Sermons

"Singing With the Saints!": Sermon for All Saints Sunday, Year B

"Singing With the Saints!": Sermon for All Saints Sunday, Year B

Nov 04, 2018

Passage:Revelation 21:1-6

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace

Series: Feast Day

Category: Hope, Joy, Loss

Keywords: hope, joy, resurrection, saints

Summary:

On All Saints Sunday, we remember those who inspire and bring us hope from throughout the ages of the Church. This includes those beloved saints we have known and loved in our own lifetimes. We may have sorrow or grief associated with the loss of these loved ones--that's natural. The Revelation of John helps us to see past that sorrow to a place of rejoicing with these saints.

Detail:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Many of you know that I recently had the joy of having my mother, Joyce, and my brother, Dolph, come stay with us for several weeks. They've now gone back to their home in Louisiana. But Jill and I loved having them live with us here for the better part of September and October, becoming part of the pattern of our lives.

They also really enjoyed coming to church here at St. Andrew's, especially joining the Tuesday Bible Study.

There were several notable things about this visit.

First, it was the first time that they had been here to Amarillo since my father, Rudy, died more than three years ago.

Second, my brother, Dolph, is having increasing difficulty due to memory and other problems associated with dementia.

But nevertheless, the visit was special.

One of the highlights for me was our Thursday night "take-out" evening. We fell into a pattern that every Thursday night while they were here, we ordered take-out food from a restaurant.

Dolph and I would head out to pick it up. The first night looked like this: We get in my car. I put on a CD I have of our dad singing gospel songs.

I start driving, waiting to see how Dolph will react. He listens for a few seconds.  Then he turn to me and says, excitedly, "That's Dad!"

I say, "Yes, it is."

Dolph says, "I really miss him."

I reply, "Me too."

We sit quietly listening for a minute or so, as I drive down the road.

Then, as dad starts singing the chorus, Dolph, who has been struggling to find words in everyday conversation, just joins in, He belts out the chorus along with dad.

I join in too. We are a trio driving around Amarillo.

That first Thursday, I took the "long way" to get to the restaurant.

Dolph and Dad and I sang about five songs together. Dolph knew almost every word.

On these evenings, as we drive and sing, every once and a while, Dolph stops and listen intently. I stop singing to try to hear what he was listening to. Dolph then looks at me. He would then say, again with great joy: "That's Dad!"

I say, "I know. It's great isn't it!"

Dolph then, once again, with renewed comfort and joy joins in the singing.

So for the last couple of months here in Amarillo, the Pace Trio have been driving around the streets, belting out gospel tunes at the top of our lungs.

It's been pretty awesome.

In Revelation today we hear: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away."

So what's the author of Revelation talking about?

I think sometimes we get nervous when we hear the Book of Revelation is being referenced. It is a bit confusing.

But the wonderful thing about this book is that it is actually an imaginative telling of encounters with God in the midst of a time of struggle and turmoil. It's nothing more or less than that.

The author of Revelation, who calls himself John, tells us today that heaven's not an far-off place. "The home of God is among mortals."

God dwells among us.

God is with us.

We just aren't always aware of God's presence.

Understanding some of the context in which John wrote this book might be important. Christians at the end of the first century were significantly persecuted in the Roman empire. Many Christians had been martyred for their beliefs. John's purpose for this book was to encourage and strengthen the Christian community under siege. These Christians faced dangers and threats. John wanted them to also see this "revelation" of the presence of God in their midst. "It's all going to be just fine in the end" John is saying. In the great cosmic struggle, let me tell you of this incredible vision I have of how God is going to take care of us all!

So we hear language in this vision about "he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."

This All-Saints' Sunday, it's traditional for us to remember so many of the Christian saints and exemplars who came before us and paved the way in our Christian faith. But it's also important that we remember our loved ones who have died--our "faithful departed."

Remembering is important.

Remembering is what we do as people of faith.

Remembering makes us who we are.

Remembering can bring comfort. But remembering can also bring sorrow. For many of us, we still feel the grief of loss and absence for those we love who have died.

But John's Revelation reminds us of God's promise this All-Saints' Sunday.

We are in the presence of God. All things will be made new. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

Whether we're driving down the street, singing with the saints, or we're humbly processing to the altar communing with all of God's people from throughout time and space, God is in our midst. We always have with us those who have gone before.

Today--All-Saints Sunday--we celebrate the joyful truth that death will be no more. God will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Whatever losses we have in this life, we are never alone.

Amen.