October 31, 2019

Sing with all the saints in glory, Sing the resurrection song!

Death and sorrow, earth’s dark story, To the former days belong.

All around the clouds are breaking; Soon the storms of time shall cease;

In God’s likeness we awaken, Knowing everlasting peace. 671:1


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!


If you have been to any playoff sporting event you have no doubt heard the loud speakers blare with “Celebrate” by Three Dog Night and “Celebrate Good Times” by Kool and the Gang.


Now I know that Thanksgiving is the celebration everyone thinks of for the month of November.  But when it comes to real feasts I think we should think of another day.  November 1 is designated in the church’s liturgical calendar as All Saints Day.  Two items especially characterize this celebration, the announcing of the names of our members that departed this life since last year’s All Saints’ Day and the singing of hymns that joyfully praise the Lord! 


Here’s some information about All Saints’ Day that is contained in the daily devotional resource book entitled Treasury of Daily Prayer: “This feast is the most comprehensive of the days of commemoration, encompassing the entire scope of that great cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded (Hebrews 12:1).  It holds before the eyes of faith that great multitude which no man can number: all the saints of God in Christ, from every nation, race, culture, and language, who have come “out of the great tribulation, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14).  As such, it sets before us the full height and depth and breadth and length of our dear Lord’s gracious salvation (Ephesians 3:17-19).  It shares with Easter a celebration of the resurrection, since all those who have died with Christ Jesus have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:3-8).  It shares with Pentecost a celebration of the ingathering of the entire Church catholic in heaven and on earth, in all times and places, in the one body of Christ, in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Just as we have all been called to the one hope that belongs to our call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6).  And the Feast of All Saints shares with the final Sundays of the Church Year an eschatological focus on the life everlasting and a confession that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).  In all of these emphases, the purpose . . . is to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, that we might not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:2-3). (Pages 870f.)


So it is that on All Saint’s Day that we emphasize that Saints Give All the Accolades to God Alone! (11-12)


And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!  Amen.


All blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to the almighty triune God - alone!  After all, He created and sustains all things; He rescued, redeemed, and reconciled us to Himself; and He sanctified and preserves us steadfast in the one true faith in Jesus Christ.


Secondly we remember and proclaim that Saints Will Blissfully Live Forever in Heaven. (13-17)


Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come? I said to him, Sir, you know.  And he said to me, 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.  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.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.


Then and there with Christ, saints will be completely free from all suffering, pain, sorrow, sadness, trials, tribulations, heartaches, and despair.  Saints will no longer experience hunger, thirst, scorching heat, and whatever else Satan uses now to try to separate us from our loving Lord.


It’s what Jesus taught in the beatitudes during His Sermon on the Mount, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (St Matt 5:11-12 ESV).


Therefore, fellow saints, let’s rejoice and celebrate - celebrate good times now as we catch glimpses of what awaits us and the glorious times that lie ahead in heaven’s bliss. 


As we eagerly anticipate that joyful reunion with Jesus and all saints, may this celebration-occasion remind us and imprint upon our memories that Salvation Is the Saints’ Victory Song.


Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You. God grant it all for the sake of Jesus Christ, His humble Son, our holy Savior.  Amen.


Happy All Saints Day.  Pastor Oster


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