Let us pray: Dear Savior. Today we join with the heavenly hosts in celebrating Your eternal victory over sin and death. We join with all those faithful saints who have already made that journey to eternal bliss and honor You with them. And all we ask is this: with them numbered may we be, here and in eternity. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED HOLY TRINITY!
TEXT: James 5: 11: “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
Dearly Beloved Fellow Saints:
We have to time travel today back almost 1600 years. That’s when a churchly celebration of the saints first appeared on the yearly calendar in some locales. Then we’ll advance about 300 years when the church of the day in Europe made it official. Then we’ll advance again to the early middle ages when the day picked for this remembrance celebration was fixed to November 1st.
Saint means: holy one. So, “all saints” is a remembrance day of and for all the holy ones of God, or the living and the dead. So, it includes each of us who have been purified by the cleansing blood of Christ on the cross. But, again, over time it has taken on the meaning of remembering the departed holy ones of God who now reside in glory. Historically, we employ it to recall loved ones, especially those who have reached heaven, over the past year. We recall their struggles of faith and the victory that Christ made possible via faith. James, in our lesson reminds us that it is not about just the saints who we knew, but about Job, who made this journey so long ago, too. That’s why today we celebrate and learn anew from Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, King David, and all the other heroes of faith throughout the Bible.
Did any such saint have an easy life? No. Adam and Eve struggled with mourning over what they had lost: perfection. But through faith in the coming Savior, they still obtained it. So did all the other ancient saints and all the modern ones as well. They braved heartache, sadness, inner conflicts over their sins, and being ostracized by the masses. They faced death without flinching all because of, as James says: “the Lord’s compassion and mercy.” That’s code word for: grace. It’s found only in Jesus. And it alone sustained them. That’s because through faith they knew with certainty that Christ had also returned to heaven “to prepare a place for them” and each of you. Today all such saints wear white robes which have been “dipped in His blood” thus bleaching out any taint of evil from their lives. It’s paradoxical that blood makes us white, but true. And as the Bible also tells us: “Their faces glow like the sun.”
You and I are far from that right now, but actually we aren’t. We also wear white robes, the spotless robe of faith which God’s grace has draped over us. We, too, worship and praise our Creator and Redeemer. We, too, will live forever in heaven as elect saints of God. We’re simply a hairs-breath away from attaining all that. Separated from those triumphant throngs by time and space. But remember, to God, time and space don’t really matter.
When I was a little boy I focused on Halloween far more than All Saints. I liked the excitement of dressing up. I liked pigging out on candy. As you get older you enjoy attending Halloween parties. As you get older still, you begin to glory not in the unseen, scary, dark side of existence, but instead the bliss and awe and lightness of being that comes with All Saints. You enjoy the inner glow that stems from knowing you’re heaven-bound.
It’s fascinating how Satan’s domain, this world, has corrupted this time of celebration for God’s people. The vast majority celebrates Halloween with witches, goblins and scary costumes while few are sober enough the next day to recall All Saints. Paganism is alive and well in our modern world. People are enthralled over the dark side of life and seemingly shun the light. Moreover, the fact that no one seems to see this or care shows just how strong Satan really is.
Yet, out of darkness comes light. Light always wins out. Christ the Light of the world has vanquished eternal darkness by dying and resurrecting into light. And because He did this for us, like Job of old, we persevere so that we can join him. All this is God’s gift to us because: “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
One thing I want you to ponder: The universe is dark, cold, and lifeless apart from the sun and stars. But where those points of light appear, humans gaze upon them and life exists and the unknown becomes non-scary. In fact, through Christ the Light of the World, the unknown becomes known, doesn’t it? And that’s because: “God is Light and in Him dwells no darkness at all.”
Today on All Saints we embrace the Light! Today we join the currently unseen, the noble throng of saints and angels in glory. Today we celebrate being winners and not losers. Christ Jesus makes it so! Yes, this is the reality Adam and Eve lost, but Christ regained for them and for each of you. Fear is vanquished. Peace-filled bliss remains. Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH……
Pastor Thomas H. Fox