All Saints Day (observed)
Passage: Revelation 7:9–7:17
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Revelation 7:9-17
Date: November 5, 2017; All Saints; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Today we observe All Saints Day. It’s a day to remember all of our loved ones who have gone before us in the faith.
It’s a day to give thanks and praise to God for the gift of eternal life that he has given to the faithful departed.
We give thanks for those who have gone on to the great scene of heaven described by St. John in our Gospel lesson, “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!’” (Revelation 7:9-10).
From this reading we learn that there are so many saints in heaven that they can’t even be numbered! They are countless!
This reminds us of the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - that their descendants would be beyond counting - as numerous as the sands of the seashore and as the stars in the heavens.
We learn from this reading that those who make up the great multitude are from every nation, tribe, and language. There will be no racism in heaven.
We learn from this reading how it is that one becomes a saint.
We heard, "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” (Revelation 7:14).
The blood of the Lamb is the blood of Christ Jesus.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching him - he boldly confessed and proclaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The author of the letter to the Hebrews declares, "Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood" (Hebrews 13:12).
The Apostle John wrote, "The blood of Jesus [God's] Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
So, what does it take to become a saint? What does it take to make it to heaven?
The Bible makes it very clear.
Those who are part of the great multitude, those who make it to heaven, those who are saints - are “[Those who] have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
They are those who have been cleansed, forgiven all of their sin, by the blood that Christ Jesus shed on the cross.
The world has a different understanding of what it takes to become a saint.
In the world’s view one becomes a saint by being good.
Just the other day I held a door open for a lady whose arms were filled with stuff and she said, “Thank you, you are such a saint.”
I didn’t know it was so easy to become a saint!
While the world may call people saints because of what they have done - it doesn’t work that way in God’s kingdom.
You can’t earn it. There is nothing you can do to become a saint before God.
This past year some of our dear members, friends, and family were called home.
Their deaths cause us great sadness and sorrow – and we are going to miss them.
This is true for all of our loved ones who have departed – whether during this past year or those called home years and years ago.
But we are comforted and we have peace knowing that they are saints who have been called out of this veil of tears to be in heaven with our Lord.
We know they are saints because they openly confessed their sins and they openly confessed their faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
They are saints because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and are now the purest white. They are now holy and righteous.
Again, they didn’t become saints through their own efforts and neither can we.
Sainthood is received through faith.
Sainthood is received through faith that believes in all that Christ accomplished through his perfect life, through his innocent suffering and death, through his resurrection.
Sainthood is received through faith that is given to us by the Holy Spirit.
When we say that someone is a saint - we are simply saying that the Holy Spirit has worked faith in them and they have received God’s gift of salvation.
It is through faith that our robes are made white by the blood of the Lamb.
You are a saint.
All Christians are saints - and all saints are Christians.
The Holy Christian Church is also known as the Communion of Saints.
This Communion of Saints spans two different worlds.
Here on earth, the Communion of Saints continue to struggle with sin and its consequences.
Jesus has won our victory and we are God’s children now.
Salvation is ours now, but we don’t experience it fully yet.
On earth we still experience sickness, and sadness, and sorrow.
But our faith sees through our temporary difficulties to the fullness of God’s promises for us.
Such is the life for the Communion of Saints in this world. Such is our life.
Then there is the Communion of Saints who have departed this world and are right now without sin, without hunger, without misery, without tears - without death.
Such is the life for the Communion of Saints in heaven. Such will be our life.
Now, even though the Holy Christian Church spans two worlds, there are not two churches. There is not one church on earth and another in heaven.
There is only one holy Christian and apostolic church – just as we confess in the creed.
The oneness of the church is not destroyed - even by the separation of death.
Where Jesus is, there are the saints.
The church on earth and the church in heaven unite around the throne of God and in the presence of the Lamb.
When we gather around the altar - we know that our deceased loved ones who have also "washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb" are right there with us.
For a time, the separation between heaven and earth disappears.
When we sing "Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world," we sing along with the countless Christians of every age and the whole company of heaven.
When we chant "Holy, holy, holy," we do so with the faithful from every time and place.
When we gather before the altar and receive Christ’s true body and true blood - we join with those we love - but can no longer embrace.
We are not only in the presence of Jesus - we are also surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses, this host arrayed in white, the heavenly host.
This All Saints Day as we remember and commemorate those who have gone before us - we are comforted that they are at peace in the presence of our Lord.
Though we miss them today, we know that we will be fully reunited with them tomorrow.
We will be reunited with them in eternal life where the Lamb of God will guide us to the springs of living water - where we shall hunger no more, thirst no more, suffer no more, and where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Thanks be to God! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
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