All Saints Sunday, 11/4/01
Are We Who Weep
esus spoke these words to a huge crowd who had come to hear the popular preacher who had dazzled the throngs. This was before televised football and it could get boring real fast just sitting around the mud hut. So, folks followed along by the thousands. Most came to hear, or to be healed. Not only was Jesus a charismatic personality and preacher but His Father had been working many Messianic miracles. In this pre-medical age the only hope they had was an act of God. Folks were forced to put their faith in Him. Our problem is that too often we put our trust in medicine and forget the Great Physician.
Jesus reminds us in every era that there are some sicknesses of the soul that He best can cure. Indeed, it's not a bad practice to pray along the road to the clinic. Modern medicine is a gift but most medical professionals soon learn that healing is a matter of the body, mind and soul. What good is a fit body if we are out of our minds, or have lost our souls? Wholistic medicine, psychological care and tenderness toward the injured soul are all necessary for restoration to abundant living.
Jesus included it all in his approach to this crowd who came to Him on the plain. Power was drained out of him as many were healed. Others heard His message and realized that the internalization of God's Good News did not leave room for psychosis or demons. Many became disciples and gave up their old lives to join His inner circle. Their focus was lifted from themselves to others.
Jesus met their needs. For those who were poor, or perhaps had been rich but had "lost it all," Jesus said, "You're blessed." (20, The Message). Their lives were bare and Jesus made them royalty: Children of the King, leaders in His Kingdom.
Jesus gave food to the hungry. Several times, probably many times, he fed thousands with real food, bread and fish, and maybe tarter sauce too. He still meets our physical needs. It is usually true that whenever the Gospel reaches a group of people they are soon full. This is a byproduct of evangelism. Typically, when persons come to know Christ there is put in them a desire for spiritual progress in faith, which overflows into new enthusiasm and higher ideals. If the Church had done a better job of evangelizing the whole world we would probably not be faced with the terroristic threats that are unnerving us this very day. We forgot that Jesus commanded us to go to everybody everywhere with the life transforming Good News. We tried to train them to turn on the lights without sharing with them the Light of the World. We shared bread but not food for the soul. Our text says that "when you are ravenously hungry, you are blessed because you are then ready for the Messianic meal." (21).
Jesus still seeks to touch our souls when we weep, and are perhaps the most vulnerable. Eugene Peterson's translation, "The Message," captures our contemporary idiom when it says: "You're blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning." (21b). Indeed, Jesus wants to join us in the journey through mourning to an eventual new morning. I hope this does not sound totally flippant to those of you present in worship today to honor your loved ones who have just recently experienced their "Glad Morning." We know that bereavement is tender and hard work. It is a difficult time that can last many months. Of course, there is always an empty place in our lives whenever we lose a father or mother, a husband or wife. The loss of a child, even a grown child is wrenching. Yet, we have learned by experience that the passing of time can be God's way of healing our broken hearts. As we pray, as we read Scripture, as we worship and begin to serve others the sorrow is lifted and we begin to feel blessed again.
Jesus has promised that we can experience blessings through bereavement but it is important to realize that, as in all things, we must be willing to allow it to happen. We know that we can cling to our pain and the time of sorrow can last too long. It is not God's will for us to remain in bereavement forever. God knows that we could never regain a happy life as long as we are in the midst of sorrow. This is why He has provided a way to heal the broken heart. Sure, there will be weepy times for a long time, and that's OK, but He wants you to eventually overcome your pain and walk again in the sunlight of a new day.
Jesus' offer of "joy in the morning" is for all of us because eventuall we will all weep. It has been said so often lately that America is suffering through a time of mourning as a result of the tragic loss of so many innocent persons in the terroristic acts of war committed less that two months ago. How could any feeling person not be deeply hurt by such an unprecedented tragedy? I have watched too much television news coverage and have seen our twin towers fall too many times. Now it's time to search for the blessing that is always found amid the rubble. There will be an unclouded day even in lower Manhattan.
Jesus concludes his sermon by underlining that perhaps the deepest hurt comes to us when we are "hated and excluded and mocked and cursed." (22, NLT). All of that sounds like gossip, and lying through innuendo. Sometimes the truth about us is bad enough, but some folks tend to always make the story worse. In situations like that we just have to keep our chins up and remember that (23, Message) Jesus was the only one who was sinless, and look what they did to Him.
Jesus was triumphant over the grave, as the first example of our victory, and He is ever-present with us to continually renew our blessing. He wants to do that for each of us today. Nomatter what our pain there is a promise of blessing.
Jesus' desire for we who weep is to take us through mourning into morning: Perhaps not tomorrow morning but some glad morning. Are not all Sunrises great, even when the clouds temporarily cover the sky? Partial clouds can even add to the picture as sunbeams break through clouds patterns as God's brightest creation leaps above a mountain vista, or up from the sea. This is our lives arising after a time of darkness to shine again for another day.
synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor