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The Communion of Saints

St. Matthew 5.1-12/Apostles' Creed


All Saints Day (Observed)
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation. In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1. In the Holy Gospel for today, we hear our Lord Jesus Christ say:

[St. Matthew 5.4]

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

God has gathered us here today to comfort us, for we are indeed those who mourn.  Among those we gather to commemorate and remember are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends every one: all of them dearly loved by us as fellow Christians; all of them dearly loved by God.

2. Even in death, God loves his children.  The blessed David reminds us in Psalm 116:

[Psalm 116.15]

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Every name we read today; every loved one we remember is precious to God.  Precious because God made them.  Precious because God sustained them by his grace in their earthly life.  Precious because God saved them by the blood of his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  All the blessed dead are precious because even though they have died their lives are now hidden with Christ in God.  (Colossians 3.3)

3. In St. John's Gospel we hear Christ say:

[St. John 11.25-26]

I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Even though death comes for us all in this life, in God, we never die.  For we are precious in his sight, up to, and even through the moment of death.  And while we mourn those whom we love who now rest in God's peace, we hold fast to Christ's promise:

[St. John 11.25-26]

Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

4. So today we give thanks that God has called our brothers and sisters home to his mercy.  Yes, we still grieve their deaths.  We still long for their presence here among us.  And in truth, it will be that way until our own death, or until Christ returns in glory.  But even though we grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.  For even though we are physically separated from our beloved dead, we are still united with them in the mystical body of Christ; in the communion of saints. 

5.  Just moments ago, we confessed our faith in this communion.  And as we did so, we did not confess alone.  Those whom we commemorate today confessed the same faith along with us.  True, we cannot see them, but we are indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  (Hebrews 12.1) Together, with them, we all make up the Church. 

They are the Church Triumphant. We are the Church Militant.

They are the Host of Heaven.  We are the Host of God on earth.

They sing the unending song of praise face to face with God before his throne.  We sing here on earth, seeing God by faith.

And we are all bound together in one body by Christ our Lord.  That is the promise and the blessing of the communion of saints.

6. The promises they now know in full, we will one day know as well. 

The immediate, eternal presence of the Triune God. 

The blessed absence of tears and death, mourning and crying and pain.  (Rev. 21.4)

The blessed rest of those spiritually and eternally joined to Christ on high.

The saints now rest in this blessedness in the arms of God.  And by God's grace, we shall one day rest there as well.

7. And then, at the consummation of this present, evil age, we shall all together come to know in its full glory the blessing of the communion of saints. On the last day, when heaven opens and Christ comes on clouds of glory with angels ascending and descending upon him, we shall all experience the communion of saints as the great, communal expression of the glory of God.  All the dead will rise from our graves, and we, and those who have gone before us in the faith will be gathered to stand—in the flesh—before Christ our Lord.  The Church Triumphant will join the Church Militant.  They Host of Heaven will be one with the Host of God on earth.  There and then, we will join hand in hand with all the saints, and see God face to face.  We will live forever in the blessedness of paradise, and together we will sing: Salvation belongs to our God, and to Christ the Lamb, forever and ever. 

8.  While we await that glorious day, God sustains by this word:

[St. Matthew 5.4]

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Thus comforted by the word of Christ, we give thanks that he keeps us safe in the communion of saints.  We give thanks that he has gathered our beloved dead into the arms of his mercy and still watches over and protects them by his grace.  We give thanks for God's comfort during our mourning.  And we pray that he will keep us safe as well, from every danger to body and soul, and so keep us in the communion of saints throughout this life, and bring us at last into the life of the world to come.

9. Come, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly.  Amen.

Invocation. In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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