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All Saints' Sunday B Sermon
21: 1-6
November 7, 2021

Sermon Archives


Revelation 21:1-6

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’
5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

May the grace, mercy and peace of God be with us in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.

The theme of our worship today could be titled, “Spoiler Alert!!” You have probably read articles or discussions with reviews about much anticipated books, television shows or movies that warn you right up front that there are important parts of the plot and the conclusion that will be revealed in the body of the article. If you have already seen it, or if you don’t mind having certain knowledge of the show before you see it, you might commence reading the article. Otherwise, you might skip it.

When John of Patmos, the one to whom is revealed the scene in our second lesson, says, “then …” he is telling us the conclusion of God’s plan to restore creation as it was intended to be. You have to admit, there is some pretty frightening stuff in this final book of our Bible. There are horsemen, beasts, dragons and all sorts of creatures that are the making of a classic Vincent Price horror movie! Immediately before this passage in Revelation 21 the dead are judged by the one who sits on a white throne; even everyone in earth and heaven flees from his presence, but there is nowhere to run or hide. Suddenly, this throned figure opens a couple of books and as a result, both Hades and the sea give up their dead to be judged. Then death itself and Hades are thrown into a lake of fire - in other words, they are destroyed forever. Then … then, I saw a new heaven and a new earth. Here is the ending - spoiler alert!! All of the old, imperfect, sinful stuff of life passes away, including those things that cause mourning, crying, pain and death. The sea is no more - that feared abode where dwells chaos and all that threatens us because what lives under its surface is unknown and frightening.
This is a small glimpse of eternal life which we are afforded. Along with our other two readings from Isaiah 25 - a feast on the mountain with rich food and well-aged wine - and John 11 - Jesus calling forth a man dead for four days to come out of his cave, which he does - in these readings we have little snapshots of the kingdom of heaven today on All Saints’ Day. We have this gift from God that keeps us going no matter what might frighten or threaten us in this life. We do not have the details of what heaven is like; we use catch-phrases like, “rest eternal, perfect healing and peace, heavenly banquets” and so on, but we do not have the details. I have a feeling that if we did, we would be overwhelmed with emotions and unable to focus on living now, serving God and following Jesus. It would be too much for us.

But much like John of Patmos, I believe that all of us are given snapshots of heaven during those times when God affords us opportunities to experience the new Jerusalem bumping down to earth. That can happen at any time and in any place. I remember officiating at my Aunt Betty’s funeral some 21 years ago, reminding my family of those times when we gathered in the basement of her home in Grove City for holiday parties, laughing, eating and sharing the fellowship of the day. To me, those times were like little instant Polaroids of what we can expect as our earthly lives inevitably come to a conclusion and we look to what is next. These are our “spoilers” that God allows us to see and experience his love and grace in its fullness.

Last Sunday was another of those times. It was such a joy to have Bishop Dillahunt here with our wonderful musicians and singers, God’s word and fellowship with each other to give us a spoiler for what is to come. These are times when we have the chance to retreat from what frightens and threatens us in life to praise God in the midst of the sinfulness of the world. The Saints of the church - those notable disciples of Jesus who we lift up as models for the Christian life - are admired so much because they were still able to praise and serve God even when sin, death and the devil opposed them and maybe even took their lives in gruesome ways.

We were also given this foretaste with the memories of those loved ones that have passed this last year. Norma, Julie, Ruth, Jim, Helen, Robert and Bill all leave behind legacies of family and friends who miss them dearly, but only want for them the healing that only God can grant. When I close my eyes and remember each of them and my interaction with them as pastor and friend, I feel privileged to receive a spoiler of the heavenly kingdom and banquet.

This past Friday I went to Great Clips to get my hair cut. I wanted to get in and out quickly, so I got there just in time for the doors to open. Already there was a man standing at the door when I pulled up, and I was thinking that it might take longer than I had expected to get this done. When they unlocked the doors, another, elderly man in the car next to mine got out and went up - the first man held the door open for him. I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking that this was a little bit shady. Well that second guy went up and checked in, not only himself, but his wife. I thought, “geez … I am now fourth on the list. What time to I have to get here to be first?” After I checked in, the second guy came in with his wife - she struggled to walk, her left leg curled up and lame. He lovingly encouraged her in the door, through the little lobby and helped her into the stylist’s seat. Now I felt a little bit guilty for my thoughts.

That husband sat in the empty seat next to his wife while she got her haircut. The other guy and I both got our haircuts from the other stylist working that morning, and I was done just about the same time that the husband was paying for their cuts and getting the car ready. When he got her outside, which was even more of a struggle than getting her in, I said to the people in the shop, “Now that is the picture of true love and devotion.” The young lady who cut their hair said, “Yes; they have been married 60 years.” When I got outside the husband was apologetic - “I am sorry you have to wait. She has dementia and Alzheimer’s, and when she fell asleep during my haircut it kind of went downhill.” I said, “Don’t worry. I am not in a hurry. Please, take your time.” Looking back I realize the spoiler God revealed to me that day. The one on the throne is the Alpha and the Omega. That means, what is to come is the same as the creative power of the one who has been from the beginning. I don’t know anything about these people, but I witnessed a devotion and affection of 60 years of marriage that must have been as it was in the early 1960’s when they were newlyweds. In that small barbershop on Friday morning, the new Jerusalem bumped down for a time to give us a spoiler about God’s work for and through the saints to complete the creative work begun so long ago. May we live with eyes wide open to recognize those spoilers which God gives us as small snapshots of eternal life to come. Amen.