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Sunday Thoughts for All Saints’ Sunday

The Lord be with you

November 1 is All Saint’s Day. In years gone by, this day would be marked with a special worship service. However, in recent decades, the observance of this holiday has been moved to the first Sunday in November by Lutherans in the United States. Other denominations might select the last Sunday in October, but that is the date we tend to move our observance of Reformation Day.

All Saints’ Day is used to remember the faithful departed, especially those who have died within the last year. There names are read in the service as a bell (or in our case a bell sound played by our organ) rings out. If you have someone to remember, but did not get their name on our sign-up sheet, please call the church office by Wednesday (October 31).

The appointed lessons for All Saints” Day are fixed. It doesn’t matter if we are in the first, second or third series in our three-year lectionary. They are: Psalm 149 (4); Revelation 7:2–17; 1 John 3:1–3; and Matthew 5:1–12. Our liturgy for Sunday is a special one so our bulletin will be a bit longer. Certain hymns will replace standard liturgical pieces. We will also be sharing the Lord’s Supper. We will be singing:

Opening Hymn “For All the Saints” LSB 677
Hymn of Praise “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” LSB 790
Sermon Hymn “The Church’s One Foundation” LSB 644
Offertory “Take My Life and Let It Be” LSB 784:1, 4
Sanctus Hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” LSB 507:1
Agnus Dei Hymn “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” LSB 434
Distribution Hymns
“Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” LSB 670
“Jerusalem, My Happy Home” LSB 673
“Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” LSB 637
Post-Communion Hymn “Thanks to Thee, O Christ, Victorious” LSB 548
Closing Hymn “Saints, See the Cloud of Witnesses” LSB 667

The sermon for Sunday will be titled “I Believe in One Holy Christian and Apostolic Church.” This Church transcends time and location. This is the Church of which all believers are living members, even those who are currently with the Lord.

Please remember that we will be dedicating and breaking ground for our community garden Sunday following the worship service. We are expecting a number of special guests, like members of the Potter family, Representative Ed Osienski and Senator Bryan Townsend.

Below are the lessons for Sunday with a few initial thoughts from me.

Revelation 7:2-17
2Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

5 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

My initial thoughts:
Revelation is probably the most poorly understood book in the New Testament in America today. That is, in my opinion, because of the non-biblical thought involved in the dispensational theology that developed in America in the 19th century. The book is full of symbolic images that should be understood in light of the rest of the Bible, NOT contemporary newspapers and whatnot. Sunday we will be considering this reading and discover who the “sons of Israel” in verse 4 are. What does it mean that their “white” robes have been washed “in the blood of the Lamb”? I’ve seen blood stains and they are not white. This, and more, relates to us and to those who have already gone to be with the Lord.

Psalm 149 (antiphon v. 4)
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.

My initial thoughts:
The idea of Israel, established in the New Testament, should be read back into this Psalm. The New Testament idea of “Israel” was not new during the days of the New Testament but how God always intended for the word “Israel” to be understood when speaking of his people. So the New Song spoken of in verse 1 is sung by “his people.” His people is “Israel.” His people, “Israel,” are those who have faith in the Messiah, our Lord Jesus, and therefore always have reason to rejoice. Those who reject the Messiah are not “his people” and are not “Israel,” no matter what their genealogy might be. That second half of the Psalm, the part that speaks of judgment, then is referring to the Second Coming of Jesus where we join him in judging the world (Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2).

1 John 3:1-3
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

My initial thoughts:
Again the “One Holy, Christian, and Apostolic Church” is in view. The special relationship that believers have with God is not recognized by the unregenerated. All they can see are externals. We know that we will be raised on the Last Day with transformed bodies. One of the most remarkable things about this body is that we will be like Jesus. Just think about that for a minute! Jesus, who appeared to his followers following his resurrection from the grave. Jesus, who appeared to Paul, and others, during the early days of the Church. Jesus, who appeared to the Apostle John and gave him the Revelation we have as the last book of the Bible. What a future we have in store for us!

Matthew 5:1-12
1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

My initial thoughts:
The “beatitudes” are some of the best known words of Jesus. The very word “beatitudes” is simply a Latin word for “blessings.” Some modern language Bibles translate the word “blessed” as “happy.” Technically this can be done but it really is a poor translation. Happiness is fleeting. You might be happy one day, sad the next, angry the day after, and so forth. This state of being blessed that Jesus is speaking of is not fleeting. It is a blessed state that is established by grace through faith in Jesus and his atoning death. The various traits, “poor in spirit,” “mourning,” “meekness,” and so forth, are a description of the New Man created in us through the waters of baptism. According to our Old Man, we never rejoice in being persecuted. According to our New Man, we rejoice every time our Lord is honored, even if it means persecution, and so on. Those in glory, no longer are persecuted, but they rejoice that they were able to bring glory to Jesus through such events. Such persecution is never sought out, but is humbly accepted when and if it arrives. Notice verse 12. The Christian life is shaped by what is to come as well as what Christ has done.

May this look ahead help us prepare for our Sunday worship.

Blessings in Christ,

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