given on Sunday, November 1, 2015
Scripture base: Revelations 21:10-21 & Revelations 7:9-17 (NLT)
I admit I have Royal Fever. The excitement with the World Series makes it very difficult to admit that November is here. The weather must be confused, too, with all the delightful weather we have had and forecast for the week ahead.
Of course the biggest problem is that Royal Fever tends to distract a person, so I admit to another issue—preparing today’s worship service. Today is All Saints Day. The temptation is to connect the two but that might be a real stretch. Yet, there is one image that can—the concept of Kingdom.
Witnessing the transformation of Kansas City into a Royal Kingdom with blue fountains, blue lights, and the Royal logos everywhere creates a visual image and a unity that is creating a kingdom filled with new life.
Reading Revelations can be intimidating, but today’s two selections create visual images that help us anticipate the new life promised for those who accept Christ in our lives. The heavenly kingdom shared in Revelations 21 builds a mental picture of breathtaking beauty:
11 It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal.
And the description goes on listing precious stones: jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, amethyst and even pearls.
Granted the Royal Kingdom is colored by all the blue sapphires, diamonds, and pearls one could imagine, and it has transformed our world. Does the description of God’s heavenly kingdom create a sense of excitement and anticipation for you?
On this All Saints Day, the picture created in Revelations captures my attention. I cannot imagine the visual glory that will greet us as we enter into God’s kingdom, but the words in Revelations 21 gives me renewed conviction that God’s promise of eternal life is real.
Just in the past year, we have witnessed losses in our community as well as in the national and international communities. Those who have died took a little light away from our community, but the promise of Revelation’s words provides each of us hope. Not only hope for our own eternal life, but also hope to reconnect with those who have already moved to God’s eternal kingdom.
All Saints Day provides an opportunity to review the list of those who have moved away from our world and on to the heavenly world. We know those who have gone, and we know the promise God has made for all Christians. We use Communion to review and to reaffirm our own covenant as Christians.
In the scripture from Revelations 7, there are echoes of Christ’s story in these words that we share during the liturgy of communion:
13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in[a] the great tribulation.[b] They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
The words remind us that accepting God’s gift of his son and his death for our sins, we are purified. Remember the promise in John 3:16:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (NRSV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)
Powerful words. A guarantee. A home run—no a grand slam.
Today, All Saints Day, we hear the promise and we can imagine heaven through the words in Revelations. And, remembering all those who have guided us in this earthly world, we hear the promise of joining those already in God’s heavenly kingdom:
15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
God’s kingdom is a kingdom free of all the tribulations of our earthly life. The decision to believe in God and to accept his greatest gift of his son will turn our earthly tribulation-filled life into an eternal life may not be easy, but believe. The saints in our lives know and the secret is revealed in the words of Revelation:
17 For the Lamb on the throne[c]
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Revelations reveals the secret to eternal life and provides us hope. All Saints Day and celebrating the sacrament of communion provides the perfect diamond for a winning season. Each of us is a royal witness to God’s kingdom. Share the story, live the story, and receive the crown.
You manage our lives in ways we do not see.
The saints in our lives have coached us
By modeling the one rule that guarantees
A winning season in our earthly world:
Love one another as you want to be loved.
May we share in the meal of champions,
The bread and the wine of the Lord’s table.
Let them be for us the blood and the body of Christ.
Purify us so we may be winning Christians
Teaming with love for one another.
Thank you for all the grace you provide,
For all the opportunities to serve one another,
And for all the forgiveness when we err.
May scripture strengthen us in our tribulations.
May the legends in our lives be saints at your table.
May the promise of life eternal fuel for our game.
Grant us peace as we share in the cup and the bread.
Fill us with energy as we continue in life’s journey.
Keep hope alive as we hear your word.
And forgive us when we stumble.
We thrill with the promise of life eternal
As we join together at your holy table. –Amen.