S-1005 110/0428/07 All Saints Day/C. Hymns: (O)#376; #339; (S) #463; #644; (C) #468
Texts: Isaiah 26:1-4, 8-9, 13-21; Rev. 21:9-11, 22-27, 22:1-5; Matthew 5:1-12
Theme: “It Is Hard to Imagine” Rev. 21:9-11,
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for today’s homily is the Reformation Psalm: “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:9-11).
Saints in Christ, the last couple of weeks we have been reading in the newspaper and listening on the radio and watching on TV the tragic account of Ted Klaudt (former state Rep), who is charged with the rape of two of his foster daughters. According to the defense attorney Klaudt is charged with sexual contact with these girls by lying to them, that he needed to test them if they could donate their eggs for profit. We listen to something like this, and we can’t imagine that someone could stoop so low.
Ashly Duchene of Phoenix is charged with negligent homicide of her one year old son, Ryan Galicker after leaving him in the hot sun for 7 hours while she worked as a waitress at Hooters. It is hard for us to imagine that a mother could forget her son. But she did.
In Kearney, NE., a six grade teacher is on the run with one of her students who is 13 years old. According to the AP report she is intimately involved with her student. It is hard for us to imagine why anyone would do something like this.
My sister Yasmine 2 months ago was diagnosed with the dreaded disease of cancer. Yesterday, the Lord who bought her with His precious blood called her to His eternal rest to be with Him forever. It is hard for me to imagine life without my sister Yasmine. Without her smile, her love and her zest of life.
But today, the Evangelist John speaks to us about the beautiful home that awaits us. The home of the Lord, where He dwells with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is really hard to imagine a home like that. A home where there is no pain, suffering and sorrow.
On this All Saints Day, our eyes are lifted up to heaven to our home of glory. For there the promises of Christ spoken while He was on earth are fulfilled. He, who is the Resurrection and the Life, takes all of those who die in Him to be forever in His presence.
The Bible tells us that God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is as work within us (Ephesians 3:20). On Easter Sunday the disciples began to realize this when they saw the risen Lord. On Ascension Day their realization that God can do beyond the imaginable increased as they witnessed the Risen Savior ascended into Heaven to fill all things. On Pentecost Day the Lord again surprised them with a real but hard to imagine experience when the Spirit gave them the miracle of new languages to tell of the victory Jesus brings.
It is hard to imagine how God created the universe out of nothing, yet He did (Genesis 1:1). It is hard to imagine how God split the Red Sea to give birth to a new nation even as those same saving waters swallowed up Pharaoh’s chariots. It is hard to imagine how God made the sun stand still for hours—extending daylight so that Israel would gain victory over the Amorites.
The God we worship has a pattern of doing the unimaginable. It was hard to imagine Jesus being born of a Virgin so much so that Mary asked, “How can this be?” It is hard to imagine the Lord who runs the whole universe asleep in a boat during a terrible storm, yet this occurred so that Jesus would keep the law perfectly for us. It is hard to imagine the Savior in love going without food for forty days and forty nights so that He would overcome the devil for us. In love, He was willing to starve for us.
However, what is most hard for us to imagine is that Jesus would purposely walk to the skull shaped hill to suffer for us in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. For us He would drink the full cup of suffering, the full cup of despair, the full cup of loneliness. It is hard for us to imagine how Jesus wracked in infinite pain could upon the cross pray, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It was so hard for the one repentant thief to imagine Jesus praying that prayer, that Gospel prayer converted him upon his cross. It moved him to pray to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus spoke to him words that this man found hard to imagine but now knows to be totally true, “Truly I say unto you, this very day you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Today the Holy Spirit tells us we are heading to a glorious future. Each day we draw one day closer to the time when God will wipe away ever tear, when death and mourning will be forever gone, when we will dwell in an existence free from all the effects and defects of sin.
The group Mercy Me wrote a song that says very well, what I want to share with you.
Can Only Imagine Lyrics » Mercy Me
I can only imagine. What it will be like. When I walk By your side
I can only imagine. What my eyes will see When your face Is before me I can only imagine
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine When that day comes And I find myself Standing in the Son
I can only imagine When all I will do Is forever Forever worship You I can only imagine
I can only imagine [x2]
I can only imagine When all I will do Is forever, forever worship you
On All Saints day we celebrate how in Holy Baptism the Holy Son of God has made us Holy—in other words saints. In Christ we are saints, holy, forgiven, blessed, sons and daughters of the God of all grace. It is hard to imagine that God views us as saints but that is His glorious verdict. Because of that glorious verdict we will participate in the glorious victory of dwelling in the New Heaven and New Earth with forever New bodies because of Him who took on a body for us to save us body and soul. May the Holy Spirit fire your imagination with the love of the crucified Risen Savior who comes to us even now with His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Hard to imagine—all these good things—yes, and no. When we look into the deep wounds of Christ, the deep love of Christ, the powerful victory of Christ, these things are not hard to grasp. When we look only by human measurements—then they are very hard to grasp. May God the Holy Spirit enable us to look to the Risen Savior who fills the whole universe yet dwells within us so that our imagination is stretched to see His passion, His gift of paradise, His powerful promises, and His abiding presence; and His everlasting Peace. Amen.
Now the peace of God…