All Saints, observed
November 4, 2018 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Blessed is Christ, Our Lord who became poor in spirit in order to earn the Kingdom of heaven for us. He mourned on the way to Jerusalem for those whom He loved but who hated Him. Now He is comforted at the Father’s right hand. He became meek and had no place to lay His head. Now He inherits all the earth and the sons and daughters of Adam who confess and praise His Name are His. He hungered and thirsted for righteousness crying out even from the cross itself. Now He is satisfied in His vindication. He is righteous and He has obtained righteousness for His children that He might give it as a gift.
He is the Merciful One for whom there was no mercy. Now He reigns by and for that mercy which endures forever. The Man of Sorrows is the Man of Compassion. He is pure in heart. He sees His Father with unflinching eye and reveals Him to us according to His grace. He is the Peacemaker, the Son of God. He restores peace between heaven and earth and receives us as His Bride and dowry from His Father.
Above all, He is the One who was reviled and persecuted, against whom they said all sorts of evil precisely because He is Yahweh the Savior come to earth for this pain. Here is His Glory. He laid down His life and endured His Father’s wrath and loved us to the end. He is the greatest of the prophets whom the prophets foreshadowed. He is the first of the Martyrs who find their strength in Him. He is the Apostle of apostles who was sent and who sends. Prophet, Martyr, and Apostle; Priest, King, and Redeemer: He is the Lamb who has slain but who lives.
He, who for a little while He was made lower than the angels, is the great subject and fulfillment of His own Beatitudes. Now He is crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone, for us. He is made perfect through suffering in that this is His purpose and Office. He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source: the Father to whom we have been reconciled. That is why Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers.
As His brothers, sanctified by His sorrows, justified by His resurrection, the Beatitudes show our glory even as they show His. We too are blessed in our sorrows and we too are destined for more than the eye can now see or the mind now contain. In and by Him we exist and live and have our being. We traverse with Him the lonely way and are not alone. He is with us. So also there is a great cloud about us: witnesses. They have preceded us in the faith and come to the culmination of Holy Baptism. Their sanctification now matches their justification. They are with Christ and therefore they are with us. They are witnesses of Christ and witnesses of what we shall be.
We hear the vision seen on Patmos’s lonely shores and we know that what is sown was perishable but is raised imperishable. It was sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory. We now bear the image of the man of dust and sorrow, and even as the cloud of witnesses now bear, so also shall we bear the image of the Man of heaven, of holiness, innocence, and blessedness.
Whether we live to the second coming or we are sooner translated to glory, we shall never be forgotten or left alone. Those who are baptized into Christ and trust in Him do not die: they live. Those who are baptized into Him and trust in Him own, possess, and live in the Kingdom of heaven now. They shall be comforted. They shall inherit the earth. They shall be satisfied in their quest for righteousness and mercy. They shall see God and be called the sons of God. But already now theirs, yours, ours, is the Kingdom of heaven.
Until then we are weak in spirit. We mourn, are meek, are hungry to be free of sin. We are frustrated in our lack of mercy, our impurity of heart, and our stubborn, quarrelsome ways. We do not live up to the Kingdom that is bestowed upon us by grace, to the Name that we bear, or to the King whose throne was covered in blood and mucus and His own feces to shield us from the accusations against us. Nonetheless and despite all of that the Kingdom is ours. We are redeemed by Substitution. We are atoned by Sacrifice. We are saved by grace. Our King reigns not by violence but by suffering violence. He rules in us not by force but by forgiveness: His mercy endures forever.
We are God’s children now and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when Christ appears in glory on the last day that we shall be like him, because we shall see him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Christ purifies himself as Christ is pure.
Then we shall all be changed. All shall be changed, those who suffered physical death and those who escape it and endure the terror of the end, the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant together, the Church of Jesus Christ, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: we shall all be changed. We, our dead loved ones, the saints of old, baby David baptized this very day, all will be perfected. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable. And we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then we shall be changed. Then we shall be comforted. Then we shall be satisfied. Now we mourn. Now we suffer and endure. But already now, as then, the kingdom is ours and the cloud of witnesses is about us and we are not alone. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. We are always bearing about in our bodies and in our lives the dying of the Lord Jesus. We bear this that His Life might also be made manifest in our bodies and in our lives and in our deaths.
So it was with the saints before us. So it was with Jesus. So it is with us. The Kingdom ours remaineth.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.