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All Saints - Matthew 5:1-12

Bishop Wayne Miller summarizes the gospel, the good news of God, in two lines:

"God loves you exactly the way you are.

And God loves you too much to let you stay that way."

Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.

Linger a moment over the first part of the good news, the part that I so often miss.

God loves you exactly the way you are.

We are God's children now.

God does not wait for us to get our act together before naming us beloved and blessed.

Unlike the church, God does not wait for us to complete an application packet for sainthood.

Jesus doesn't preach goals, he announces blessing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, the bereaved, the meek, the hungry, the deprived.

Blessed are those who ache with pain and want and need; blessed are those who are mocked and misunderstood, whose lives are a hot mess.

Blessed are you, beloved child of God, no matter where you are or where your life is or

how far that is from where you or others think it should be.

God loves you exactly the way you are.

You are a saint; you are a dear child of God, right now and forever, just like those around you who don't have their act together either.

Maybe you've noticed; maybe you've mentioned it.

God loves you anyway.

God loves you exactly the way you are.

And God loves you too much to let you stay that way.

What we will be has not yet been revealed.

The process of getting there is classically called "sanctification"—saint-making.

It typically involves what John of Patmos might call a great ordeal.

In his day, it involved resisting the pervasive idolatries of the Roman empire,

including civic worship of the guy whose face was on the money with the subtitle

"Son of God."

Rome didn't have Election Day, with our privileges of voting and voice.

Rome had imperial threats ranging from peer and economic pressure to public

execution; those who came out of that great ordeal did so through a bloody death.

Blessed are they, John says, describing what they have become, which is why his vision

is called Revelation: his letter is a first fruits look at the promise come true.

What we will be is partially revealed in John's glorious glimpse:

a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne, less than six feet apart.

The joy of victory waves in their hands and songs.

Their blood stained clothes shine blinding white, laundered in the blood of Jesus.

They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; and sweat no more.

The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; they shall not want.

He will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear

from their eyes.

Because God loves us too much to let us stay this way.

Yes, life is a great ordeal, especially this year for so many.

It is exhausting unto soul-crushing to live in an empire now worshiping and ruled by money rather than the faces on it.

Our hunger and thirst for righteousness continues to burn unsatisfied.