remember saints in our life, we can smile knowing they are enjoying that reward! --Chad Hershberger
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