All Saint’s Day + Matthew 5:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17
Today, we celebrate All Saints’ Day. We often think about today being
About those who have gone before us in the faith and now rest from their labors. Those who by faith confessed the name of Jesus to the world. Those who have been buried in the cemetery and look forward to the resurrection of the body when Jesus comes again.
But All Saints Day is also about you, you who believe and are baptized, you to whom salvation and eternal life in heaven has been given. You, who have had the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit spoke upon you, are saints. You are holy. The word saint means holy, and in Christ Jesus-who He is, what He has done and what He has said and promised, you are saints, you are holy.
St. John looked, and saw a great multitude that no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Those who stand before the Lamb, they are holy, they are saints. They are not afraid. With all boldness and confidence, in prayer they call God Father. Fellow saints, today, you are the reality of what St. John saw. You are standing before the altar of God, before the throne of God, before the Lamb of God. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. His blood sets you free to be people of God. His blood has purchased you and won you from sin, from death and from the power of the devil. As you are gathered before the altar of God, you are standing before Jesus. You are not afraid. Here, you are made to lie down in green pastures, your souls are restored. Here you taste and see that the Lord is good, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love forever. Here your cup runs over. The goodness and mercy of God are given to you.
As they did at Palm Sunday, you are clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. Those white robes were given to you at your baptism and you will wear them in heaven; they are the wedding garment given to you by God. You cry out with a loud voice singing, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” You sing,”Hosanna! Hosanna!” Your desire is for Jesus to save you, and He does. God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only Son Jesus, unto death on the cross, that whoever believes in Him would not pot perish but have everlasting life. For Jesus did not come to condemn sinners but to save them. Through Holy Baptism you have been saved. You have been recreated in God’s image. Because of what Jesus has said and done and promised, God the Father has found favor with you. You are comforted. The goodness and mercy of God are with you all the days of your life. As it is for those in the cemetery and rest from their labors, so it is with you. Heaven is your home. Your names are written by the finger of God into the Book of Life.
And with the saints in heaven, all the angels are standing around the throne with them, they fell on their faces before the throne and worship God saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Like the saints and angels in heaven, we sing those same words when we sing in the preface and sanctus, (sing) “It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; heav’n and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.”
And as the saints and angels in heaven and on earth sing, Jesus, He who sits on the throne shelters us with His presence. Those who gather around His throne and altar, those who gather under His wing, like a hen with her chicks, they shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. Jesus, the Lamb, will be the Good Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Today, as you gather before the throne and the altar of the Lamb, the glorious company of the apostles join you in singing the praises of God – men like Matthew and Mark and Luke and John, who wrote the New Testament Scriptures. You are giving all thanks, praise, service and obedience with those who heard Jesus preach, those who saw Him suffer and die on the cross, those who saw Him risen from the dead and touched the hole in His hands and side, those who saw His ascend into heaven. You are joining together with the goodly fellowship of the prophets to worship Him – men like Moses and Elijah, who were on the Mountain with Jesus when He was transfigured, men like Isaiah and Jeremiah, who boldly proclaimed the promises of God. You are joining together with the noble army of martyrs to praise Him – men like John the Baptist who was beheaded and Stephen who was stoned to death and Peter who was crucified on a cross upside down, men and women who shed their blood because they feared, loved and trusted in Jesus. You are joining together with the holy Church throughout all the world to acknowledge Him – those on earth now and those who came before us, men and women like Adam and Eve, Mary Magdalene and Paul, who personally received the grace and mercy of God and were at peace. These are they who have gone before us and eagerly gather before the Lamb in His kingdom. You join with them and all the saints who worked to establish this congregation one hundred and fifty years ago. You join with all those who regularly gather together to be enlightened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, sanctified and kept with Jesus in the one true faith.
Fellow saints, as we celebrate All Saints’ Day, we realize that the Christian faith is more than a personal experience with Jesus. Christianity is not a me and Jesus thing. Christianity is about all those saints, yourself included, whom God has forgiven of their sins and promised the resurrection of the body and life everlasting in heaven. Christianity is about all those saints to whom the kingdom of heaven has been opened to, a great multitude that no one could number. This morning, as we gather with all these saints in heaven and on earth, in this and every congregation around the world where the name of Jesus is confessed, we pray that every nation, tribe, people and language would be numbered with us in glory everlasting. As we hear this sermon and pray the prayers and gather together at the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus, we are numbered with the saints in heaven and on earth. We know that Jesus will bless His heritage, those whom He called out of darkness into His marvelous light. He will govern us and lift up up forever, delivering us from evil and give us a blessed end.
This is why those who established this congregation and built this building did so, they realized how beautiful and important it is to be numbered with the saints in heaven and on earth. This is why this church continues to be used and maintained, Jesus is our Rock, our Fortress, and our Might; He is our Captain in the well-fought fight. He is the One True Light in the darkness. And in this place, Jesus promises to be. In this place we are with Jesus. Here, a clean heart is created with us. Here, a right spirit is renewed within us. Here, the joy of our salvation is made known. We are saints of God, with all those who have gone before us, with all those who are with us now, and with all those who will follow after us. Thanks be to God for His faithfulness to us. Amen.