In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
Easter is called the “Queen of Seasons.” Easter is the source and summit of the Church Year; the day to which every other day in the Church Year looks, the day holy Church celebrates the depth of love God has for His people. For you as a Christian, today, the Feast of All Saints, is where Easter gets personal. Today you hear, today you are comforted by what Easter means to you. Because Christ is raised from the dead, because you are Baptized into that death and resurrection, you will stand in heaven. No matter what you endure in this world, it will end. When the fight is fierce, the warfare long, you hear the alleluias sung in the Church, you hear that distant triumph song, and know that Christ will take you there.
Today the Church remembers those who, in the last year, have been called to everlasting rest by their Lord. We remember with thanksgiving people like Lu and Karl, people whose friendships brightened our days, whose Christian faith inspired us. We thank God for His loving work of redeeming them, keeping them steadfast in the true faith, and calling them to life everlasting. But our remembrance doesn’t stop with them. Today we remember all our friends and family members who now rest from their labors and are safe with Christ. We thank God for the host of witnesses who have gone before us. We give thanks, confident that one day we will see them again and stand with them before the throne of God singing eternal praises to the Lamb of God who has taken away all our sin by His holy Blood.
When St. John saw heaven and saw that great multitude which no one could number singing those praises, He saw you. St. John was allowed to see heaven on the Last Day. He saw the sum total of the elect, all those who have faith in Jesus Christ, and are declared righteous because of that faith. He saw everyone. He saw Adam and Eve, Noah, John the Baptizer, Peter, Paul, you, your father or mother, your grandmother, your friends, Lu, Karl. He saw all the faithful departed gathered around the Lamb, doing the same thing in heaven that they did on earth. He saw them singing praises to God, having their tears wiped away by Jesus Christ, being fed and watered by His almighty hand.
This day is placed in the Church Year specifically for your comfort. This day exists to wipe away your tears, to make your heart brave, your arm strong. The Feast of All Saints promises you that Easter will be yours. Because your sins are washed away by Jesus Christ, you will see once again those loved ones who have died in the faith. You will see them face-to-face just like you will see Jesus face-to-face. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad,” Jesus tells you. Though you suffer in this world, suffering from the sins you commit, the sins others commit against you, suffer from the throes of death of this dying world, suffer from the merciless attacks of Satan, it all will come to an end. Just like it has come to an end for those who have died and are with Christ, that same blessed hope awaits you. Jesus Christ has died for you. He has opened heaven to you.
But you don’t have to wait for the Last Day to be reunited with those loved ones in heaven. Here in the Divine Service heaven and earth meet. When you sing Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men¸ you sing with the angels. When you sing Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth you sing with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven! When you sing the Sanctus, you are singing it with Adam and Eve, Noah, John the Baptizer, Peter, Paul, your father and mother, your grandmother, your friends, Lu, Karl, and everyone else marked with the holy cross of Christ. When you kneel at this Altar, you aren’t just in communion with those on your right and left. Across from you also kneels everyone in heaven, everyone gathered around the same Jesus Christ. In this Sacrament we are bound in unity with those in heaven beyond us.
As comforting as this is, as glorious as these days are when Jesus is in our midst with His Body and Blood, a yet more glorious day will break. It is the Day you confess in the Creed: “I look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the life of the world to come.” On the Last Day, you will join those saints triumphant, rising in bright array as Jesus, the King of Glory, summons your body from its rest in the grave. Then your soul will be reunited with your perfected body, this body freed from all its pains and illnesses, its desire to sin, everything functioning as God created it to in Eden. Then you will join that great multitude which no one can number, dearly beloved children of God from earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, walking through the gates of pearl of the new heaven and new earth.
This is what the Feast of All Saints is all about. What Jesus opened to you on Easter will be yours. You celebrate what joy and glory already belongs to those who have gone before and are with Christ. You take heart in their rest, and take heart in the blessed fact that Jesus Christ has prepared a place there for you, too. What Easter promises you and your Baptism into Christ gives you, All Saints reminds you of, keeps you confident of what you will inherit. Until that day, until you stand in the sweet calm of Paradise the blest, rejoice, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Sermons from Mount Olive
Mount Olive follows the historic one-year lectionary (series of readings).