November 1, 2020
Grace, peace, and mercy be yours in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus the Holy Christ, the Lamb of God. Amen.
Today we celebrate All Saints’ Day. It is that day when we ring a bell as we read the names of all those who have left this life, and are no longer here with us. It is often thought of as a day of endings. This is the last time these names will be mentioned in any formal works of the Church. It is for us a final farewell. We know that we will see them again. We know that salvation through Jesus the Holy Christ of God is sure and certain… but still it feels like an ending.
It is however really a day of beginnings. For those faithfully departed they have begun their life in a place where sin cannot touch them, and pain is, at its best, only a distant memory of something that will never be known again. The souls of the faithful are safe in God’s good and gracious care. They wait, with us, for that final day, the Last Day, when our body’s will be raised up, and we will live in a new heaven and new earth forever without end. Amen!
How did they earn that reward? What had they done to impress God that He would grace them with such a prize? Were they especially faithful, especially Christian, especially good? No. They were sinner. Just like you and me. Yet, on the day of their Baptism they, just like you and me, were mark as one redeemed by Christ.1 Just like you, they were Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.2 Just like you they were Baptized into the death of Christ, and as such, as God’s Word proclaims, they were also Baptized into His resurrection. A resurrection just like His.3
Death is the curse for sin. If you sin, you die. That has been, and will always be, the rule. With that rule in mind, Satan took great joy in bringing death to us. He used us to hurt God. Satan attacked us because he knew we were weak. He knew we could not resist his power. He was right, we can’t. He is more powerful then you can imagine.
This is the beast that attacks you and drags you down to the pit with him.4 He is a murderer and the father of lies.5 He is too great, too powerful for us to fight. Satan’s only goal is to destroy you and in doing so break the heart of God. What weapons and strength do we have to combat such a dreadful enemy?
Satan knows the rule, sin must bring death. Satan knows the rule, only those who are perfect can stand in the presence of God. Satan knows God would not, could not endure, loving something that is not perfect. What Satan did not know is how much God loves us.6
Lucifer may have been, at one time, the most beautiful, powerful, majestic thing God had created, but not the most important. You are the most important thing God has created. He loves the lowest and most corrupt human far more than He has ever concerned Himself with Satan. Because of that love God could not endure being separated from you forever.
Now the Law is clear, there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.7 To account for all sin, perfect blood must be shed. None of us could fill that role? All have sinned. All of us have fallen short of the perfection God commands and demands.8 Still, God would not endure being separated from you forever. So He chose to fix the problem Himself.9
Go back to Genesis, the very first book in the Bible. In chapter three, in the same breath that God curses Satan, He speaks a promise.10 A promise of One who would come to restore what Satan had destroyed. With that promise came comfort to Adam and Eve. Though the effect of sin was still on them, the fear subsided. For Satan however the fear had only just begun. That is another beginning we remember today. The beginning of Satan’s full failure. The thrill of victory over destroying God’s most loved was dashed on the rock of faith.11
Not only was he forever cast out of Heaven; not only would he be cast into the torment of Hell for eternity,12 but he would have to live with the knowledge that he had failed forever. He failed because God promised to wash away the sin He hates.13 God promised to restore us to the perfection He demands and commands. Where we could do nothing to get ourselves right with God, God could, and did, do everything, and did it perfectly as only God could do.14
So that brings us back here. To this day, in this place. Today, in this holy house, we celebrate a day called All Saints’ Day. A day when we give glory to God for all those who have past through death to life in faith. We give praise and glory to God because we know that even though we miss those who are gone from us; even though we have wept for them, we know that we will not be separated from them forever. We will see them again because our faith is founded on Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The day will come when we will once again enjoy the pleasure of their company, in a place where sin is forbidden to ever touch us again. In a new Heaven and a new Earth, where the relationship Adam and Eve had with God will be restored for all of us.
In the book of Revelation we read today:
I [John the disciple] saw a large crowd from every nation, tribe, people, and language. No one was able to count how many people there were. They were standing in front of the throne and the Lamb. They were wearing white robes, holding palm branches in their hands, and crying out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!15”
Who are these people? They are us here, and all those saved through faith in Jesus Christ.16 Standing in that crowd are all those we will name today in our prayers. They are holding palm branches, the symbol freedom, and wearing white robes, because God has made them pure and holy.
Here in the Bible, we see that day when the great multitude will stand before the throne of God. They will be in the presence of the Most High. How can we sinful, sin-filled, people be there? Because God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, has made you clean. He sustains you, through the faith you received in that cleansing flood of Holy Baptism. He feeds that faith on the body and blood in Holy Supper of our Lord.
This is the flood of love that started at your Baptism. This is the flood of love that poured from Jesus Body on that Friday we call Good. This is the flood of love that God pours out on us every day of our lives. This is the flood of love that those faithful, whom we love, have now realized fully, as they bask the the glory of God.
Remembering how God saved those faithful that have left this Earth before us, let us use them as an example. Not one of them was perfect. Not one of them claimed to be. The truth is those of you who knew them best could probably best attest to the truth, they were not perfect. Yet they died believing, and because they believed they are now pure and perfect. Waiting for you to join them. You do that through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior.
This is the wonder of the faith God has given to us. It will restore us. It will restore our relationship between us and God. It will also restore the relationship between us and those we love who have died in faith. Today we remember their beginning of life in Heaven. Today we remember our own life in faith. In a faith that saves us eternally.
In Jesus’ name.