Sermon 1st November 2020 – All Saints Day
Text Revelation 7:9-17 – Worship in eternity
Some people don’t like the term death or dying because it’s so harsh. Others don’t like the term “passing away” because it softens death too much and doesn’t recognise the reality. Others have used terms such as “passing over” seeing death as a doorway from this life into eternity. I used the term “gathered into God’s presence” to signify what death actually is; And the reason I used that term is because Jesus also uses that term to describe what happens. In John 14 he says to the disciples in preparing them for his impending death and their subsequent death: “Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; I am going there to prepare a place for you.? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
As we look at our Gospel reading it is God’s intention to use heaven as our comfort from the difficulties we go through in this life. This life has not ended up what God truly wants for us because of sin. Sin opened the door in this life to evil as our eyes have been opened to good and evil in a world that God had originally created as very good. And so that opening of our eyes has seen a variety of sad experiences which culminate into death into which God brings comfort:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
There is no sugar coating death. It is raw – it is devastating – and to say anything that downplays the hurt would be offensive. Even Jesus wept at the death of his dear friend Lazarus. Jesus cried out in distress at his own impending death – take this cup from me. So in no way do we downplay the seriousness of the death of a loved on. But death is the passing from this life into eternal life in heaven. It is Jesus fulfilling his promise to take us to be with him where he is because THAT is what God wants for us which John saw in Revelation 21: Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
And as Paul says to the Colossians: your life is now hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Friends, let me finish this All Saints Day with Jesus promise again to us – words that he spoke to his disciples to prepare them for his own death: Don’t let your hearts be trouble – trust in God – trust also in me, Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour.