Sunday, November 7, 2010

All Saints Day Revelation 7:9-17

After these things I saw, and look, a crowd of many, which, to count them, no one was able, out of every nation and of tribes and of peoples and of tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed around in robes of white, and palm branches in their hands; and they cry out in a great voice, saying, "The salvation in our God, in the One sitting on the throne, and in the Lamb." And all the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the 4 living ones, and they fell before the throne upon their faces, and worshiped in God, saying, "Amen! The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the might–in our God into the ages of the ages. Amen!" And answering, one out of the elders, saying to me, "These, the ones clothed around (in) the robes, the white ones–Who are they, and from where do they come?" And I have said to him, "My master, You know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the tribulation, the great one, and they have washed their robes, and they have whitened them in the blood of the Lamb! Through this, they are before the throne of God; and they have service in Him day and night, in His Temple-sanctuary; and the One sitting upon the throne will tabernacle among them."

To be a saint is certainly to be *blessed*–no doubt about it. The great Saints of bible times were indeed blessed by God in their words and actions, so that they too could be blessings to the church. But being "blessed" isn't always what we would like to think that it is. We feel blessed with a full belly, but Jesus says it's blessed to hunger and thirst. We think of proud, powerful people as "blessed", but Jesus declares the meek, gently-humble people as blessed. So being a blessed saint needs thought.

To understand the blessings of saint-hood, we first must consider Who makes someone a "saint". It starts not with the saint him or herself, but with God! The salvation of the church is not in a saint, but "in God". The power, glory, wisdom, honor, and might don't belong to the saint either. These are "in God" too. Likewise the very blessing of saint-ness is in God, and without Him, there is nothing saintly about any of us! It is God Who declares someone to be a saint. God alone makes you a holy saint!

"But don't saints *do* lots of things?" Indeed, by their works, we know them as saints, to be sure. But the works of holy men and women do not merit them saint-hood. That would have it all backwards. It's not that they acted really holy, so God responded by making them saints. It's that God chose to make them holy so that their actions would reflect who they are. Certain trees didn't decide to bear apples, so that God would call them apple trees. They produce apples because God created them to do so.

So we are reminded just *Who* makes people like you into saints–God Himself! But just how does He do it? Many foolishly think that the Lord does it by the means of His law–as though God commands good works from Christians, and by their obedience, they become holy saints. Hogwash! Your holiness as a saint does not come from what you do. It comes as a gift of God, not from His Law (which He knows you can't keep) but from His Gospel love in Christ Jesus Who died for you!

You are made holy saints by your Savior's death at the cross. There, He became the unholiness of all your sins, received God's wrath poured out upon His body nailed to the tree, and died the death you deserved. In blessed trade, He gave up to you the holiness of His Own righteousness which is given to you at your baptism. You were dressed that day, most likely, in a white garment, reminiscent of the white robe of Christ's Own righteousness the saints in heaven above wear hereafter for eternity!

And since that day when you became a holy Christian saint, you have been blessed to *worship*. But even there, the burden isn't placed upon you. Oh, you pray, sing praise, give offerings, and bless your God with thanksgiving, to be certain. But you worship *in God*. For the Divine Service this day is in God, as He brings you into Himself, quite literally! Just like God invited the High Priest into the holy of holies–His saving presence–in the Temple of old, so too does your God tabernacle among you!

For your Savior Jesus was promised of old to come in the flesh to tabernacle among us. He does this intimately when He invites you to eat of His body in the bread of holy Communion, and drink of His blood in the cup of the Lord's Supper. There, the same Jesus Who came in the flesh to die for your salvation comes again to you. Jesus is the holy presence of God with you, making you holy by the forgiveness of sins and bestowal of His righteousness to you. He brings His saving cross to you this day.

You are the saints whose robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb, and made holy white forever!

Hymns for today from LSB:
#677 For All the Saints
#517 By All Your Saints in Warfare (insert stanza 4)
#676 Behold a Host Arrayed in White

A blessed All Saints to you and all your loved ones who have gone before!!


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