The Feast of All Saints - "Children of God."
Nov. 7 All Saints Observed Sermon
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. In the name of Jesus.
Being a saint hinges on being a child of the heavenly father. The hymn Children of the heavenly father, our hymn of the day, is one of my favorites to use when making hospital visits – if per chance they let me sing in the patient’s room. It’s an easy tune to catch on to and I think the melody is soothing. The sick and feeble saints of the Lord need to know who they are and where they stand; they are first and foremost children of the heavenly father. The safe ones in His bosom that He gathers. It is the refuge He gives, the promise that He doth tend and nourishes us, spares us from evil, bears our sorrows, knows all our pains and preserves us no matter what the outcome looks like.
Though you can’t yet see it, in holy baptism, you are given a halo with you new name – child of God. You will be able to see it though when you gather face to face with the saints who have gone before you. John encourages this truth in his writing by going on to say that: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And then he basically wraps it up by saying: therefore have hope.
This being like Him fulfills the 9 Be-attitudes from Matthew chapter 5 in the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus’. Because all those attitudes are Jesus’ attitudes. He became poor in spirit, mourned, was meek, hungered and thirsted, is the most merciful One of all, is the purest in heart, brought peace by His work on the cross where He was persecuted and reviled by others, accused falsely on the account that He wasn’t the Son of God or God in the flesh Himself.
In the sermon on the mount in those passages, Jesus takes all His being and then transfers it to you when He then says that you can rejoice and be glad; that you do have a great reward in heaven. That’s what this Feast Day is all about. Remembering the ones who have gone before us, the ones coming out of the great tribulation, who have received the consummation of their baptism and great is their reward in heaven.
For us it is a paradox. For they live in the already while we still live in the not yet. The space between appears to be a big gap between the angels, the elders, those clothed in white robes, and especially from the faces of them that see the Lamb. The space between – it reminds me of a pop culture song that came out when I was in my 20’s by the same name, where the first refrain goes: The space between the tears we cry is the laughter that keeps us coming back for more. To be sure, that song isn’t about All Saints but is in that line a recollection of such liminal space the children of God reside in until Christ comes again in glory to judge both the living and the dead. And for the children of God, He is not a stern judge with a hammer that will crush your body, soul, and spirit. No, He comes with life for the dead; the dead in Christ. Jesus says in John chapter 5 verses 25-28: Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice. The word judgement means justice. Justice for the oppressed – loving arms, a bosom as a hen gathers her chicks, and white robes that have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why in His holy courts they flourish (another line from the hymn).
And don’t you just love it when the Bible mentions your church’s name? We spoke it in the Psalm of the day: let the children of Zion rejoice in their king! For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; adorning them with salvation and to that we exult in the glory of God, sing for joy on our beds….you ever do that? Like little children jumping on the bed? Well, you’re never too old to jump on the bed, just don’t fall off and bump your head.
You know, talking with each other too is saintly talk. When we fellowshipped last Sunday for the Feast of the Reformation. The conversations had were saintly talk because we were together. Whether you are with family, hang out with fellow church members, call them to check up on them or just simply chat with them. Know that because we are saints, that our speech is to be saintly speech. That is why John says everyone who hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure. Saintliness is always hovering over God’s children so we must recognize the place we are in, all around us and the purity contained in our callings – our Christian name in Baptism, being baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit it what makes you a saint; therefore, keep the name pure as you always wear Him. It is what communion of the saints is all about.
Getting back to children talk: All Saints Day is the perfect image of children. Children of God – no more back aches, troublesome walking, being shut in the house. No, as lively as the children come up and bring the offerings each Sunday, so shall your delightful walk be in heaven. In heaven, yeah you, who have been purchased and won – not with gold or silver but by His holy precious blood. The saints in glory know that. They have received the Word of the cross, lived in it and by it – were a part of it then and still a part of it now. That’s why Revelation gives us that insight – that John still sees one like a Son of Man and as a Lamb
next to the altar. That’s because the victory and the victory parade wrought from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are still worth their weight in glory. And their benefits endure for all eternity.
Sure, we all have our good days and our bad days, we fall and get up. The saints that have gone before us did too. But whenever we conduct a funeral or memorial service, notice how we do not talk or eulogize about their falls, grievances, wrongs. No, we celebrate their life and remind the people gathered in their remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness, mercy, beatitudes. Beatitudes carried day to day, Sunday to Sunday, at the feast, the table of the Lord where He gives you His body and blood to eat and to drink so that you can carry on in the space between, until with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we are one again.
This is what the church does. This is how children of God “play” so to speak. In a playground built by our heavenly father, where even though outside of the grass and fields there is darkness, brokenness, and no good rides in the imperfect now. God keeps us safe, and when He wills to call us home, oh what a glorious day it will be.
Children of God. That is what they are. That is what you are. Privileged to be called saints, on both sides of heaven – thankful for the shared life and life experiences of “loved ones.” It isn’t ironic that we name them as “loved ones” because that’s what God names us too: Beloved. Beloved, God’s children now. Now children, hope in Him, give thanks for the example and cherished lives of the saints – God’s very own reflections inserted into His children for the lives they lived and for the life they now live. They now play on the playgrounds of heaven – Children of God. So, now, in reverence, let’s go play too.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.