Nov 5, 2017 message is based on 1st John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12

Our lives are made up of three time frames: the past, present and future.
We all have a past and we all have memories of that past.
Some of them are good and some of them not always so good.
I’m going to stand in the back of the church to help us focus on our past.

Your past includes all the places that we have been and the people we have known.
Our past was times of happiness and sadness, of joy and of sorrow.
Our past was where we have tried and failed and, at other times, succeeded.
Our past was where we have learned from those same failures and successes.
Those persons and events in our past have helped to shape who we are today.

So what does God have to do with our past?
Well, an important part of faith is to believe and know that God has acted in your past.
In the Bible, God speaks of his past with people that reflects his relationship with us. 
In that relationship he’s been with them(us), protected them(us) and cared for them(us).

Now I’m going to move up among you, because we’re moving into the present.
This is where we live now and where events are currently happening to us.
The present is the most challenging time frame because we make choices every day.
We decide whether to beat that red traffic light, where to retire, how to live.

The past may be set in stone and done but the present is fluid and unpredictable. 
Unlike the past, in the present we can chart our course and affect our outcomes.
The decisions of the present makes for potential anxiety and worry in our lives.
Because if we pick the wrong things or make bad decisions, it can affect us greatly.

God speaks through the Bible in the present and gives us guidance in how to live now.
God’s decrees or law are written in scripture and on our hearts to help us in life.
Whatever our past looks like, God reminds us that he helps and is with us now.

Finally, I’ll just move up to the Altar area as we talk about the
future.
The future is unknown to us and therefore can also cause worry and anxiety.
The future’s uncertainty can make us feel unsettled or insecure about what will happen.
We imagine the future to be either good or bad, depending on our state of mind.

And while the Bible starts with the the past in Genesis, it then runs all the way to the end of God’s story where the Book of Revelation tells of the future.
So today, All Saints Sunday, we had several readings that point for us to the future.

The Beatitudes that we heard from Matthew’s Gospel tell about a future hope.
It says “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven”.
Those Beatitudes beautifully tell of how we will be blessed no matter what hardship.
It was given by Jesus to reassure his followers that their future will be good/happy.

And from Revelation, John gives this elaborate picture of a scene in heaven.
There, we hear of all these dramatic pictures from his vision that is described.
Some like to take this literally and believe this is what the future holds, and maybe so. 
I’m not so sure it will be exactly like that, but merely that it will be wonderful is enough.
But I like best today the reading in 1st John, Chapter 3.
In that short passage we heard a short summation about past, present and future
And, it tells us of our relationship with God in each of those periods of our lives.

Our past?  John says “See what love the Father has given us”.
The words “has given” are past tense that describe actions prior to the present.
From the beginning, our beginning, God the Father has given us love.
Just as he loved his people from long ago, God has loved us from long ago.

That does not mean that the parts about sorrows and failures are exceptions.
If anything, those times are when God has loved us and helped us most.
But, as it says in the Beatitudes, God’s love is there in the trials and tribulations.

How about our present? 
In one simple sentence John tells us who we are - “God’s children”.
He says “Beloved, we are God’s children now”.
No matter what your past, no matter how many failures or bad choices or mistakes;…
you are God’s children now.
When we regret the past, we need to remember that we are no longer there but here, in the present where we will always be God’s children.
Because once you are someone’s child, that fact can never be altered or taken away.

Finally, what 1st John says about the future is simple but tells all we need to know.
He says “what we will be has not yet been revealed.  What we do know is this: when he is revealed we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
The “he” person is Jesus Christ and “he” is the key to all three time frames.
He is the love of God we’ve always had and He is the reason we are children of God.

So, of course, Jesus is the key to our future when we will see him and be like him.
Not like him with a beard and wearing a robe and sandals…..but in spirit.
Like him as in free from sin and in perfection that is communion with God.
Not only with God, but with those who’ve gone before us and who we remember today.

So, whenever we think about our past, present and future and as today we think about all the saints and loved ones who have died and left us,…
as we think of our own past and their past lives and what that meant to us;…know that God has loved them as he loves us
As we think of the present and grief as we miss them terribly;…know that God cares and is with us.
And, as we think of theirs (and our) future;…know that God has said it all will be good.
Perfect, in fact, like Jesus.

Amen.