All Saints Day

Revelation 7:9-17

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’

11 All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’

14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’

And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

‘they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 “Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,”

    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.”

    “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Friends, one simple but very needed message today: Don’t grow weary or fainthearted about your life in Jesus. You don’t need to. That is what All Saints Day urges us into today.

We remember the losses and the grief and the truth of our limitations, powerlessness and smallness in the face of events, of evil and of death and lost love, and yet, we hear the Spirit telling us that all is not lost, no sin is ever lost and we have been found and will remain known even beyond our time here in this life.

We live a bigger life than we can see, and we participate in a vast community living and dead that will eventually fully live.

Today we hear the muffled cheers of the great crowd of witnesses who know what they are taking about because they have reached the glory of the goal, urging us on to keep the faith we have been given by Jesus (Hebrews 12:1).

Despite so many in so many communities saying Christian faith is fake or weak or unneeded or tragic or even dangerous to human society, we are still part of a vast community that lives large.

This community of which we are part is the supreme sign of anti-racism and any prejudice. We belong to a community seen, and unseen, but living, which includes humans beings from al nations, race, culture and language that know what it is to suffer and lose, but now know the victory over it all and in it all of the risen Easter Jesus. They have come out of the ‘the great tribulation’ and have had their robes washed in the blood of the forgiveness of the Lamb of God who takes away all sins once for all, all their lives (Revelation 7: 9, 14). This community is full, forgiven and free and always will be.

And this is all true because of the matching vast scope of what Jesus actually achieved for his saints of all time – you and me even now: the high deep, long, wide salvation from never-ending disconnection from anything the God of all goodness is – the everlasting angst and anger of knowing that you missed the opportunity for the joy of life in Jesus and there is now no way back to it – that is death.

That is what ‘gnashing of teeth’ is. and we don’t need to do that because Jesus takes all of the human gnashing and anger and pride and rejection of underserved gift of love into himself in his own body. He died ‘once for all’ so that our life is all for one in him forever.

This All Saints Day puts us right back at Easter Day – and our baptism day when we were buried with Jesus once, and raised with him once to live in the raised life now (Romans 6: 3-8). This will be the first words at your funeral if you have that funeral in the Lutheran community with a Lutheran pastor.

We are also in the vast crowd on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God gathered in the world of the day for the birth of a new global community of grace sent out to the four winds to bear the cross and the witness to the grace of God in Jesus the Son in the power of the Spirit. The winds still blow us along to all places he sends us to – from the back roads through Moculta to Truro, to the hills of Bethany and Eden Valley to the plains of Sedan to the heartland of this Valley – Angaston, Tanunda and Nuri and everywhere else we live.

So, with the church still marching and the church at rest in the new Jerusalem coming, we live together under one Lord, one faith and one baptism with one Father over all, who is in all and through all (Ephesians 4: 4-6).

And our story is not finished yet, even though all my life there have been many who have been telling the world that it is, or at least powerless, meaningless or dangerous to trust in such a story of God and his church.

They tell their story in vain, as nothing we do and say in the work of Jesus’ kingdom is ever in vain because he says so and promises to make it so at the end.

We are heading into God’s preferred future for us and his world at his time and pace and decision, if we trust him, follow him, love him as he has loved us.

The sufferings of the present time are incomparably minimal comparted to this ending promised by the Lord of all for all of us (Romans 8:18). These ones today or anyone we have lost in past days who had been baptized into Jesus and lived under his gracious word by faith have entered the full glory with Jesus as we all await the final resurrection of the living at the time and the dead at the time where the new creation will be revealed in full in all its glory.

And we will be there – white robed, dipped in the blood of Jesus, blameless, justified, new, positively glowing, resurrected bodies with plenty to say, raising our voice in uncontrolled praise (very un-Lutheran!).

Parents of sacred story

And the prophets there are found

The Apostle’s too, in glory

On twelve seats there enthroned

All the saints have ascended

Age on age through time extended

There in blissful concert sing

Hallelujahs to their King

We are all fathers and mothers of the church because we are all saints of God made holy by the baptismal and holy communion blood of Jesus. He shares his holy love with us, and we are wholly in his love.

Friend, no need to be despondent about your life, your church, your pain and suffering or the world in which we live and move, so troubled that it is and will continue to be. It is all leading to a new day, like that hard-working mum giving birth to a new person …

No need to grow weary being a Christian – believing, receiving, being loved and loving, working for the gospel and getting kicked around for it at times.

‘Be still my beating heart’ as I remember these saints today and all saints lost so far. Resergam, they used to put on head stones. Someone please put it on mine! “I shall rise”.

So have you, and so will you, and in the meantime, we rise, whatever comes: the saints of God under their lavish loving king of Kings(1John 3) who bleeds for us and prays for us, go marching on.

Can you hear the angels singing into you now:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’





Sunday 8:45am
(1st + 3rd of Month)