November 7, 2021 - All Saints Weekend

November 7, 2021 - All Saints Weekend

November 07, 2021 | Bryan Simmons

Passage: John 11:32-44

    Click here for worship video.

    I'll keep the permission going -- at any time during the sermon, please feel free to get up and light some candles on the cross, particularly if you're bored. That's a good way for me to know when to come to a close here! So it is All Saints Sunday, and it is a day that we gather together to think about those that we have lost -- that have gone ahead of us. And particularly in the church, we do it every year and specifically name those in the congregation that have gone ahead of us as well. It's kind of an interesting Sunday to take time and devote yourself to that as we think about how connected we truly are to one another and connected to those that have gone ahead of us. They are not lost and gone forever. Their legacy continues on here in what we have been taught by them. And it helps us to build our legacy going on to the next generations, and it just keeps this continual pattern.

    Meanwhile, we feast together with them at the table when we come together for Holy Communion. It's a really interesting time to be able to focus on this idea of the Saints truly being with us, though they be dead on this earth. Because oftentimes people ask me, you know, come up in conversation every now and then when someone finds out I'm a pastor, and they'll ask me, you know what my favorite, you know, extracurricular, we'll call it, activity is as a pastor outside of the regular Sunday thing, you know, weddings and funerals. Do you like weddings more or funerals more? And they they think to themselves, well, surely it's weddings, right? Weddings are fun and you get to, you know, go to the reception, have the dinner and do the dance and all that and. I tell them, no, I don't really like to do the weddings compared to the funerals, in fact, funeral is my favorite thing to do. That sounds kind of morbid and weird, I bet. But I'm not alone in this. I would say most pastors, their favorite thing to do is the funeral. And it's because it is the one time that we get to be so focused on the core of what we believe. See when we're up at a wedding and we're talking about generalities of love. It is nice. But nobody there is really wanting me to talk at that time. They're just waiting for it to get over so we can all go to the reception and have fun! But at the funeral, you are confronted with the reality of death. Whether you believe, whether you doubt, whether you disbelieve. It's the reality that we all face and confront together. And it is the best time to talk about the very core of what we believe as Christians. That Jesus died and rose again. Paving the way for us. To rise again as well.

    And I think sometimes we don't think about it in that way, I think sometimes we get carried away and sometimes we don't really focus on it too much. Death is one of those things I'd rather not think about. Talk about you rather avoid the avoiding death. Culture is very profitable in in selling fitness devices, pills and all that sort of thing. We don't tend to want to focus on death itself, and we don't want to think about this idea of of dying and rising again. We get caught up in our busy lives, and sometimes it just kind of falls to the back and altogether until, wouldn't you know it, we have to confront it.

    And the church can get carried away itself, sometimes in its it's multiple things that the church gets involved in because there's a lot of different things going on when you carry out the eternal love of God. But the core of the message is that Jesus makes dead people live. Jesus makes dead people live. And it causes us to do a lot of great things in this world. It causes us to respond to that in a way that lets us look upon our neighbors and love them as Christ loves us. And to be able to serve them, whether it's through things like food pantries or clothing closet, working for justice in the world, helping out our local neighbors next door to us, looking and loving those as Christ loved us.

    It's one of those things that we can get carried away in, and assuming that to be Christian actually means to do the good things so that you can get to heaven. That becomes a common thought among many people in this world that Christianity is about doing good. And while doing good is a great benefit to that, that is not the core of what we believe. If that was true, the law would have been sufficient and we just do it. But Jesus saves because Jesus dies on the cross for you and me, rises again on the third day, invites us into that same death in resurrection through his. So that we can be eternally in God's love despite our sin. This amazing grace, this amazing understanding and hope that we have that, yes, Jesus makes dead people live. Allows us to see the world with God's eyes. To be able to love one another as Christ loves us. And to be able to do good in response to the wonderful love that we have. Does the result, end up being the same? Maybe. But our love in response to God's love is much different than our love because God commands it.

    And thanks be to God, Jesus came. So that our love could be a reflection of God's love. There's a freedom in that. There's a freedom in knowing the end, maybe not knowing your last day. I was at a pastoral care visit and was talking to somebody about that, the conversation turned towards that towards the end and this idea of knowing when your last day might be. And they came to the conclusion that knowing your last day, it would probably be pretty terrifying because you live your entire life with that in mind that that is the day that you're going to die. Rather, we are freed in not knowing. And we are freed in knowing that if it happens, it happens and we end up in this eternal love of God. So we get to know the end of the story, we get to know that everything is going to be OK. That everything is going to work out in the end, even through our death. Whether that's to natural causes, whether that's to disease, whether that's to violence, even through all of that, the promise is that Jesus makes dead people live. And so we are free. As Jesus commands the people around Lazarus to unbind him and let him go because he lives again, we are free. To truly live our life in abundance.

    To truly recognize that we are deemed saints by God, not because of our own merit, but because of Jesus. That though we go on continuing to sin, we are still loved, still welcomed, still adopted into this beautiful family. And so we get to look at our loved ones that have gone before us in the examples that they lead. And we get to light these candles in honor of them and the legacy that they have brought us, and the legacy that we hope to pass on to our next generations. That they can experience the same freedom of the promise in Christ. That they can look at the world with the same love that God has for us. That they can serve their neighbor not out of obligation but out of a true freedom of knowing that we are eternally in God's love. That we are forgiven. That it does not depend on us to be accepted by God, but that God has already done so in Jesus Christ. We are free. We are alive. Even though we die we are not bound by sin or death. Because of what Jesus has done for us. Let us feel that freedom to love one another as Christ loves us. So that we can live a life of service and glorious response to the reality of what God has done for us. Amen.