Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: All Saints Day Observed

Sermon – Pentecost 24 – November 4, 2018
All Saints Day ‘Dawning of a New Day’
Revelation 7:2-17; Matthew 5:1-12
CT: As we remember our departed loved ones and their faith we are brought in repentance to acknowledge that their salvation and ours comes from God by grace. The blessedness of the saints is ours too!

Intro: A man on an airplane cornered a woman’s ear, as he shared the details of his young son’s death. They thought he had just another one of those school bugs, but with disbelief they heard the doctor tell them there was nothing more they could do. It was a virulent form of meningitis. He and his wife stayed at his bedside as their little boy’s strength failed. In the middle of bright sunny day the little boy said, “It’s getting dark isn’t it?” “Yes son,” the father replied, “It’s time to go to sleep.” The father helped his son squish up his pillow the way he always did and placed his hand on his head. “Goodnight daddy. I’ll see you in the morning.” Then he closed his eyes and stepped into heaven. By this time the woman beside him was doing all she could to dry up the flow of tears from her eyes, while the man looked quietly out the window. He finally turned to her and said, “I can hardly wait for the morning.”

Morning Hope: “I can hardly wait for the morning,” expresses our Christian hope. As we go through our own tribulations (not if; when), and when we face our own mortality, God holds out His promise of a new beginning; a new, bright, and glorious morning—a new life, a new heaven and earth, with a new body in His presence. Our first reading gives us a glimpse of what that looks like.
And talk about a big family photo; it’s more than any camera could capture—it’s a family so big that no one can count them and every saint is accounted for! They are gathered from all places and from all peoples, wherever God’s Good News took root in His people.

Old Picture: How different our family photo albums are; the saints are hard to pick out for all the black sheep. We notice it the most when we try to explain who’s in or not in our pictures. Our fractured family photos tell of people who are torn out of our lives in one way or another. The book of Revelation doesn’t hide our brokenness or the reality of sin in our life; it exposes the devil’s destructive work, and our weakness. Whether we like it or not, suffering and pain are life’s companions, but we do have every reason to hope because we know what the final picture looks like; a new morning is coming.

The Lamb: And Jesus is the centre of that new morning. He’s the Lamb in the picture—the One who for our sake, left the glory of perfect joy of endless days to enter into our shortened, broken days on earth. He is familiar with our suffering in every way. He was rejected, abandoned by friends, condemned to death, and then humiliated and crucified for the sins of the whole world. He died and was buried for the dawning of a new day— Easter—the day we celebrate every Sunday. He rose verifying the promise of a new morning for all who believe in Him.

Today’s Picture: All Saints Day is a glimpse into that new morning; it’s a day to grapple with how you and I fit into this picture. It’s a reminder of how God has begun a good work in you in your Baptism. It’s the birth of the new life of faith in you. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) That’s right; you don’t have to die to be a saint. We are already saints in Christ Jesus, howbeit, still a sinner at the same time!

Saints: The beatitudes describe you, the saint and sinner as being poor in spirit, lowly people mourning over sin and hungering and thirsting for righteousness. And this is only the beginning of what is called the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus sharpens the Law to an edge that no single person can escape from. But Jesus’ famous sermon does not leave us there; we have the promise of what He makes us to be. We are blessed because He has caused the kingdom of heaven to dawn in our lives; it is yours now. He secured for us the certainty of eternal life in a new, unblemished earth. He draws near and comforts us with the forgiveness He won on the cross, and satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness with His own Body and Blood. (Here at the communion rail we gather in a circle. We make up this half and the angels and the communion of all the saints make up the other half, as our truly present Lord gives completely of Himself; the Lamb at the centre!)

Saintly: The beatitudes tell us we are saints precisely because of what we don’t and can’t do. The Beatitudes remind us of our ongoing need of true sorrow over sin and repentance that leans more and more each day on the new life only Christ can and does give. And this gives way to your life as a saint of His making, where our ability to be merciful grows because God has had mercy on us; where we see God as we experience our heavenly Father’s persistent love for us as He creates in us a pure heart and renews a right spirit in us. We who have been on the receiving end of God’s peace in Jesus become peacemakers of His working.
The world will oppose what God is doing for you and in you. Families, friends, and neighbours will find your faith impossible to understand and push you away because of it; in some places saints will die for who they believe in. Peacemaking and righteousness are not as popular as politicians make it sound. But a new morning will dawn on those who have come through the great tribulation—your tribulations—and have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. Jesus presents us holy and innocent before God; just as if we never sinned. That’s His work in you today, here and now as together we will sing with all the saints, “Thank the Lord and sing His praise; tell everyone what He has done. Let all who seek the Lord rejoice and proudly bear His name. He recalls His promises and leads His people forth in joy with shouts of thanksgiving. Alleluia, alleluia!”

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