“Salvation belongs to our God”

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A message for All Saints, shared this morning at Los Altos Lutheran church

I want to focus on a single verse from our first reading this morning. It is from verse 10:

They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

To set the context for that verse, however, we need to begin with verse 9:

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

It is hard for us to fully appreciate the words we are hearing. This is a society in which the image of the emperor is on every coin, with images and titles that are just like this. The emperor was acclaimed as the savior of the world. He’s the bringing of peace. He’s the source of prosperity. The emperor sits on a throne with choirs and crowds attending him. The emperor had temples built and cities named in his honor. The emperor’s word had the power to free or condemn a person, a city, or a whole people.

Among the Judeans, however, there was a current of deep resistance to such claims of divine honors for the emperor. It led to the revolt that broke out under Judas Maccabeus in the 2nd century BCE when the Seleucid King, Antiochus IV – who called himself ‘Epiphanes’, the manifestation of God on earth – put a statue of himself inside the temple of Jerusalem. And it led, ultimately, to the revolt against Rome in 66 CE that resulted in the emperor to be, Titus, marching his armies through the land in desolation and slaughter. They built an arch in Rome to honor his victory that shows Judeans being led away as captured slaves, and the temple treasures carried to Rome by triumphant soldiers. The wealth of the temple would pay to build the coliseum where Christians and others would be crucified and fed to the lions for spectacle entertainment. Rome seemed to have won the argument over whether or not Rome ruled the world.

But in his vision, the prophet John, exiled to the island of Patmos, would see people from all over the world gathered around a different throne, waving palm branches and singing: “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

We live in a society where we tend to hear these words as religious language and to imagine that they are separate from political speech, but they are not. “Salvation belongs to God” means that kingship belongs to God. Authority, power, glory – these all belong to God and not the emperor.

The second thing that we should recognize in these verses is that this proclamation is being announced by people of every nation, tribe, and language. The emperor presented himself as ruler of the whole world. Of course, the Roman Empire wasn’t anything like the whole world, but it was the whole Mediterranean and it was big. It dominated the world from England to the Persian Gulf and from the Caucuses to all of North Africa. The Emperor ruled many nations, tribes and languages – but the prophet sees all these nations singing the praise of God not Caesar.

The third thing we should recognize here is that the people gathered around the throne of God are from every nation, tribe, and language – which is to say that God is the god of every nation, tribe, and language. God is not the god of Judeans only. God is the god of the whole world. God is not our god; God is the salvation of every nation, tribe, and language. God is the redeemer of the whole world. God is god of all creation.

Ancient society was even more ethnically divided than our own. You have to think back to that time when the neighborhoods in our cities were divided by language: Irish neighborhoods and Italian neighborhoods, and Jewish neighborhoods, and African-American neighborhoods. In East Toledo there was a Hungarian neighborhood where, when I was there, the priest still did the mass in Hungarian. The Lutherans in the German neighborhoods had given up German services because of the war, but they were still German churches. There was an Hispanic neighborhood which the Germans told me was okay because those people knew their place. And there was a Dutch neighborhood where, not so long ago, they wouldn’t speak to the new wife of a man who married outside his community.

But gathered around the throne of God are people of every nation, tribe, and language. The followers of Jesus fought this battle and recognized that Samaritans were welcome and eunuchs were welcome, and that God insisted they break bread with Gentiles.  Every nation, tribe, and language. God is the god of all. And we are many peoples who gather together as one people.

When we gather to worship, we are joining the chorus of heaven that declares that God is our salvation not any human ruler. We are joining the chorus of heaven that declares that God is the God of all people. We are joining the chorus of heaven that gathers us as one people – all that divides the human community is washed away in Christ.

What is it that divides us? Is it not our sin that divides us? Does it not all come back to our fears and greeds and hates and tribalism? It is washed away in Christ.

And finally, the one who is seated on the throne is the lamb: the lamb who was slain but lives. The lamb who was sacrificed to save the world from bondage but was made alive again. The lamb who was sacrificed to save Isaac from the knife. The lamb who is the good shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. The lamb who is the good shepherd, who brings us to lie down in good pasture and leads us beside still waters. The lamb who stands at the beginning and end of time and makes all things new. The lamb who is the world’s true lord, reigning not by power and the sword but by grace and truth – who opens blind eyes, who heals the sick, who gathers the outcast and reconciles the divided. The one who welcomes sinners to his table, and washes away our sins in the font. The one who is our light and our life, now and forever.

