O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
What does All Saints Day mean for my everyday life?
What does All Saints Day mean for my everyday life?
Based on Rev. 7:9-17
Preached on November 4, 2018
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I was going to start the sermon this morning by telling a story from when I was in a restaurant full of people sitting across from each other, but they were all on their phones – or by citing statistics about how loneliness and mental illness are on a dramatic rise – or by listing the multiplying ways people are trying to create community that don’t seem to last – but I don’t have to. I don’t need to do that today. Because it is so plainly obvious to all of us that the social fabric of the world is breaking apart at the seams. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about countries, cultures, families or individuals. The prevailing pattern is disconnection, disintegration, division. Things are fragmenting, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. Oh, everyone is trying their best to hold things together, but our human efforts are not working.
Beloved, that means something. For you. For your soul. Because all this works to make you feel isolated. Alienated. Alone. And all of this would be true, even before adding your Christian faith into the mix. As we heard Jesus tell the disciples, your faith in Him isn’t always going to win you friends. It can get pretty lonely.
So the Lord of the Church, looking in loving kindness upon your lonely heart came to the apostle John in a vision. You see, there really is nothing new under the sun. Our fragmenting world – our situation today – this is exact same situation St. John and the early Church faced when Jesus gave John this sneak peek. Which means its for you. For us – right now.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
“Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” All the saints. John saw All Saints standing together - united by baptism in Christ – safe and full of joy. This is happening – right now. In heaven, those saints in glory – and right here on earth – in this very room – you and I united with them by faith in Christ.
Today is for you – dear ones – All Saints Day is for you - Christ reassuring you that if you have suffered for the sake of the Church, if He has led you on the lonely path – you are not alone – your heart is surrounded by an army no one can number – cheering you on – rooting for you – calling you to keep your head up and your eyes on Jesus – as they did – because they are there – and they promise you are going to make it – it is all worth it – we will be together soon – and the loneliness will end with an unity they can only describe to you right now – an unity in Christ that will open you up from the inside out – an unity in Christ that will connect you fully to every other saint – an unity in Christ that will never end, pause or wan for all eternity.
It is yours – now – by faith – by hearing and believing – but then, from where these saints call to you – it is by sight – bright – clear – endless – to them you are there – which is why they cheer you on – why they praise the Lord for saving you – why they join with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, lauding and magnifying His glorious Name with YOU here in the Divine Service every week.
You participate in a great mystery our Lord is working through His Word and Sacrament in this place – and through you out into all the world. It’s called the Church. And you believe in it. The one, holy Christian and apostolic Church. The communion of saints. You don’t need to withdraw anymore. You don’t need to disconnect. All the saints are leaning in towards you – connecting to you in Christ – moving your eyes with theirs to Him – one unified body, past, present, future – Christ is not pulling away from you – but drawing near – these saints are not further away today than they were yesterday – NO – they are closer – you are closer to them – and they are closer to you – all of it in Christ – and nothing can stop this great work of God – His gathering, uniting and joining all the faithful into the holy, blameless beautiful bride – His Church. This is His doing, and we are along for the ride. So enjoy it. Join in with those already aiming there. Cheer them on, as they cheer you on. Unite with your brother and sister in the pews of this church. Gather, bring, host, join.
This is not simple head knowledge. It is the new reality. Christ is the union of heaven and earth. He is gathering us into a new humanity. One that is patterned like Him. One that is a picture of Him. Why is He doing this for you? Because He wants you – certainly. He loves you.
Why did He look on your lonely heart and say “I’m going there,” “I want to be with you”? Because He can’t help Himself. He is a gatherer. Spreads His arms on the cross for the whole world. Calls all people to Himself – IN THIS WAY – so that those He gathers might join in gathering.
You see, you know a lonely person – you probably know a lot of them. You know that person who is fainthearted – they need you – they need this – they need someone to cheer for them – see Christ as Redeemer for them – root for them – have their back – join them and point them to the great unifier Jesus – their mediator – the One who is coming to them – just as He is coming to you.
What does All Saints day mean for your everyday life? It means you’re not alone. You stand with an army of believers, so that you can meet that lonely person you know, meet that worn-out person you know – right where they are – and have something real to offer them. A real mediator. A real unifier. One who comes right to their heart to join them and make them a part of this new pure thing that will never end.
Beloved, our own faithful departed – the ones we miss - they are part of that great multitude – they are the ones cheering us on – they are the ones rooting for us – calling us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus – closer every day – nearer – sooner. They enjoy the rest, the glory, fulfillment. And because they know our struggle, they call us to lock our eyes on Christ and enjoy the ride. He is gathering us in. You can’t stop it. And while it might seem like a rollercoaster ride that you can’t get off – there is one thing that you can do – you can enjoy it. Give your trust over to Him. Throw your hands up in the air. Shout with glee at every turn, drop, loop and swerve, and join those saints in glory praising Him for bringing you in.
It will not be long, dear ones. It is soon, and very soon. You belong in Christ. Made new and united with a great multitude no one can number. You are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. You have washed your robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr