All Saints’ Day provides a great opportunity for us to not only hear with new ears the words of our Lord Jesus in His most famous sermon…but to consider them especially in the context of the entire household of God: the Church militant (people of faith here below) as well as the Church triumphant (all the household of God in heaven). Read Matthew 5:2-16 by clicking here.
All Saints’ Day in our tradition is an opportunity to celebrate all Christians. The “Church Militant,” remembered last week on Reformation Sunday, is the Church here below. It is made up of all us saints/sinners who confess faith in Jesus (1 Cor 1:5)…saints/sinners who sing “A Mighty Fortress” and get misty-eyed when we hear it with brass instruments (as I did last Sunday…thank you Morgan, Jaylen, and all who took part). It is composed of saints who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness. It highlights what I’d like to call the “present-tense” church of God. All Saints’ Sunday takes that notion of Church one step further. It connects the present-tense people of God, the “Church Militant,” with the future-tense people of God, the “Church Triumphant.” The future-tense people of God include not only Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Mary, and all the people we would put on the “Mt. Rushmore” of Christendom…it is made up of those saints (both ordinary and extraordinary) who, through no accomplishment of their own, have been welcomed home to heaven through faith in Christ. It is made up of those who “WILL be comforted” and “WILL see God.” But the blessing in which we share today is that, as members of the Body of Christ who gather once again around the Table of the Lord, the thing that so often seems to separate the present- and future- tense people of God…the enemy Death…really doesn’t. Death has been overthrown and overcome! The battle has been won! And in receiving the body and blood of Jesus we are not only connected to our fellow saints here below. We enjoy “mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won” (LSB 644, 5) and enjoyed above, too.
Today I invite you to remember with thanksgiving that grandparent, Mom or Dad, spouse, child, or best friend whose life has so profoundly impacted yours. It isn’t hard for all of us to think of the church triumphant and to give thanks for God’s gifts this weekend, for we will do so on Saturday as we remember our dear brother Hal Willard who joined the church triumphant last Sunday. Still, the love of the saints for us is but a pale reflection of the love of our heavenly Father, which they celebrate in glory today! As our voices join the chorus today of those who are gathered around the throne, we are encouraged in our journey of faith in the present. And we are empowered to more fully celebrate the gift of abundant life we will completely know and enjoy on a day yet to come.