Amen

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASynaxis_of_all_saints_(icon).jpg By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

All Saints

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Watching for the morning of November 5

Year A

All Saints Sunday

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal
…..Have mercy and hear us.
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, Lord of Life,
…..Be our hope and consolation.
First born of the dead, breath of the eternal,
…..Be our calling and our faithfulness.

With those words we will begin our service on Sunday, a day that remembers all those who have died in the previous year, a day that hears the song of all the saints gathered around the throne of heaven, a day the remembers this great mystery of the body of Christ gathered from all times and peoples, joined as one.

I do not understand completely the rich liturgy of the orthodox churches, but I recognize the power of that iconostasis, showing all the saints looking down on the gathered assembly, representing the heavenly host with whom we are united in our worship. The barrier between heaven and earth grows thin in worship, and saints below are united with saints above in a single song of praise.

Every Sunday does this. But the rhythm of worship through the year is a little bit like a symphony where the theme is taken up by different instruments at different times and brought to the fore to be given special notice. So this Sunday brings to the fore the mystery of life and death and the life that transcends it all. There is a radiance brighter than the sun. There is a wonder surpassing the miracle of a newborn child. There is a majesty greater than the highest mountain peaks. There is a peace beyond the soft rhythm of a calm sea. There is a beauty beyond the most brilliant butterfly. There is a glory beyond the most vivid sunset. There is a song beyond the tears and aches of our frail days. There is a love more tender than the deepest intimacy. There is a life that rolls away the stone and ends forever the grave.

So Sunday we will hear the prophet speak of the song of the saints and martyrs around the throne of God. And we will sing with the psalmist of the goodness of the Lord.   And we will hear the elder say “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God,” and remind us that though our vision now is limited, the promise is certain: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”

Sunday we will name the names that have joined that heavenly chorus, and sing with them the song that knows no end.

The Prayer for November 5, 2017 (for the observance of All Saints)

Eternal God, source and goal of all things,
founding the world in your goodness and renewing it by your Holy Spirit,
creating us in your image, redeeming us in your Son,
and uniting us in one great company from every race and nation,
who sing your praise and bear your word and work to the world,
fill us with that confidant hope, born of the empty tomb,
that frees us to live as your faithful people, now and forever.

The Texts for November 5, 2017 (for the observance of All Saints)

First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17
“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”
– The prophet’s vision turns from the woes of earth (as the seals are opened that draw the earth to that day when the reign of the slain-yet-risen lamb is everywhere acknowledged) to the heavens where he sees the faithful gathered around the throne of God.

Psalmody: Psalm 34:1-10, 22
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” – A song of praise for God’s deliverance that celebrates God’s care for the poor vulnerable and describes those who are honored in God’s sight.

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” – The author affirms that we belong already to the household of God, inheritors of the age to come, and declares that, though we cannot comprehend the future that awaits us, “we shall be like him” – sharing in the resurrection.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – The Gospel for All Saints takes us back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount and the foundational teaching about those who are honored in God’s sight.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADeir_Mar_Musa_04.jpg By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Remembering

Looking back on the Sunday of All Saints

Revelation 7

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The Lamb, Bamberger Apokalypse

17 The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,

I should have put on an old pair of jeans before I took the flowers from the altar over to the cemetery; now my “good jeans” have stained knees from kneeling before the gravestones of Grammy and Grampa, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Victor, Aunt Vivian and Uncle Jack, and the bench my mother donated in memory of my brother, where she has a plot for when the time comes. My stepfather is also there, not all that far from my brother’s bench.

It’s unusual in Palo Alto for a whole family to be in one place – except for my brother buried in Des Moines, Iowa, and my daughter in Livonia, Michigan. But Anna grew up in Michigan, and her mother and I were both still there when the shattering phone call came.

I bought a pair of grass clippers in Des Moines one year, and have kept them in my car ever since so I can tend Ken’s grave whenever I drive across country. I used them today on all the family members, including my stepfather. My half-brother and sister are some distance away; so I cut away the creeping grass, trimmed the edges, pulled away the dead leaves, cleaned the stone and left flowers for them.

I also picked an untended grave at random, trimmed the grass and cleaned the stone. When I was through I could see the name and that his body had been laid there in 1987 when he was just shy of 54. It had been a long time since anyone had been there – though there is space on the stone for another.

