Watching for the Morning of November 1, 2015
All Saints Sunday
Note: All Saints and All Souls are combined in Lutheran tradition, remembering not only the saints who have no appointed day of their own, but remembering all the people of God who are gathered around the throne of God.
From the celebration of God’s work of renewing the church last Sunday (Reformation Sunday) we come now to the celebration of All Saints with its vision of the great company of saints gathered around the throne of God.
The readings for Sunday are rich with promise. Isaiah sings of the day when the shroud of war and sorrow that lays across the nations will be lifted and all gathered to share at one table on Mount Zion. The city now bitterly divided shall become the city of peace. The poet declares that “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it,” and announces that the Lord has come to claim his royal abode and reign as king. John of Patmos in his ultimate vision bears witness of the earth and heaven made new, where the heavenly Jerusalem becomes the earthly city and God again dwells with us, wiping away every tear. And in the Gospel reading the true and enduring work of God in Christ is revealed in the raising of Lazarus from the grave.
Though we remember the dead, death does not haunt the community this Sunday. The vision is not of lost loved ones, but saints who have gone before and join with us now as one great company singing the praise of God. Together the saints on earth and the saints in heaven are one body living by and for that day of new creation, singing God’s praise for he has deposed death and begun his reign as our true Lord and king.
The Prayer for All Saints, November 1, 2015
Almighty God, Lord of Life,
as Jesus summoned Lazarus
you call us forth from the grave
that in you we should find that life which shall not perish.
Unbind us from every shroud of death
that, freed from its shadow,
we might live now in the joy of the banquet to come;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
The texts for All Saints, November 1, 2015
First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-9
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.” – The prophet announces to a war torn people that God shall gather all nations to one table and wipe away every tear.
Psalmody: Psalm 24
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.” – Words from an ancient liturgy in which God is received as king, perhaps when the Ark of the Covenant is brought to the temple.
Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-6a
“And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” – John of Patmos reaches his great concluding vision of a world restored to God, where the heavenly counterpart to the earthly city of Jerusalem comes to earth and God dwells among us in a world made new.
Gospel: John 11:17-44
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’” – Jesus comes to raise Lazarus from the grave.