For All the Saints - Reflections 11-6-2021

Texts for Sunday November 7
All Saints’ Sunday

Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44

It is All Saints’ Sunday this Sunday. On this day, we celebrate the final victory won for all the faithful followers, but we also grieve for our beloved dead. We can be assured that God honors our tears.

All Saints’ is a yearly gift for the Church.

First it declares bluntly that death is very present among us. A truth strongly felt especially for those who have recently experienced the death of a loved one, but also for all who still miss someone, and grieve in the dark hollowness of their loss. Death is painful, death is brutal. The void that stares us down each day is real. In this week’s Gospel, even God/Jesus grieves in anguish over the death his dear friend Lazarus. We do not have to sugar coat: death is real.

Not changing the truth of our tears, All Saints’ Day also proclaims hope. Jesus calls Lazarus out of his grave, unbinding him from death. All the texts carry the promise that God will not leave us in our grief. God’s triumph over death has begun; God will wipe away our tears. The texts turn our eyes toward death’s ultimate defeat: God will swallow up death forever (Isaiah); Death will be no more (Revelation). We are comforted by that promise, a word of hope in the midst of our pain.

Finally, this day does not just celebrate “pie in the sky by and by”. All Saints’ Day is about the present. God says “See, I am making all things new” - right now, this moment. Luther taught that through our baptism God brings forth a new person. Each day, each moment, we are saints with God-given possibilities to serve and love others. That newness is why people make the sign of the cross, or dip their fingers into the baptismal waters at church – to remind themselves that they are one of God’s saints sent to be in this world this moment. And we taste the final feast which is shared with all people at the end of the old whenever we eat and drink at communion.

Which saints do you remember this year? Who makes All Saints Day especially meaningful for you?

When have you felt God making all things new?

In the COVID pandemic, we as a country have experienced death in a way that we have never before experienced. 750,000 people died. How can we lament and remember them?

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245