I am not quite sure why that desire struck me. Perhaps because I couldn’t tend Anna’s or Ken’s today. Perhaps because all week my mind has been on all those I have buried over the years: infants and children and young men shot down in the prime of their youth, victims of tragic accidents, victims of tragic diseases, victims of the years. I was troubled that I could not remember all their names, that their stories were fading from memory – stories that deserved to be remembered. Rich, complex, full and sometimes agonizingly short stories, but all of them connected in a web of family and friends and fellow congregants – though some of those ties were painfully few or terribly frayed.

But they deserved to be remembered and I couldn’t. I can’t even hold these members of my own family in memory. I remember pieces, like a photo album from those days when the pictures were held in by those little corners you would lick and stick. Over time the glue would give way and photos would fall out. So the pictures in the album become fewer and fewer.

They all deserve to be remembered and I can’t. I should have written down all their names and stories. I should have noted the location of each grave so they could all be visited. There must be a couple dozen in the cemetery where my daughter lies, but who or where I can’t remember.

It was always my practice to wait after the family had gone and watch as the cemetery workers sealed the vault and brought in the dirt. I wanted to be able to testify to the family that it was complete, that their loved one was indeed there beneath the soil.

But I didn’t keep a record. I have the sermons I wrote – at least those that I can still access. Others are on old floppies written by programs that no longer exist. Many more were written by typewriter on paper. I have no idea if any of them remain in the bottom of some forgotten box.

I remember a cemetery in Toledo, standing with a small clutch of family in an old graveyard surrounded on three sides by the clanking and smells of an oil refinery. It is a vivid memory, a strange and holy peace in the midst of industrial chaos, but I no longer know who it was we laid in the ground. They deserve to be remembered. They all deserve to be remembered. But their stories slip away. We slip away.

The psalmist’s cry touches near to home.

“What is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?” (Psalm 8:4RSV).

The years of our life are threescore and ten,
or even by reason of strength fourscore;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10 RSV)

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more. (Psalm 103:15-16)

But then there comes the sweet word of Psalm 139.

1O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord,
you know it completely.

There is one who knows our stories. And God remembers.

Hungering for a just world

Saturday

Matthew 5

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Paolo Pagani (1655 –1716), God the Father blessing and two children sharing a bread. Photo credit: Laurom

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Again and again in scripture God is revealed as a god who feeds the hungry. Psalm 107 declares, “He satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.” Psalm 146 proclaims the God of Jacob who “executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free.” When Isaiah 40 says, “He gives power to the faint,” in that wonderful passage about mounting up “with wings like eagles,” the Greek translates it as “he gives strength to the hungry.” Again and again the Hebrew word rendered ‘faint’ refers to the faintness caused by hunger.

God is a god who feeds the hungry, who delivers those in bondage, who is the defender of widows and orphans. When Matthew records Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” it cannot be separated from the underlying notion of God’s care for the poor and vulnerable. The hungry are blessed not because they are hungry, but because there is a God who comes to the aid of those who hunger and who will bring all creation to a shared table.

It is this idea that connects Jesus’ promise in Luke, Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” with the longer declaration here in Matthew. Hunger for righteousness is hunger for a just world – God’s just world – where bread is shared.

In the scripture, righteousness does not consist of a passing grade on a moral exam; it is not the observance of a list of rules and regulations; it is faithfulness to God and to one another. The Greek and Hebrew words that are usually translated as ‘righteousness’ refer to that fidelity to one another that fulfills all social obligations. It is why the word can be translated as both righteousness and justice, for their meanings merge. The ‘righteous’ keep faith with God and with one another. They remember and live the obligations to justice and mercy, to love of neighbor and love of God.

So the hungry will be filled – the hungry who, because they are hungry, hunger for a just world. And this hunger for a just world, this hunger for a world governed by the Spirit of God, this hunger for a world governed by justice and mercy is honored in God’s sight.

And it shall be filled.

The gentle (“meek”, part 2)

Friday

Matthew 5

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Stained glass window of the Sermon on the Mount. Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (Baltimore, Maryland). By ΙΣΧΣΝΙΚΑ-888

5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

I wrote yesterday of the promise that the humbled shall receive from God’s hand what has been taken from them. I talked about Psalm 37 and the use of the word “meek” to refer to the poor and oppressed. But there is more in this declaration than just the promise of God’s vindication of those whose lands have been stolen. The Greek word does mean gentle. It is used in ancient Greek of mild horses, tamed animals, and gentle souls.

This word translated ‘meek’ shows up two other times in Matthew’s Gospel: in Matthew 11:

28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

and in Matthew’s quotation of Zechariah 9:9:

4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

It is hard to separate the two dimensions of meaning: gentleness and poor. Jesus is the master who knows life’s adversities and so his demands upon his servants are gracious. He has been wounded and can treat the wounded with care. He knows our brokenness and receives us kindly. It’s a different Lord than the conquering hero who has never known defeat and rewards only success.

