The Life Eternal – All Saints 2019

Ephesians 1:11-23

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Sermon Text

Today we gather and celebrate All Saints Day. Today we take a moment to acknowledge that we are not alone in our pursuit of Christ. We are not alone in the slightest, not only because of the abundant goodness of God who is our All in All but also because of all those who gather together to worship this same God. All those who gather together at the table of grace – whether they be in Heaven or on Earth. We gather here with all who have ever lived and all who have died and all who will ever live and all who will ever die. Today we acknowledge the miracle of the Church, and the reality that at this table – somehow, someway, all of eternity comes to settle down among us.

For two thousand years, people have cast their hope on Christ. For two thousand years, we have worshipped our risen Lord. For two thousand years, the company of Heaven has grown. For two thousand years, the kingdom has made itself visible and has become hidden. The life of every believer a shining light in the dark, so that their death leaves a very real void. Even as the light shines brighter every day, there will always be those places where a light once shined, and now does not. There are always holes in the mosaic of our life, there are lights that have gone out in our chains, candles missing from chandeliers. We cannot help but notice them missing.

Yet, we do not believe that they will stay gone. We believe in a day that all weeping will cease. When heaven and earth are brought together and God reconciles all things to one another. On that day there will be no pain or death. There will be no more sickness, no need for medicines or surgeries. There will only be us, the Church Triumphant, and our God. Our Jesus. Our precious Holy Spirit. The world will be a temple, and we will be its priests. All will be right.

This day is an opportunity for us to celebrate in a special way what the future holds for us. Today we remember that we are not alone. That there are thousands of people, millions, billions even, who have gone before us in the faith. All gathered around the throne of God, all worshipping the one who rules eternity. They sing a never-ending hymn, “Holy, holy, holy.” There is communion with one another through all eternity, communion with God forever and ever. There is light, and never darkness. There is song, there is dance, there is laughter, there is life.

The life eternal begins the moment that we accept Christ and enter into the fellowship of the Church. Our eyes are opened, and we can finally see what the inheritance of saints really is. The beginning is in the here and now. When we love one another when we live a life that is bold and unafraid to do what is right. When we call the whole world our siblings, and we stop wasting time on anger, wasting energy on resentment. In that moment the life eternal begins. Our light can finally shine out fully in the darkness.

The life eternal continues as we grow in the faith. Our small light grows and affects more people. Our goodness grows and we endlessly reach upward into the goodness of God. Elevated as we are by the grace of God we are not just people who avoid evil but seek good. The world grows brighter not just because we shine outward but we bring others into our fellowship, lifting up the lowliest people to the highest heights. Our families, our friends, our community of the faithful expands outward all throughout our lives.

Of course, we do not go on forever. We age, we get sick, and eventually, we die. We see those around us go before we do. One after the other after another. Until finally, we too disappear. We are pushed through the veil and disappear into eternity. We leave an empty space. There is nothing left for us. There is only what once was us. Empty of personality and life, just a vessel. A lantern without a light, a candle without a wick.

What gives us hope is that the life we began here does not end. The light which Christ lights in our hearts cannot be extinguished, but only made dormant. The kindling is always there ready for life to be given back. The soul is not destroyed but rushes to our God. We who are left behind await reunion with the same anticipation as those who have gone before us. Those gathered around the throne, though ecstatic as they are in the presence of God, await the completion of all things. The day when there is no longer a separation between soul and body, living and dead, here and now, but everything is all at once. God is truly all in all. When the Communion of the Saints is not invisibly around us, but all around us.

The day when all our dear loved ones are back around us. Those we never knew but who have been praying for us in the presence of God. The fact that we go on, the fact that we do not have an end, means that we will continue on in perfection what we have begun now. The dead are not disinterested, the dead do not lose themselves, but in the new-life of Heaven are perfected. They remain themselves, but the self that they had only glimpsed before then.

Today we gather and share time together. Today we gather and break bread together. Today the invisible world around us becomes clear if only for a moment. Today… Yes, today we celebrate the faith we have in Christ, and our love for the Saints – those who went before us, those who sit among us today, those who are not yet born. Today is a day for All the Saints. – Amen.

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