The Feast of All Saints (Observed)
1 John 3:1-3; Matthew :1-12
What We Will Be Has not Yet Appeared
In his first Epistle St. John gave this word of reassurance: “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.”
This is the great hope, the great comfort we have at the Feast of All Saints. What we will be has not yet appeared. But John heard the voice from heaven that said, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Rev 14:13). What we will be has not yet appeared, but for our blessed dead, those who have died in the Lord, what they are has appeared. For them, the Lord has come with the shout of victory. They are at rest with the Lord; they are not dead. As a congregation we celebrate today on this All-Saints Day because Ken and Haran’s membership has been transferred from the Church Militant here on earth to the Church Triumphant. All your loved ones who have died in the faith enjoy the same victory, the same rest, the same bliss of being in the presence of Jesus Christ for eternity. What we will be has not yet appeared, but they now enjoy that for which we long. Thanks be to God!
So, this day is another Easter reminder, similar to what we had a few weeks ago when the Gospel told of Jesus raising the only son of the Widow of Nain. Today the distant triumph song is heard by our ears. We already heard the angelic “Glory be to God on high,” repeated heaven’s alleluias, and soon we will join in the cries of “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Your loved one has gone before you and you just sang with hem and will again. They are not dead, but are in that blessed heavenly chorus. They rest from their labors. But we labor now
But that day has not yet come for you. In this meantime, enjoy what Jesus gives you. He has pulled back the curtain for you like He did for St. John. He has shown you that the dead, your loved one who has departed in the Christian faith in the crucified and risen Jesus is in the kingdom of heaven. They see God as He wipes the tears from their eyes and as He opens his hand to satisfy their hunger and thirst. He is their covering that blocks them from the sun and scorching heat. He id their shepherd who carries them in His nail-pierced hands forever.
Beloved, we you God’s children now, and what you will has not yet appeared; but what the dead in the Lord are is revealed to them and known by them, and sin God’s good timing and by His great mercy it is and will be yours forever when you see Him as He is.
In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer talks about the faith that motivated the saints. He begins to name the saints, using them as examples of what faith does. He chronicles the stories of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. He concludes the list with saints known in that day. In the Epistle they are unnamed, unknown to us, but known to the writer, and, most importantly, to God. In the middle of the chapter, the writer summarizes the lives of these men and women: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
The feast of all saints in the Lutheran Church is observed a little differently from its original intentions. Originally, the Feast of All Saints was established as a sort of “catchall” day for the Church to observe and give thanks to God for those men and women who had made a memorable contribution to the Church on earth, but for whatever reason were not given a set date on the calendar. They didn’t rank with Apostles and Evangelists, famous Martyrs, or others, so they were remembered as a collective group on the first of November.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.