We live in a competitive world. I don’t know if parents let their children play “king-of-the-hill” anymore. Perhaps my mother wouldn’t either if she had known what we were doing on the dirt pile in the construction site behind our street. But the parade of trophies for soccer and dance and band, and the bumper stickers advertising a child’s success, are kind of the same thing. Who’s up? Who’s ahead? Especially now, we seem to live in a culture of self-promotion, tweeting our successes and adventures. We rank football teams and eligible bachelor/bachelorettes and fortune 500 companies and we measure who has the most ‘friends’ or ‘followers’.

Into this world of our constant scramble up the dirt pile, Jesus speaks of a gentleness that doesn’t push others down but lifts them up – a gentleness that forgives seventy-seven times, a meekness willing to serve, a humbleness that bends to wash feet, a love that lays down its life.

Such a gentleness is honored in the sight of God.

The humbled (“meek” part 1)

Thursday

Matthew 5

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Mathew Ahmann, executive director of the National Catholic Conference for Interrracial Justice, at a civil rights march on Washington, D.C.

5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

I heard once, when I was in high school, that the word meek was used of a warhorse trained for battle who was not frightened by the chaos and cries of the clash of armies. I haven’t been able to verify such a use of the Greek word, however much it appealed to an adolescent boy in search of a masculine Christianity.

What the word is routinely used for in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament (the sacred scriptures of the first believers) is those who are humbled by oppression and poverty. And the sentiment expressed by Jesus that those who have had their lands stolen from them shall receive them back again is not new to Jesus. Psalm 37 advises the faithful to “trust in the LORD and do good,” “commit [their] way to the LORD,” “refrain from anger and forsake wrath,” for “yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more,” and “the meek shall inherit the land.”

It advises against the angry vindictiveness that leads to a cycle of revenge: “Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him.”

The psalm declares that God will execute justice, that God will defend the poor, that God will cut off the wicked and “the righteous shall inherit the land.” (v.29)

“Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land.” (v. 34)

It sounds like the psalmist is counseling what we would call ‘quietism.” At least for us, in our culture, the word ‘meek’ suggests those who do not fight back against oppression – those who make great doormats.

I didn’t want to hear that as a teen. I still don’t. I wanted to fight injustice. I hated the insensitivity, the self-absorption, the self-righteousness of power. It wasn’t enough for me to hear that God will set things right in the end.

But there are times and places and peoples where those simple words are words of great hope and power: “God will set it right.” “God will set it right.”

Such a promise doesn’t make me weak; it makes me strong. God will make it right. The corruption and abuse of power will not endure. The world does not belong to those with money and great lawyers. The world does not belong to those who control congress and the media. The world does not belong to those with guns. The world does not belong to the hackers and hijackers. The world belongs to God and God will make it right.

The meek, the oppressed, the beat down, the humbled and humiliated will inherit the earth. Not just the family farm. Not just the land of Israel. They are the inheritors of the whole creation, raised from sloth and slime into glorious freedom of the children of God.

The injustice I oppose now will fall. Perhaps not today. Perhaps not tomorrow. But it will fall. The greed I oppose now will fall. The tyranny I oppose now will fall. Violence will not reign. It is not a word about the sweet by and by – it is a word about creation’s destiny. Our destiny is in God. And God has shown himself to be one who set slaves free, who is the avenger of widows and orphans, who commands the sharing of bread and freeing of servants and the protection of the natural world, who returns the humbled to their land.

5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

A clash of worlds

Wednesday

Matthew 5

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Angel. Symbol of Matthew the Evangelist, miniature from Morosov-Gospel, early 15th century.

1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them

The Gospel of Matthew is brilliantly constructed. Themes we find at the beginning are paralleled by events at the end. All Jerusalem is in turmoil when the magi appear inquiring about a new king, and all Jerusalem is in tumult when the new king finally arrives on a donkey and her colt. The beatitudes spoken as Jesus’ first words in the Sermon on the Mount declaring what is honorable in God’s sight are paralleled by the woes spoken at the end about all that is shameful in God’s sight. With the declaration “you snakes” in 23:33, there are eight makarisms and eight “shame-on-you”s – plus the snake reference mirrors the words of John the Baptist.)

