Sermon + Congratulations

Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon for All Saints’ Sunday, November 1 on Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. He explains that Jesus is telling future disciples what awaits them if they do the work Christ calls them to do. Congratulations to those who live out their discipleship.

Pastor Brian’s Sermon video on November 1 from the Church at Home.
Pastor Brian’s Sermon audio on November 1 from St. Mark
Pastor Brian’s Sermon audio on November 1 for Ascension.

May we learn from God’s words & stories, working to bring the Kingdom here to Earth. AMEN.

  • You come home and you are sorting through the mail. You come across a larger than usual envelope that has printed on it, Congratulations, you may already be a winner! [a]
    • And you drop that envelope, unopened into recycling.
    • Those businesses that send out those item have already drawn the winning numbers.
      It just depends whether they return the form or not.
      They want to entice you to participate because you may have already won.
  • That is what Jesus is doing in this passage from early in Matthew’s Gospel.
    • Jesus was drawing crowds because of the healings and miracles he had done.
    • So he goes to the top of a mountain, or a tall hill, and begins to teach what it will mean to continue to follow him.
      • He delivers the Sermon on the Mount, including this passage known as the Beatitudes, to his disciples, and those who would follow him, letting them know what is in store for them if they continue to follow him.
        • Jesus preaches on the small print of discipleship.
    • I want to share some other little details on this passage.
      • Only the first and last beatitude are in the present tense, Blessed are …, the rest are in future tense, Blessed will be …
      • And the Greek command makarios, is better translated as Happy to, or Good for you, or Congratulations.
      • This isn’t being sarcastic, but it reflects the radical reorienting that Jesus brings.
        • Think of the kingdom of God being how God wants us to do things.
        • So, if you’re willing to dig that envelope out of recycling, here’s what you may have already won.
  • Congratulations to the poor in spirit, for they are doing things the way God wants. [b]
    • The kingdom of heaven already belongs to them because their values are God’s values.
    • Here, poor isn’t a financial state, but is a spiritual term. It is recognizing that anything good that we do is not for our benefit. It is a gift from God that we have given to others.
    • It means that our faith is in God, not in ourselves or others.
  • Congratulations to those who mourn, for they will be comforted. [c]
    • This isn’t directed just to those who dealing with the type of loss we remember today, but it is to anyone who has experienced loss.
      • Jesus speaks words of comfort to those who suffer and who have sinned and want to repent of their sins. They mourn and regret what they have done, and are told that it will be alright.
  • Congratulations to the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [d]
    • Those who are humble, and who are not self-aggrandizing and self-glorifying will share in all the world has to offer.
  • Congratulations to those who yearn to be delivered, for they will be. [e]
    • The righteousness and justice we think of is for the burdens and obstructions other have put in our way to be removed. Jesus is talking about the burdens we place in our own ways; the sins we have done.
    • Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes forgiveness, think of how Matthew records the Lord’s Prayer, Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. [f]
    • Similarly, Congratulations to the merciful, for they will receive mercy. [g]
      • Those who forgive will be forgiven.
        • Much of what Jesus teaches is about forgiveness and mercy.
  • Congratulations to the pure in heart, for they will see God. [h]
    • The pure in heart are those who are pure in their motives. They act not for their own self-interest, but because they do the right thing, They are doing God’s will.
  • Congratulations to the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. [i]
    • To have peace with foes and those you oppose, you have to let go of your grudges and hurts. To make peace amongst others, you need to get others to do the same, to give up and swear off revenge.
    • How can you want to seek retribution against someone whom you know is also a child of God?
  • Congratulations to those who are persecuted for preaching forgiveness, for they are doing God’s will. [j]
    • Telling people to live out this radical vision of love, of forgiving, letting go of wrongs is not going to be well received. It is a total reversal and reorientation of society.
    • Those who have power because they sow seeds of fear and hatred, trying to conquer by creating division will fight those who seek to share and spread God’s mercy.
  • Congratulations to you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [k]
    • Doing God’s will and God’s work will upset a lot of people who are invested in the status quo. Proclaiming this new way of life, showing and sharing God’s love and mercy will have you being called pretty much everything but a child of God.
    • Which is who you are and who we all are. And we are called to treat everyone else as a child of God, which they are.
  • On this day when we remember the saints who have been in our lives, I hope we realize that their lives were ones of congratulations because they did these things that are the will and ways of God.
    • They were examples to us of how to live a life reflecting God’s love.
    • They have shown us the way of God and what we should do.
    • Congratulations, we all have a lot of work to do.


[a]     Much of this sermon was preached using this language by Pastor Campbell on January 25, 2015 to Our Savior’s and Emmanuel Lutheran Churches in Greenwood, Wisconsin.

[b]     Matthew 5.3. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[c]     Matthew 5.4. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[d]     Matthew 5.5. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[e]     Matthew 5.6. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[f]     Matthew 6.12.

[g]     Matthew 5.7. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[h]     Matthew 5.8. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[i]     Matthew 5.9. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[j]     Matthew 5.10. Translation by Brian Campbell.

[k]     Matthew 5.11-12. Translation by Brian Campbell.

The Gospel Lesson +  Matthew 5.1-12

Leave a Reply