Jesus is the faithful son who goes down to Egypt and returns, who does not break faith when tempted by Satan, who cares for the poor and loves the neighbor, who embodies the just and merciful reign of God, and faithfully proclaims the word of God. In contrast is the city of Jerusalem who “kill[s] the prophets and stone those sent to [them].”

The murder attempted in Matthew 2 will succeed in Matthew 27. The leadership of the nation chooses a murderer over the faithful son. Jesus is what God’s people fail to be.

Against this great backdrop we come back, this Sunday, to the beatitudes. These are not beautiful words of spiritual poetry; they are the overture of a great drama, the clash between the way of God and the way of human empires, the clash between God and the gods of this world. Here Jesus declares what is honorable in the sight of God. And he speaks the promise that these honored of God and spurned by the world will inherit all things.

Caesar claims to be the savior of humankind, but brings death. Jesus is the savior who brings life. The Pax Romana, the imperial peace of Augustus, is a tyranny at the point of a sword; the peace of God is Immanuel, God with us, before whom Magi kneel offering royal treasures.

Choose your lord,” says Matthew. Choose whom you will serve. Choose whom you will follow: the soldiers who fall down like dead men, or the dead man who lives.

And here again we see the rich construction of Matthew’s Gospel: this Jesus, risen, vindicated by God, who was promised in the beginning of the Gospel to be Immanuel, God with us, at the end of the Gospel sends his followers into the world declaring with his final words: “I am with you always to the end of the age.”

“He is not a God of the dead, but of the living.”

Watching for the morning of November 2

Year A

All Saints Sunday

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Fra Angelico, The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24) Tempera on wood, National Gallery, London

The celebration of All Saints has its roots in a day of remembrance for the martyrs of the Diocletian persecution, too numerous for each death to be honored on its own day. Like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it represents the many ordinary men, women and children whose fidelity to God braved death rather than acclaim Caesar as lord and savior. The destiny of the world is not in this or any human imperium, but the bending of every knee in allegiance to the lamb who was slain and lives, the anointed of God who offered his life for the world. It is not power that rules the world, but love.

From the memory of these martyrs came a day to honor all those heroes of the faith who did not have their own day on the church calendar. In the 8th century the feast was moved to November 1 in the western church, and later the Feast of All Souls was added on November 2nd.

With the Reformation insight that the whole body of Christ are properly called saints – set apart for God’s holy purpose – the feast of All Saints merged with All Souls to became an occasion to remember all the faithful departed.

But we are not remembering the dead – we are remembering those who live in Christ. We are remembering the whole body of Christ from every time and place, on earth and in God’s presence, as we await together that day when the earth is forever freed from tears and all things are made radiant like a bride adorned for her husband.” We await a world reconciled, a world healed, human life made whole – and we choose to kneel before this vision of life rather than the empires of power and greed.

So this Sunday we hear of the song of heaven from Revelation 7. We sing Psalm 34 about “the Lord [who] redeems the life of his servants.” We hear the promise of 1 John that “we are God’s children now” – and though “what we shall be” remains a mystery, we have the promise that we shall be “like him” who was crucified and raised. And finally we hear again the words of the Beatitudes declaring God’s vindication for the poor who grieve over this broken world and hunger for true righteousness. We hear Jesus proclaim that it is these the merciful, the peacemakers, living God’s values in the midst of human empire building, who are honored in God’s sight. To them the earth belongs, and they shall know and delight in the fullness of God’s kingdom.

(Note: The title comes from Luke 20:38)

The Prayer for All Saints Sunday

Eternal God, source and goal of all things,
founding the world in your goodness and renewing it by your Holy Spirit,
creating us in your image, redeeming us in your Son,
and uniting us in one great company from every race and nation,
who sing your praise and bear your word and work to the world,
fill us with that confidant hope, born of the empty tomb,
that frees us to live as your faithful people, now and forever,
through your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

 

The Texts for All Saints Sunday

First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17
“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”
– The prophet’s vision turns from the woes of earth (as the seals are opened that draw the earth to that day when the reign of the slain-yet-risen lamb is everywhere acknowledged) to the heavens where he sees the faithful gathered around the throne of God.

Psalmody: Psalm 34:1-10, 22
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” – A song of praise for God’s deliverance that celebrates God’s care for the poor vulnerable and describes those who are honored in God’s sight.

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” – The author affirms that we belong already to the household of God, inheritors of the age to come, and declares that, though we cannot comprehend the future that awaits us, “we shall be like him” – sharing in the resurrection.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – The Gospel for All Saints takes us back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount and the foundational teaching about those who are honored in God’s sight.